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Surviving the holidays with family

Family is something many people consider the beating heart of the holiday season.

However, sometimes being around them comes with many, many challenges.

I come from a large family, and I can say with full confidence that none of us ever see eye-to-eye. This makes the holidays difficult, to say the least.

What begins as a calm, peaceful dinner turns into debates on politics, religion, relationship statuses and other uncomfortable topics, and this is not specific to my family.

So, in honor of a welcoming Christmas spirit, here are three ways you can keep the peace with your family this holiday season.

1. Change the conversation

If you feel that heated discussion on current affairs beginning to bubble over the turkey, take the opportunity to change the conversation. The best way to do this is to bring up something everyone can relate to.

Here are a few easy conversation starters:

• A previous holiday memory
• Something that happened to you in the past few days
• Funny stories about your family members or friends
• New Year’s resolutions
• Who made what dish
• Swapping stories from recent months

Changing the conversation with small talk may cause everyone to forget about that awkward topic that was about to come up.

2. Be honest and do not engage
Honesty is the best policy.

While this cliché saying may be something you’ve heard before, it really comes in clutch during the holidays.

Just because someone is related to you doesn’t mean you have to enjoy their company. This is when you have to be honest.

I’ve had to tell numerous family members over the years that there are certain conversations I refuse to have with them. Many of them are in regards to politics, religion or a flat-out difference in opinion.

While I am completely capable of having an adult conversation over things I disagree with, it isn’t something I enjoy having to do during the holidays.

This is where honesty comes in. If you don’t engage with a conversation you know will lead to discomfort or hostility, it will make your holidays with family much more peaceful.

3. If all else fails, avoid
Over the years, you may have learned your own ways to avoid uncomfortable situations during the holidays. However, there always seems to be that bit of stress that pops through.

Toxic family members can range from siblings to second cousins, and as awful as they may be, you may feel a dedication to see them over the holidays.

It may be a controversial opinion, but this isn’t something you have to do.

You don’t have to get along with or even enjoy being around a toxic family member. Why go through the unnecessary stress just to keep the peace?

If all else fails, whether it be the two other tips in this column or the ones you’ve developed on your own, simply avoid.

You can’t get that aunt to stop badgering you about your ex? End the conversation and tell her you’ll speak with her later. Your grandmother won’t stop pressuring you to change your degree? Do the same.

Avoiding family is hard, and it may make some people upset, but at the end of the day, what matters is you.

Your feelings, emotions and mental health are your priority. If being around a family member who just won’t stop is making you uncomfortable, my tip is to avoid them until you can discuss something holiday appropriate, not something that makes you want to rip your hair out and scream.

The holidays are a time of joy and peace, but dealing with family may make that a hard accomplishment.

However, when it comes to the stress of dealing with them, the ball is always in your court.

Written by Bailey Storey, Photo Editor.

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