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Being With Family at the Holidays
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, December 2010

In your mind is a Norman Rockwell picture of the "quintessential" family as you envision spending the holidays with one another.

Even though no holiday has come close to that image, you say once again, "This year will be different." Maybe, but not likely. Guaranteed, someone will say something that offends someone between Thanksgiving and New Year's. And somehow you have to survive another telling of how you were so awkward when you had braces, pigtails, and freckles, or, worse yet, how you were so smart and promising in school and nobody knows what happened.

Make efforts to avoid troublesome yet familiar communication patterns. Remember, it takes two to tango, and if you don't dance, there is no chance to do the old steps.

Consider doing what you feel is right and appropriate regardless of the way your family behaves. Avoid playing "games," unless of course it is bingo or scrabble; that way you will avoid "keeping score."

Ask people about their lives. Get into their histories. Ask them to share times when they were most content, involved, joyful. By doing this you can discover these people in ways that you never knew.

Be realistic, but appreciate what you can do to enhance your chances of having a successful and warm holiday.

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