Many of us are leaving our comfy hearths behind us to venture into the houses of kith and kindred, hoping for a slice of pie without too much sturm und drang.
Is that even possible in these chaotic and polarized times?
Maybe. Maybe with a few guiding principles. Let’s see if we can create a sensible and helpful list, shall we?
There can be a fair amount of guilt and shame about this. You can be judged for eating too little, for eating too much, for having seconds on mashed potatoes but not on broccoli. You may be bullied into submission by Grandma’s gimlet eye and wagging finger.
Know your limits before you go in. Are you a low carb-er? Let ’em know you won’t be eating a basket full of rolls, no matter how delish they are. You will be exclaiming over the crispness of the turkey skin, helping toss the perfect salad, suggesting brown rice over Uncle Ben’s.
Are you a vegetarian or vegan in a meat eating family? Vice versa? Know what you will and won’t eat and don’t be bullied. Also, don’t be a jerk about it. Take the high ground.
If you do, don’t dull the political conversation by getting drunk. Take a long walk, practice some art or craft, watch parades on tv.
Speaking of which…the world is a terribly complex place right now and you may be spending time with people whose views make you want to vomit. You can argue with them for the whole time you are together or you can let it go. It will depend on your family dynamic and your level of political engagement, I suspect.
Here are some general tools for your holiday toolkit. Use any that may work for you.
Ground yourself and keep your shields up when you feel triggered.
Take lots of walks.
Insist on continuing your daily meditation/prayer time–however you need to frame that for your family.
Try not to feel you need to jump into every fight you are invited to. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. Silence, nodding, smiling your mysterious smile.
Know where you are willing to be flexible and where you aren’t. Does it really matter that your cousin thinks vegans are weird? Probably not.
And the single most important things to carry with you? Your sense of humor and your big, loving, golden heart. Practice kindness whenever possible. Practice patience when need be.
Be the kind of guest you’d want at your table and remember you can go home soon.
Be well. Tend your heart. Travel safe. Eat pie.