Survive and thrive this holiday season in three simple steps.

It’s November, and in less than 21 days, many of us will celebrate Thanksgiving – followed by Christmas (or another holiday) in just under 55 days. Yes, the holiday season is upon us. This year, as part of the holiday survival guide, I wanted to address two types of holiday survival issues that are a firm reality for a significant portion of the population.

First, I’d like to address the issues that arise as families gather together and celebrate the holidays. Often, quarrels break out around politics, raising children, and/or the way in-laws have fit into (or not) the family. The following is drawn from my blog last year – it all stills holds true.

This holiday season, the unstable concoction of the family dynamic mixed with recent political and/or sociological events is a virtual powder keg. As the reader, taking time to review this article, I’d like to invite you to set your intention now for the holidays to come. Resolve to be the bigger man or woman and commit to avoiding conflict.

Begin to reframe other’s potentially inflammatory remarks as either totally without self-awareness or as a blatant attempt to bait you into a volatile exchange. Don’t be manipulated, instead prepare yourself to be the peacemaker.

This year, resolve to redirect conflict (or preemptively avoid volatility) using these three nostalgia-based ideas:

  1. Reference Back: When your brother, Bob, mentions the election and attacks (FILL IN NAME) as a self-obsessed, lying buffoon, capture something about his comment by harkening back to earlier days. Say something like, “Bob, that face you just made reminds me of the time that neighbor kid dared you to eat a lemon. Remember? What was his name? “ Follow-up with more of the story if needed, and Bob will eventually join your walk down memory lane.
  2. Use Music: Keep family members busy playing name that tune by accessing iTunes or other on-demand, searchable music services for famous TV theme songs. Cover all eras and everyone can play – from Happy Days to Hill Street Blues to Little House to Magnum PI.
  3. Remembrance: Bring up 5-10 of the happiest or most positively impactful moments in your life, but ensure the moments you share include family members. Ideas could include (a) times you felt protected by family, (b) times you felt supported by family, (c) times you felt happiest with family, (d) times you learned a life lesson with family, (e) times you did something for/with family that better defined your role in the family (i.e. big brother protects a sibling), and/or times you felt most connected to family.

Do these three things, direct your efforts to the entire family and to specific individuals, and end each conversation with something like, “Those were good times, and Bob, no matter what, I love you brother.” Try this, it works and brings the family closer.

Have a Thanksgiving full of love and gratitude, and draw closer to those you love.

Next week, I’ll address loneliness during the holidays. This to is a real issue, and many don’t realize how quickly we can all make meaning this holiday season with a plan and a focused intention.

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