Holidays! This is the time of year when people go to visit their families to supposedly have a good time and a good meal together.
Well, these are gatherings where we revive family ties and catch up on everyone’s news. However, most of the time, what we see is a meeting of a group of people who really have nothing in common. Here sits a group of strangers called relatives: uncles, cousins, in-laws, family friends, nephews, etc. all dressed in nothing but a family dinner to go.
After greeting everyone, you decide to take a look at what everyone else is doing. Unfortunately you will find that some will drink too much; others will eat too much; others do not turn off the television; others will only serve others, and others will never stop cleaning. You want to have small talk, but after a few futile attempts, you get bored.
To make matters worse, some will do nothing but criticize others, while others, especially the ones who do all the cleaning, will make everyone else feel guilty. And to complete the ordeal, there are also those who, no matter what, will bring politics and religion to the table, just to heat up the conversation.
More than a fun day, it will most likely be quite stressful, compared only to the stress of “The Pianist”. After a very short time, you will realize that, again, you wish that days like this never existed.
An even worse scenario would be if the visit is to your spouse’s family instead of yours. Then the nightmare would be complete. Oh yeah! You think for a moment that your family is not understood as a bunch of weirdos like his family is.
Dream on! Your life partner will feel the opposite!
So how do we deal with such a situation?
The best approach is to know in advance who will be present at this meeting.
Call ahead, at least three days before hand. Now that you know that Aunt Myrtle and Uncle Wilbur will be there with their two children and their families, and that your sister-in-law will bring that guy who really thinks he’s a good politician but can’t get a single sentence out. using common sense, just like Rupert, your father-in-law’s college roommate who just got divorced after 30 years of marriage and can never stop saying his wife got the house he bought her in the first place, you can start praying for them.
Ok, maybe “pray” is a strong word. Bless them. That’s what you have to do: one by one, you have to hurt them. Better yet: make a list of the attendees of the event. Ok, let’s make a list:
1. Get your phone and call at least three days before the meeting to find out who will be attending the event.
2. On a sheet of paper, write everyone’s names.
3. Write each name on a separate line.
4. Thank the host/hostess for the names and hang up the phone.
5. On another sheet of paper, write again the names of those attending the dinner.
6. Leave five blank lines between names.
7. For each of the attendees, write five good qualities that each person has.
8. If you can’t find something good about a particular person, skip it and go to the next one.
9. When you are done, go back to fill in the blanks for the people you left behind.
10. No, you can’t help but look for five qualities from each person who will be at the meeting.
11. Put down the pen or stop writing if you are using a word processor. I recommend that you do it by hand: it is more powerful.
12. After you are done with everyone, say each name out loud and bless this person.
For example, Aunt Myrtle:
(1) makes delicious brownies,
(2) sing beautifully,
(3) knows how to shop for bargains,
(4) dresses extravagantly, if you like the way she dresses; otherwise, find something else–
(5) remember everyone’s birthday.
Bless you, Aunt Myrtle; Hope to see you at dinner (you can add the word God, if you wish, as in: God bless you, Aunt Myrtle, I’m looking forward to it, etc., etc.)
Do you have the picture? What if you just hate a person so passionately that you can’t think of a good quality, even if your life depended on it? Look deeper. I swear it’s possible to find those five good qualities, even if they’re bad. At least they are qualities!
Now, prepare for a miracle. When you arrive at the meeting, you will see that those who annoy you will leave you alone; those who criticize you will be nice, or at least mute; those who love you will go out of their way to make you feel welcome, and so on.
It’s about your energy with respect to these people. I guarantee that he will be so pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable the meeting was that he wishes he had known about this process a long time ago.
By the way, after the holidays are over, you can still use this process for any occasion, really. You just need to start making your list every time you need to meet someone else.