How does the song go? “Friends and family who are dear to us, gather near to us…” Well, I may be taking a few liberties with the words but for some, there is nothing more exciting than the thought of friends and family, all gathered round. For others, it’s an “Oy, this is going to hurt!” type of event.
No matter what the situation, and regardless of the time of year, difficulties with others can arise. Add in familial relationships, holiday stress, too many sweets, perhaps some travel and, well, we all get it.
May I offer some suggestions for coping with a few of the potential difficulties:
1. What to do if someone brings up an uncomfortable subject — or once again hounds you about things that are none of their business? Responding defensively will only upset you.
Q: “Don’t you have a better job yet?
A: “I’ve been doing some research in __________. Do you know anyone that might be able to help me?”
Keep in mind that a little humor and a light touch can make all the difference, especially if it is a repetitive theme. Just because someone has the nerve to ask you a question doesn’t mean you are obligated to answer it … even if it comes from your grandmother.
Q: “Why are you so heavy; do you eat too much?”
A: “Oh, Grandma, are you asking me that again?” and smile as you walk away, change the subject or reach for another piece of pie.
If a discussion starts to become heated at the table, a light-hearted “Wow, this is getting to be too much; let’s enjoy our meal!”, followed up with the introduction of a new topic will probably bring relief to all.
2. You have special dietary concerns.
It is all right to check in with your host in advance as to the menu but don’t make your dietary issues her problem. “Say, Karen, I want to touch base with you about the dinner. I’m a vegetarian and would be happy to bring a dish to share, if you like.” The other alternative is to stay quiet and plan on eating the salad and side dishes.
However, if you have a food allergy, such as shellfish or nuts, do call and let the host know ahead of time. Sitting at a table as the food is being served and suspiciously asking “Are there nuts in this?” puts everyone in an awkward position.
3. If you receive a gift that you don’t like, don’t understand or are disappointed by, the only appropriate response is “Thank you” or “How thoughtful of you!” You can always re-gift or get rid of it later. After all, it is the thought that counts.
Whatever the situation, your words and actions are what matter; how you handle those awkward, difficult, and downright unpleasant situations will reflect on you and no one else. A little humor, a light approach, and taking the high road will almost always be the better way to go.
Whatever your beliefs may be, whichever holidays you may celebrate, may they be happy and full of fun!