We all know Christmas events and family gatherings can be stressful. Especially this year. I get it. Drama wrapped in beautiful paper and adorned with a bow is still drama. But I want to suggest that they don’t have to be terrible. In fact, they can be pretty good…even in a pandemic!
Like anything else in life, things will go better for you (and everyone else) if you apply some common sense hacks to your situation and work them!
Want some specific hacks to get you to and through Christmas?
Here you go!
1) The right time to have that difficult conversation with a family member is NEVER on a holiday. If it has waited until now, it will wait a bit longer…
2) If someone is offending you by saying all kinds of dumb crap, just leave the room. Strategically avoid them if you must. There is no point starting WWIII right before the ham is served.
3) Focus your attention on the older people. Even if they are joining you virtually. Encourage their stories and ask them questions. Learn about your family tree or the business or about their lives. They have much to offer and there are no guarantees for next year.
4) Turn off your phone. Whatever it is, it will wait. Better yet, collect them at the door.
5) Create new traditions and make memories. You don’t have to spend a cent to create a new tradition or make a memory!
6) Hand out as many compliments as possible. I have just given you the key to personal popularity.
7) Liberally apply grace, good manners and appreciation.
8) Help clean up. Don’t ask if you can help. Just help.
9) Create wins for children. If you are at a gathering and have small kids don’t put them in position to fail by staying too long or leaving them unsupervised. And if you can tell things are deteriorating; leave while you are “still ahead.”
10) Exercise your right to remain silent. If you get a bit aggravated and wonder whether you should say something or not…you shouldn’t. I have never regretted a single thing I didn’t say. And don’t bring up a topic that is sure to be a train wreck.
11) Be in a good mood. Smile. Shower people with positive energy! Don’t bring everyone down. You can to that tomorrow. Bonus points for faking it.
12) Pre-Plan your safety level and communicate it. If you are hosting, let people know your COVID-19 rules. If they don’t like them, they don’t have to attend. And if your hosts have rules; respect them or stay home. Their house. Their rules.
13) Remember the reason for the season. The essence of Christmas is about big things. Things like joy, hope, peace and love. Shower people with the big things and the small things will take care of themselves.
Merry Christmas everyone!
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois