by Laura Sussely-Pope
Those Hallmark movies make it look so easy! You've followed the script. The decorations are up, soft carols play; the table's set with a bounty of food. Family and friends gather 'round -- and then, someone makes a dig; someone else defends; yet another adds their thought to the fray. Inevitably, one or more end in tears or angry.
Dealing with the in-laws can be like navigating a minefield on a good day. Mix in the stress of the holidays, top it off with pregnancy hormones and all that "togetherness" may seem too much.
Your preferred solution may be hanging a "quarantine" sign with some nice sprigs of holly around it on your door. It would be quite festive...
Running away to a hotel, cabin or hidden cave works, too but we have a better suggestion! Curl up in your favorite chair, open up your pregnant gal's guide and learn how to defuse the tension between you and the in-laws.
Some of us might prefer to spend the holidays with your in-laws, but for most families, those events can be a nightmare. These seven tips have the power to turn your holidays from miserable to memorable.
Lower your expectations. It's okay to hope for the best, but be realistic. On a holiday, families will act like they always act and maybe worse.
Join the team. If family is coming to your house, try to make them feel comfortable and needed, just as you would a friend joining your family gathering. If you're going to their house for the holiday, ask how you can help.
Refrigerate the negativity. Put it on ice. Holiday events make the perfect battlefield for family drama. Don't let yourself get drawn into a pattern of complain, criticize, and create conflict.
Season it with humor. Look for the gaffes and guffaws. They may not seem funny but seeking them out creates emotional distance so that words and actions have fewer barbs. Besides, you'll end up great stories to tell about your wacky in-law.
Look for the positive. As frustrating, negative, or annoying as your in-laws may be, chances are they can be pleasant. If nothing else, you can thank your lucky stars that you don't live with them.
Catch your breath and re-energize. Holidays with the in-laws will most likely be hectic. Find some quiet time during the day. Wash some dishes, watch a movie with the kids, take the trash out -- anything that allows you time to recharge.
Don't take it personally. Your sister-in-law takes over and your father-in-law criticizes. It's more about them and less about things related to you. Remembering that can help you stay calm.
Do you have in-law stories? How do you handle mixing up the family dynamics?
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.