Dealing with difficult relatives during the holiday season

James Bero

Uncle Bob has had way too much to drink. Your cousin Courtney won’t stop telling you, in detail, about how many men she has slept with. And your grandmother keeps asking you where she left her glasses when clearly they are on her face. Yes, ladies and gentleman, the holiday season is here.

As much as one might want to throw themselves off of the roof during their holiday parties this season, please, don’t resort to such extremes. If Santa hasn’t thrown himself off a roof yet, then you have no room to even consider. No matter how unbearable some relatives may seem at times, keep in mind it’s only a few days of holiday hell. Soon it will be over and you can ascend on a snow-covered cloud back to your regular life.

Not all have bad relatives, or ones that give them suicidal thoughts during these joyous gatherings. However, there are those that do have relatives who make them feel this way. Those out there who are blessed with wonderful relatives, have sympathy for those who text or call you this month talking about how Grandma told them they were fat and shouldn’t have another cookie. Never fear though, I have a number of ways to keep those out there with relative issues sane during this holiday season.

One strategy is to keep your sanity is to remember they are just relatives. You are simply related to them. This means you don’t have to put on a false front as if they are your favorite uncle, aunt, cousin, etc. Just remember that you have to keep things civil and business like with them so you can truly enjoy the company of those gathered that you love and care for.

Another strategy to utilize is to occupy your time during your holiday parties. Nosy relatives use downtime as an opportunity to pry into your social life. There is nothing worse than sitting in the living room at your Christmas party and having your aunt ask you about your sex life in front of your incredibly religious grandparents. Take it from me: Find activities to occupy the guests.

If you are going to someone else’s house, bring some board or card games that everyone can play; don’t rely on televisions. Televisions have this function called “mute,” and that is the awkward silence needed for difficult relatives to get the ball rolling. If the party is being hosted at your home, have something fun lined up for everyone to do that will fill those awkward gaps of downtime. The holiday party will run much smoother when unexciting downtime can be avoided.

Next, plan entry and exit times for these holiday gatherings. If you are hosting the party, simply notify all that are invited that the party starts at this time, and ends at this time. Do not leave entry and exit times up for everyone to decide because those who tend to overstay their welcome will do so, and you will be sorry.

Lastly, remember all of the joyous, happy things that the holiday season brings. Do not get bogged down in all of the family drama, problems or questions about your life. Simply brush all of that aside and truly remember the meaning of the holiday season and how much joy you do get from being around your friends, loved ones and those who bring you much joy this holiday season.

James Bero is a columnist for the BG News at Bowling Green State University.