Holidays: Family, Politics and Social Media
Home for the Holidays!
Doesn't this thought just make you dream about moist, juicy turkey and sweet pumpkin pie? The smell of pine and candy canes as you kick up your feet and toast your socks near a perfect crackling fire. Family gathering around in their not so ugly Christmas sweaters drinking egg nog and singing carols in perfect tune.
Hold up! You say that is not how it usually happens in your tribe? Near drunken arguments about politics, religion and the latest family beef? The party usually ending when Mom dramatically locks herself in the bedroom (with a bottle of wine) crying?
Well, you are in the right place. Read on my friends!
The first thing we might look at is our own expectations. Are they based on reality? If the answer is no, we most certainly need to address this internally.
Think about each family member and their own unique personalities. The most negative is sure to present itself first of course. This negative aspect is something you'd be better off by practicing acceptance. When we accept that which we cannot change in another person, we are more inclined to be at peace with them.
The next step is to find the one thing you appreciate about each and every one of your family. Hold on to that thought with love and devotion.
If there are any long-standing grievances and/or resentments, you might want to either meet up or make a call to that person or persons in advance of the holiday gathering. Yes, YOU might need to be the one who does this. Try to agree to disagree and make peace with each other. Maybe the only thing you can agree on is to set aside this grief at the family gathering so as not to make anyone else feel uncomfortable.
You might find that the other person is happy to know you care enough to set some time aside with them. It is amazing what can be accomplished by extending an olive branch.
Also, make sure to schedule some personal downtime following your gathering. With all that different energy and personality in one sitting, you will most likely be in need of a rest afterward.
How many times must it be repeated? "Avoid politics (and religion) during holiday family gatherings". The most heated arguments, which most certainly lead to family estrangements tend to start here.
While there will be one who will most definitely break this unspoken-yet-spoken rule, you do NOT have to be said person. But indeed you probably already know which family member will. The brother/sister/uncle/aunt who has no filter on their political views and prejudices. You might even agree with some of their thoughts, but the rest might be downright embarrassing. These circumstances have caused many to ask if they were adopted or maybe even switched at birth.
So in preparation for this, practice biting your tongue (not too hard, no blood need be drawn in this exercise). When someone does bring up the subject of politics, hopefully, you will be a skilled master in the art of biting-ones-tongue. If this gets extremely difficult, ask yourself that most clichéd question, "Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?”
See that wasn't so hard. But what happens when you can't shut someone up and you really just want/need them to do so? Go to social media and find an adorable animal video that gets everyone to oooh and ahhh!
Adorable animal video that gets everyone to oooh and ahhh!
This topic can be almost as distressing as politics. Especially when there are family grievances that one has spilled out into the world of social media. We would hope that our loved ones would be more discreet, but then there is reality.
So now we are all gathered and supposed to act like nothing ever happened. What to do? See above topic titled "Family Dynamics".
This might also bring up some tears when an estrangement is involved. These are painful enough but when everyone else is connected, the estranged person feels even more disconnected than ever. This is where sensitivity and compassion are especially needed.
In addition, we all love to post our holiday selfies on Facebook and Instagram and it is most difficult when there is an estranged family member out there sure to see these pictures. The uncomfortable question of whether to post or not to post arises and can be particularly difficult if you really like how your picture came out. Now you could crop but then you are probably connected to the other person in this selfie and don't want to hurt their feelings either. What to do?
Well, fortunately Facebook has a wonderful option for you to create an album and customize it so only certain people can view it! Here are the instructions:
Step 1. Go to the sidebar on your Facebook homepage and click on Photos –> My Uploads to access your albums.
Step 2. Click on Edit Info on the album page.
Step 3. Clicking on Edit Info brings up the Edit Album page where you’ll find a dropdown menu in the Privacy section. There again you’ll find a Custom option that you need to click.
Step 4. Clicking on the customize option will bring up a Custom Privacy box. You can use the options available to make the status update visible to specific people as well to hide it from certain people.
A little old but still legit piece on Estranged Family and Social Media
What concerns you most about gathering with family during the holidays?
All ready now?
So just as you hopefully have created your holiday shopping list, you will do yourself a favor by compiling a holiday sanity list as well. I should look a little like this:
- Meet up with any family members you have grievances with and try to make peace or set a plan in place to keep the peace with each other at the family holiday party.
- Prepare yourself to avoid political and religious discussions.
- Arm yourself with cute animal videos to view.
- Prepare a customized holiday picture album on Facebook to avoid hurting other's feelings.
- Plan some time to relax and recover after the holiday gathering.
Happy Holidays to all!