Have I ever mentioned that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday? I mean, the food…so it goes without saying. And in my family, it’s traditional Thanksgiving food PLUS Vietnamese food. The spread is awesome. The company, on the other hand….well….The last few years have been a little tough as we’ve spent them with my relatives, who are a little bit on the honest side. One Thanksgiving, for example, my aunt told me that my food was only good enough for my dog. I laughed, and although I acknowledge I can be a little sensitive, I still thought that was a little too harsh for a joke. After another Thanksgiving, my cousin sent me a picture of a turkey her mom (my aunt – the same one) had made and said that her mom said her turkey was better than mine. Geez. So last year, I tried to get away from all of it. A Rest Year if you will, but somehow got roped back into it. This year, same thing. This year, however, will be something of a Judgement Day to check my tolerance for their behavior (because let’s face it: maybe their actions are fine and I’m the one getting worked up over nothing) – it’ll pretty much determine if it’s time for my little family to do our own festivities from here on out. I hope that things go smoothly, but in case they don’t, here are a few (coping) strategies that I have or will employ:
- First thing’s first: write down your worries. Take a pen and a piece of paper, write down what specifically is bothering you. I don’t think writing a blog post (like this) will be that therapeutic but writing something down on paper (as I did above) is a good way for you to come face-to-face with the issue. Allowing yourself additional time to brainstorm solutions (and also writing them down!) is even better.
- Don’t react. I came from a family of instant reactors – someone says something and we freakin’ fly off the handle. As a result, I have witnessed/heard of some stuff going down within The Nguyen Clan that would make Jerry Springer blush. In any case, when your Uncle Charles tells you that you’re incapable of having a second child because you need to devote more time to the first (yes, this was said to me when I was 38 weeks pregnant with #2 and yes, I changed the name of the real uncle) yelling back probably isn’t the best solution, especially as there are kids around….as well as adults (that you’re related to) also watching…and smirking as they live for this kind of drama. Instead, try counting to ten before responding. I just read somewhere that it helps to have a drink in your hand. Then, you can sip while counting to ten before reacting – and it looks natural. The 10 count is supposed to prevent you from saying the wrong thing. Use this time to calm down and think of a smart/clever/sarcastic response to shut it down. Oh, and keep the drink in your hand. No throwing allowed.
- Or disengage & leave the room. Truth to told, this is what I did with Uncle Charles (after staring him down for 3 seconds – I didn’t know about the 10 count rule at the time!). I went to the other room and sat with the kids. Kids are the best company sometimes. 🙂 Or if things get really bad, politely say your good-byes and leave. Nothing wrong with that.
- Change your perspective. You can either spin the whole thing into a positive (“I’m lucky that I have a large family that wants to spend the holidays with me”) or try to understand where your relatives are coming from. For me, I know that my aunts and uncles come from an emotionally stunted upbringing and it’s easier for them to say the things they say instead of the positive, supportive things I want them to hear. They don’t know any other way, and I have to try to do my best to be the change I want to see in my family. (Thanks, Gandhi. Or not?)
And those are my thoughts. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and the day ends with full bellies and even fuller hearts. XOXOXOXOXO.
By the way, I lied. This post was kinda therapeutic. And also: Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is pretty much that book that helped me with the tips mentioned below. A good read for anyone dealing with people on a regular basis (so yeah, that kinda means all of us, lol).