Those warm smiles around the dinner table can quickly turn into boring stares, passive aggressive looks, or annoying glances. Dealing with family can be a roller coaster of highs and lows, especially during the holidays. Tight spaces squeeze both the best and the worst out of our hearts, and the scary part is there’s no where to run!
When our family gets together, I’m aware of every second. I notice every laugh and attempt to gauge how each person is feeling in the room. It’s a blessing and a curse. I have noticed some trends in how my family and I behave when we’re crammed together, and I’ve jotted down 10 tips that help with our family gatherings. I hope you find a couple that help your family time this year:
1. Belly laugh. I don’t know when we stopped playing games, but as the kids got older in our family, the game playing stopped. Games and old stories provide some comedic relief when we need it most. Usually we giggle around a game of Fishbowl or Apples to Apples.
2. Turn the tables. Ever looked at a family member and thought, “WOW, how can they be that stupid…that disconnected from reality…that selfish?” Next time you do, think back to a moment when you’ve been oblivious or arrogant. Not in an effort to beat yourself up but to remind yourself that we are all in constant need of Jesus.
3. Be last, and be okay with it. Go into your family time knowing you have nothing to prove. You don’t need to one-up or brag or even defend yourself for what you believe. Go in humble with a silent awareness that you are secure underneath it all. Find ways to serve them. (This is the one I struggle with the most!)
4. Love on the millennials and teens…Say whaaat? We all say it… “Kids these days.” Truth be told, kids are under more influence and pressure than they’ve ever been before. They may seem like they’d rather bang their head against the wall than talk to you, but they need your attention and love.
5. See the current under the ice. I have a cousin who I always thought was really bitter and harsh. I asked some questions in general about her life, and before I knew it, she mentioned she’s exhausted of being single and dating not-so-great guys. There was a current of pain below the hard surface I hadn’t seen.
6. Actually look at each other. We’re all phone addicts at this point. When you gather around the table, have a phone basket to put everyone’s phone in and take it into the kitchen or living room.
7. Ignore passive-aggressives. I’ve worked tirelessly to NOT be this type of person. They’re the family members who would prefer sitting in awkward silence than addressing the fact that they’re upset. Then they pout because no one is addressing their needs. If you sense a pouting spirit, let them be. It’s their responsibility to come forward with their frustration. It may make for a tense room, but it does not have to ruin your family experience.
8. Split up. Holiday get-togethers can be overwhelming. Instead of being cooped up in a giant crowd, maybe take a couple people for a walk or join someone in cleaning up to break up the chaotic bunch of people.
9. Own your stuff. If you make a mistake, own it off the bat and apologize, even if that means pulling someone aside. Once you own your problem, it’s on that person to forgive. You can leave with a clear heart.
10. Pray before you walk in that door…and after! Take a moment to pray about your attitude. God may surprise you now… or he may surprise you in holidays to come with the foundation you build each time you’re with your family.
Above all, take God’s eyes into your family get-together. Think about hovering in the room and seeing things the way He does. Our holiday get-togethers may forever be changed if we focus on God’s ways instead of our own feelings.
Got a good tip to share? Comment below with some healthy ways you deal with family get-togethers.