Norman Rockwell paints a heart warming picture of a family gathered on a holiday that illustrates love, warmth and togetherness. I wonder what Norman would paint if he were to walk into my family…or yours…during a holiday gathering? Would the colors blend gracefully together? Would the people he depicted be smiling and gazing longingly at each other? Or would he paint something that looked like a train wreck?
When my husband and I got married, we were blessed with having his parents, my parents and his sister live close to us. Not right next door, but close enough to see each other for more than just holidays. After a few years, I began to notice a few things that stressed me out when we were all together at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Things like parents not watching their kids. Adults not helping the host clean up after a meal. Family members barely recognizing that others were there. These things would stress me out! I wanted to change their behavior so that my family holiday picture would make Norman Rockwell proud!
And then I got over it…
Here are 4 tips to surviving a “dysfunctional family” during the holidays!
Don’t expect people to change. Find the positive things about that person who you want to change and focus on that. It makes a huge difference in how you see that person.
Bite your tongue. This goes with #1. I had to learn to not share my opinion because that’s just what it is…my opinion. Holidays are not the place to bring up things that bother you. Biting your tongue may be the best gift you can give yourself!
There is a limit. Holidays and all the gatherings won’t last 365 days! The festivities will end. Family will go home. You will go back to your “normal.”
Enjoy the dysfunction! This is the fun one! Once I chose to enjoy my family with all our flaws, quirks and dysfunction, I enjoyed them and the family gatherings so much more.
I now love the term “dysfunctional family.” I am happy to say that my family is every bit dysfunctional and I wouldn’t change a thing! We often laugh at ourselves in how we behave around each other and roar at each others’ stories that illustrate this “dysfunction.” Why? Because no one is perfect and we shouldn’t try to be.
After all, Norman painted what we assume is a functional family… but that doesn’t mean he painted an actual family!