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(Tim Bedison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

‘Tis the season for holiday gatherings and dinners with relatives.  Consequently, it is also the season for family tension and drama. Read on to learn how to enjoy yourself and avoid quarrels this holiday season.

1. Don’t expect perfection

There is no perfect holiday. You have every right to expect a pleasant celebration, but don’t expect a Christmas miracle. Turkeys will burn, family members will make rude comments and life will go on. Keep your expectations realistic to avoid disappointment when something goes wrong.

2. Allow change

Avoid staying so stuck on old traditions that you miss out on the beauty of what is and what might be. Accepting the fact that people and families change will let you enjoy the moment for what it is right now.

3. Make a mantra

Recite a calming affirmation to cancel out stress or negativity. It can be a simple phrase that you repeat to yourself.  “Peace and joy” or “Make it work” are some easy ideas. When someone oversteps or you’re being provoked, this reassuring mantra can help you to avoid conflict.

4. See the good

Remind yourself that every family relationship is an opportunity for growth. Even if you don’t like a relative’s personality, consider their standpoint. It doesn’t mean you have to agree. By simply projecting understanding or acceptance, you can positively affect the attitude of those around you.

5. Speech is silver but silence is golden

Sometimes the best response is just a meaningful look to let someone know they’ve offended you. Silence can also help prevent you from getting drawn into squabbles. No matter what happens, you are in control of keeping your actions civil.

6. Come prepared

Bring board games to play, cookie dough to bake or old family photographs to peruse. When you are keeping yourself and your guests busy or engaged in an activity, it is easier to enjoy the company around you.

7. Plan your exit

Know when it’s time to leave or remove yourself from a situation. Whenever possible, try to end on a positive note, even if that means making a graceful exit to sidestep the family drama.

Family dynamics can be challenging, but they don’t have to spoil your cheer. Set your boundaries and recognize your needs early on so you can enjoy all of the holidays’ festivities.

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