Handling an emotionally hectic holiday? Words of advice about family dynamics

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Handling an emotionally hectic holiday? Words of advice about family dynamics

by Tyler Roman, Reporter

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The holiday season is usually a happy time when families get together to celebrate. For as many as half of the students, there are families who don’t come together during this cheery time of year. The stress of having a split family can be overwhelming at times, especially during the holiday season.

It’s not my goal to tell you how to handle the holidays: everyone thinks differently, and no situation is the same. My goal is to suggest some approaches and attitudes you could have to make the holidays better.

For starters, think of the positives. Granted, it’s super cliche, but it’s still important. If you only think of the negative circumstances and wallow in your troubles, you’ll ultimately be a miserable person, even if you pretend to be happy.

Next, would be avoid politics. Not everyone has the same viewpoints, and the recent election has stirred up drama. A surefire way to start an argument that puts everyone in a bad mood would be to start talking about politics. When people start talking about who’s right and who’s wrong, you’ll notice they get very defensive and offended at the same time. Do everyone a favor and steer clear of discussing politics at the dinner table.  Shape Magazine has good advice about how to express how you feel about politics without driving your family away.

The same goes for family politics. In a situation where parents divorce, one of them usually has full custody of the children. If both parents want the kids but don’t want to start a legal situation, they agree to share custody of the children. Whatever the setup may be, it can’t fully compensate for a nuclear family setup, which would be the parents and the kids all in one household. I would know, as whenever we’re at my dad’s house, my younger siblings behave very differently than they do when we are with my mom.

With Christmas right around the corner, now is not the time to complain to your parents about your possible distaste for the current setup of who goes with who and for how long. Your parents are going out of their way to make this holiday happen. It’s probably driving them nuts financially and emotionally–parents are people, too! Telling your parents you don’t like how things are during the holidays will sap away what joy they’ve managed to collect by trying to make you happy.  There’s plenty of advice for parents at the holidays–about not putting children in a “loyalty bind”–that works for the children, too.

Another thing you could do, if you have siblings, is try to interact during the holiday season beyond video games and electronics. Your relationship with your siblings can be improved by playing board games that take some time (like Scrabble, or, if you’re crazy, RatRace). Making sure you have a good relationship with the family you still have is important, as they’re the people you’re around the most.

In the case that you’re the only kid in the house, try to get closer with friends. Humans are social animals, so go socialize. One thing I’ve come to learn from others who have lost people in their lives is that you should cherish life while its still here, because once someone’s gone, they’re gone for good.

Baking cookies is a fun way to get into more of a cheery atmosphere. The aroma of sugar cookies fresh out of the oven tends to make people smile. For a more fun approach, attempt using a cookie cutter to make some interesting shapes. If you’re feeling creative, try using a butter knife to cut out a shape before baking the cookies. I’m not a baker, but I appreciate eating sugar cookies.

If you’re an older brother or sister and have a younger sibling who’s still young enough to “believe,” don’t ruin that joy.  Sometimes making someone else happy is enough to make you happy. That warm and fuzzy feeling is simply a confirmation you actually did something nice, so good job!

Give yourself a small gift. When you are shopping, spring to get yourself a new pair of gloves, or maybe a scarf or a hat. Since it’s winter, you’ll want to keep warm. My advice on the gloves would be to get wool gloves that can flip into mittens.

Aim to be cheery this year, and your attitude will go a long way to creating the real thing, joy. If you don’t actually do anything to fix the problems in your life, they’ll only get worse. Take a positive approach. If it snowstorms and you have to clear the driveway, go out there and enjoy the workout, or maybe the lush quiet of the vast blanket of snow, or both. There’s a bright side to every bad situation, but you need the right motivation to find it.

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