Relatives Visiting for Thanksgiving – a Survival Guide

How to Cope with Roudy Family

The holidays are here again and your relatives are coming. Despite your smile as they come through the door you know you are dreading their arrival. Your privacy is gone. Your house is invaded. The house is a mess. And their opinions during dinner bring you close to a rage, or maybe even insanity. How will you survive another Thanksgiving?


Your guests are only coming for a visit. Keep that in mind. No matter how bad it gets it’s only for a short time. I know the days feel like weeks but don’t let your anxiety make things worse than they are. A week passes in 7 days and if you just keep that in mind it may help you as the mess gets greater and the comments more offensive.

Another good thing is that your kids will get to see their relatives. As a parent you have already learned that life is not all about you and your kids have different needs then you. So when the aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents come through the door remember you are doing it for your kids

But in the meantime here are some ways to prepare and minimize the impact.

Get Organized –

Know before everyone arrives where they will sleep, put their clothing and make room for their things in the bathroom. Assign tasks and hang them around the house. You don’t have to do everyone’s laundry or cook or wash all the dishes alone. Don’t wait for volunteers. With assigned tasks people know what you want them to do without you asking and you won’t be embarrassed to remind them if they forget. You may want to let people know what not to bring to your home, like gum or noisy toys.

Have plans in place –

Ask everyone before they come if they have activities they expect to do. If you expect them to be home at certain times let them know in advance. You don’t want to plan a family activity and then get angry when no one shows up. Since you’ve done this before make a list of everything that went wrong and try to address it before anyone arrives. The best way to have the same problems is to do the things the same way you did them before. Change is in order and if it doesn’t come from you it won’t come at all.

It’s a recession. Is money and issue this year?

In the past you’ve foot the bill for all the meals and everyone stayed at you house and used your toiletries and your car and anything else they could get their hands on. And you always wanted it that way. Hosting Thanksgiving was something you wanted to do. But you can’t really afford it this year. And you feel badly about that. So you have considered canceling. While it would prevent the hassle it would leave everyone without a place to be for the holidays. I suggest you bit the bullet and tell them you need them to chip in this year. Everyone knows things are tight now. They may even have issues about being able to afford coming. It’s not fair nor will it help any marital conflict that you may already be having, to place this additional financial burden on your family. But if your loved ones want to gather at your home they will appreciate your honesty and those who can will give you a hand. Not everyone will be able to contribute and welcoming them anyway would be nice. But if every dollar matters this year let your family know.

You can’t believe how stupid they are –

When you chose your spouse the family came along too. The group may not be one that you would have chosen to be a part of. But you are stuck with them. I would bet politics is going to be a hot topic at the table this year. Issues like health care reform and the continuing war can cause battles in the dining room. But stop yourself if you feel you are getting angry. Ask yourself just how important it is that these issues be agreed upon in your dining room. Sometimes the best thing to say or do is nothing. You probably won’t change their minds and they won’t change yours. See it as a chance for your kids to hear a different point of view. It’s easy to get caught up in a debate that will only lead to anger. Let it slide. Unless, of course, the guy at the table is your Senator or Congressman. Otherwise, just pass.

Nasty comments about you –

You look old. When are you going to get a job? How much weight have you put on? All you want to say is “Don’t come to my house to insult me”. And then you think how old they look or how fat they look and you return the zinger. There is no getting around it – family can e very insensitive. But what do you accomplish by starting WW111 in your home? It’s easy to be rude to rude people. It’s harder to remain polite at those times. Since you can’t win this one don’t even try. Just keep telling yourself that they will be going home in a few days and try not to have Christmas at your house.

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