Use Nostalgia to Bring the Family Together at the Holidays.
It’s simply a fact families often gather around the holidays, and in many cases, families also argue and fight around the holidays.
The result is often counted in hurt feelings, renewed grudges, and feelings of disconnect to those with whom we should count as our closest and most treasured relationships.
This holiday season, the unstable concoction of the family dynamic mixed with recent political 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:
- Reference Back: When your brother, Bob, mentions the election and attacks Trump as a self-obsessed, womanizing 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.
- 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 Friends.
- 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.
Reference back? Remember when the neighbor kid dared you to lick the flag pole? (For us who hail from colder climes).