Christmas - a time for peace and harmony (ho ho ho!)
So - hands up who is looking forward to the Christmas and New Year holiday.
A well-deserved break from work, time at home, decent stuff on the TV for once, chocolates on tap. What's not to like? For some people, Christmas time is a non-stop fun-fest. Lovely work parties, cozy family get-togethers, warm and fuzzy feelings of peace and love towards all humankind.
But (there had to be a 'but') it's not like that for some people and, if we're honest with each other, we could probably replace 'some' in this sentence with 'most'.
One of the most commonly-shared memes I've seen on social media this December is the upturned table with a monopoly* board and its pieces scattered everywhere and the words "Monopoly: destroying family Xmas for generations". Does it have to be like this?
Now I can't guarantee that your Christmas will be completely bicker-free (after all, there's always an unreasonable family member who doesn't want to watch the EastEnders special), but here are some (slightly tongue in cheek) tips to focussing on the good bits and not letting annoyances and irritations build up into a proper, Christmas-spoiling argument.
If you sense a conversation is turning into an argument, take a step back and try to work out what you're really talking about. Are you really arguing about who ate the last green triangle from the Quality Street tin, or are you verging into something more serious? If it's the former, consider if the argument is really worthwhile. The purple ones are equally nice, the Lindor chocolate balls even better. If it's the latter, think about whether you're in an appropriate time and space to "have it out". Surrounded by other family members and perhaps a few glasses of mulled wine down, perhaps not.
Family dynamics can be horrendously difficult to navigate. Are you feeling that your position or identity is being threatened? This can be particularly the case for "children" (aged anything from 20 to 65+) going home to parents.
What are you and the other person actually trying to achieve? Do you really just need a bit of peace and quiet? Sometimes being cooped up at home all day with lots of other people can create an unhealthily argumentative atmosphere. Can you take yourself out of the situation for a while to work out what's really happening here?
Can you change your usual style of communicating? If you tend to be quite brisk and direct in your communication, is this going to be the best approach when discussing Brexit with Auntie Jean? Can you adopt a slightly different tone or style without compromising on your message?
Never discuss Brexit with your Auntie Jean. It's going to end in tears.
What are your top tips for an argument-free Christmas? Let me know. I may need extra weaponry in my arsenal when it comes to getting to watch EastEnders.
*other board games are available and equally as corrosive to family harmony