I love Christmas. I love the decorations. I love being at the malls. I love the music… minus Feliz Navidad, which is arguably the worrrrst song of all time. The radio stations typically play the same terrible to okay songs every year, so last year I posted a list of some of my favourite Christmas music to demonstrate why I love Christmas music so much. This year I found 3 more great Christmas albums: Rend Collective’s Camp Fire Songs, Matt Redman’s Lights, and Lauren Daigle’s Behold. You’re welcome for that bonus thought. Christmas music is heartwarming; there’s a reason I’m pumping it as early as Halloween… and it’s not just because I’m partially insane. Unfortunately, just like with music there are some things about Christmas that are terrible. For instance, we all end up doing an event or two we don’t want to go to, and sometimes that’s our visit with family. To help survive this year, I thought I’d compile a few tips to help people handle the holiday events better:
Let’s start with a list of positives about seeing people we don’t want to see because, as I continually write, there is good in all things:
- It’s good to be challenged and pushed outside of our comfort zone.
- It’s a great chance to practice boundaries. I’ve worked with clients where being with family pushed them to know when to stand up for themselves in a loving way (aka being assertive) as well as addressing the gift giving rules to reduce waste and hurt.
- It’s a chance to practice our conversation skills, and to know how and when to purposely change the conversation to something more comfortable for us.
- It gives us a chance to hear other people’s stories and learn something.
- And if nothing else, at least you’ll have something or someone to laugh about later. I say laugh and not complain because laughing is a much healthier response.
And now for a list of practical things we can do to make the visit easier:
- Read the newspaper beforehand or gather some random facts, so you have something to talk about that’s not personal, especially if you can find information about something you know people there particularly care about. And/or go through my blogs from the year and pick topics that you can use as conversation starters.
- Find an activity like colouring, building something like a model, or game you can do on your own and others can join in on if they want. Sometimes seeing someone do something will gather interest.
- Bring a couple games that you can play with a handful of people: Tapple, Sequence, Blokus, Wizard, Pandemic, Jenga, etc.
- Bring a couple games that you can play with a large group of people: Pictionary, charades, Catchphrase, Taboo,
- Bring a TV show or movie you really like and want to share with others or put on and give the option for others to join you later.
- Print a list of conversation starter questions you can bring out to get some new conversations started.
- Create a bingo game for you and another person or two to play that involves things like getting other people at the party to say certain words, do certain actions like yawn, or give certain reactions, so you have a reason to talk to people. A challenge can inspire you to try harder to meet people and lead to more fun.
- Make a rule that there’s no TV or phones allowed for a certain amount of time to encourage people to connect with each other.
- Write out a list of things you’ve done this year that you can bring up in conversation so you have something in your head to talk about. Improv professionals don’t show up mindless to a show; they practice and prepare, so we should prepare in some way for meeting people if we want to be more interesting.
- Purposely do something like go to a Catholic mass, visit a shelter, prison, or event the day of or before you go to meet people, so you can talk about where you just were.
Good luck, and Merry Christmas.
Rev Chad David, www.ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people