The statistic for divorced families in North America is some absurdly large number. People whose parents didn’t stay together for the kids understand the exhaustion of trying to celebrate with everyone.
When you were a kid, things were both simpler and more difficult. Chances are you had a strict schedule of where you would be, and when, which wasn’t easier emotionally but took the hard choices out of the equation.
Now that you’re an adult, or at least something approaching one, deciding who you spend these days with entirely up to you.
This can be difficult, and cause rifts between the ones you love the most. There’s no easy way to keep everyone, including yourself, happy 100% of the time.
The important thing to realize is that this is supposed to be a positive and loving time. Don’t let your emotional hardships morph the experience into a negative one.
Here are five ways to have a better time with everyone this year:
1. Bring a bit of booze.
This is a no brainer. Regardless of when your parents got divorced or if they’ve gotten remarried, there’s bound to be some tension among loved ones around the holidays.
It’s usually not impossible to get past, and in fact most of it is probably petty, but avoiding it with alcohol is an easy way to start things off on an enjoyable foot.
Remember everyone’s favorite bottle and try to bring at least one or two of them. Drinking fast and early is a good way to reawaken those bonds you’ve had for years.
If you can, try to make a game of it. Pick up a deck of cards or something else that involves shouting gleefully at each other from around the table. Keeps the energy up and discomfort down.
2. Make your own schedule.
Probably the most important part of our list. You’re an adult now, with your own plans and responsibilities. Satisfy them and see whatever family you’re able to.
Just because as a child you were taxied from one relative’s house to the next doesn’t mean it’s necessary for you to make it to every single party anymore.
Budget enough time to see whoever you can, and try making an effort at another time to see those you miss.
For those you’re unable to see, do your best to get in contact with them. Let them know you love them and are thinking of them, especially if you’re not in the same room together.
3. Wear comfy clothes.
Chances are you’re going to be eating an exorbitant amount of food, and a lot of it will be in the form of dishes you’ve missed all year long.
Pack a pair of grubby sweatpants and a gigantic hoodie so you can gorge yourself with the rest of them.
If you have to, ignore the diet you’re usually good about. Eat all the dairy and gluten you wouldn’t touch on any other day.
Even if it leads to some gastrointestinal discomfort, those few moments in between will be worth it. If only in moderation.
4. Shut up and have the awkward conversations.
Holidays are often a booze fueled hotbed of uncomfortable conversations. While this is less than ideal, it isn’t always a reason to miss them entirely.
The awkwardness usually stems from a discussion with relatives about topics you’d rather not talk about. Your sporadic love life or your soulless career, not to mention politics. Especially this close to an election.
Do your best to find common ground, even if you have to do a little bit of digging. Is there a TV show both of you like? Discuss it for as long as possible. Most mid-season finales have played out or are about to, so stick to that.
Accept the fact that, whether you like it or not, the people you’re surrounded by helped to shape who you are and where you’ve gotten.
Put a smile on and enjoy all the booze, food, inappropriate laughter, and discomfort you can handle. Don’t worry, you’ll be back to the comfort of your own home soon.
5. If you absolutely have to, just skip it.
For some of us, the stress and guilt of attempting to see everyone at once will be too much, and it’s easiest to remove yourself from the equation entirely.
It’s simple to accomplish this one if you have a significant other, but there are other ways to make it happen gracefully.
Schedule plans with friends closer to where you live and blame the cost of transportation. Blame your work schedule, blame a sickness, just don’t out and out blame your family.
The most important thing here is to be sensitive about the situation. Even though the holidays are hard for you, you’re making it harder for others by not showing up. Be open and honest about what you’re doing and let them know that you love them.