This is the time of year we begin to think about sharing the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah with our family. Hopefully, these events will be shared in harmony. Unfortunately, sometimes we celebrate with dread because of situations with in-laws. My advice is to put all your negative feelings on the back burner. I am going to give you a few ideas to make the dread go away.
And for you, sweet readers, who will be alone during the upcoming holiday season, now is the time to make a concerted effort to call a friend. Or you can join a group, or think about helping others. Without companionship during the holiday season, you may feel like a lost soul.
My Ultimate Concierge and I are spending Thanksgiving in Scottsdale with my daughter, Jenny, my son-in-law, Bruce, and our grandchildren. We are already looking forward to our togetherness. Together, we will shop, set the table, share turkey, pumpkin pie, lots of laughter, and love.
Yesterday I sent invitations to my daughter-in-law, Jami, the Good Clan, and my daughter and her clan to celebrate Hanukkah in Chicago. Fingers crossed they will come. I look forward to celebrating with family and friends and I hope it will come to pass.
ROOT YOURSELF WITH A TRIBE
To be rooted within a tribe of people is a very important need of the human soul. Smoothing out complicated in-law dynamics should be the first and most important item on your to-do list. You are the matriarch, the hostess, the mom, and the mother-in-law. This means you are in charge of “making miracles” as well as your delicious turkey.
PROBLEMS WITH IN-LAWS
It is difficult and even mind-boggling to narrow down the list of possible unpleasant encounters that can arise. Particularly at family get-togethers that include the in-laws.
As I rack my brain to lump the problems into a manageable narrative, I come up with four thoughts. Believe it or not, it took an hour of thinking because the range of problems is gigantic!
- Avoid Tension
- Kill the in-laws with kindness
- No expectations
- Neutral topics!
AVOID TENSION – KILL THE IN-LAWS WITH KINDNESS
When I am the hostess, I want to avoid tension by killing my in-laws with kindness. Thus the first two ingredients on my marketing list are: Avoid tension and kill them with kindness
How will I deal with the normal emotions of a mother-in-law? What will make both in-laws ‘feel’ relaxed and happy (if that is possible) at our table?
Have you experienced or read that the emotion of fear a mother feels about having her son forsake her for his wife? That he might prefer her family and her family holiday functions?
Even if I didn’t care for my in-laws I would, for the sake of all, give them a place of honor at our table. This immediately stops tension. Perhaps I’ll ask my father-in-law to carve the turkey! I will announce before the festivities begin, how special it is to have a mother-in-law’s help planning the menu. Also how much I loved her gift of flowers and what a good grandma she is. This sets a mood. They now can feel part of our family, not a guest at our holiday dinner table. I have killed two birds with one stone. The other family members at the table will breathe a sigh of relief.
Of course different strokes for different situations. But, your goal for a special holiday evening is to make your in-laws feel special by honoring them in your fashion.
And, if I were the unhappy in-law at my in-law’s holiday table, I would bite my tongue for three hours. For the sake of the adult children, Grands, and the “out-law” hostess! I am smiling!
In-law situations can be very tricky because families have different expectations. Holiday get-togethers are one example out of a thousand. Unmet expectations are a breeding ground for strained emotions. These emotions run from anger to frustration and even sadness.
Remember, when you don’t expect, you will not be disappointed. You are over 50 plus and should have acquired the emotional tool needed; adaptability.
If you know of topics that may incite or trigger your inlaws, avoid those topics completely. If the subject comes up, be aware and immediately divert the conversation. Keep your ears open at all times so you will not put yourself in the position of becoming the referee. You do not want to diffuse a bomb. You want to keep the thermostat at your holiday dinner table “cool” at all costs.
RANT AND RAVES
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah are around the corner. Let’s have a time of holiday raves instead of rants. However, if you cannot manage this with your family, I would create a Family of Choice or focus on others.
I hope these tips will help any of you that may have a strained relationship with your in-laws. Do you have any tips to add? Please share with me in the comments.
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