Every family has it’s share of drama, and my family is no different. We’re sharing our top tips to get through all the gatherings injury-free.

Let’s start at the beginning, back when I was a kid.

My grandparents on my father’s side were the glue that held us all together. I remember so much of my childhood at my grandparent’s tiny home. I remember how it smelled, the fabric on the couch, and the image of my grandfather playing solitaire at the table. Or how they had mugs in the shape of breasts on their mantle. It’s true!Ask anyone!

Mostly, I remember the warmth of that home.

My entire family would gather in that small house every holiday and often throughout the year and it was always a happy time.

My cousins were my first besties. We were around each other a lot and we were a solid crew growing up.

Apryl's cousins

Then my grandparents passed away, first Grandpa in 2005, and Grandma 4 years later. It’s still hard for us. In fact, just writing that last sentence made me well up.

As with anything, when the glue lets go, nothing sticks. And that’s what happened to our family. Everyone went their separate ways.

For a number of years, we saw each other only once in a while, but we missed each other! Thankfully it was my cousin, Carlie, who arranged for a get-together where the kids played, and we caught up on years of life. It felt so good to do that.

To this day we continue to have our “Cousin’s Christmas”. Our kids know each other and play together so well. We talk, laugh and genuinely love the time together.

My aunt and uncle and my parents come too! The day is truly drama-free, and we make sure of it.  While we may still be our parents’ children, this regular dinner is steadfastly ours.

I asked my family to offer our advice on how to keep the holidays happy:

Some family won’t come, and that’s ok.

Whether it be distance (our family doesn’t all live in the same province) or schedules, or it’s just not their cup of tea, we know that not everyone can make it. We always invite them and don’t get weird if decline the invite. The door is always open for when they choose to come.

No Judgement

We don’t discuss politics or put people down for their life choices. We just catch up on each other’s lives and talk about the kids. It’s genuinely fun and negativity free. There is no judgement, just love.

Make an effort!

Whether you can physically be there or not, with technology now there’s no reason you can’t keep in touch. Lives are busy, but we need to make time for family. We FaceTime family who live too far away to be there in person and the phone gets passed around to talk with everyone. Try to stay in contact, even if it’s a quick call or text to say I’m thinking about you.

Have Zero Expectations

When you’re going somewhere, and you know that there’s typically drama, just go in neutral. Don’t expect everyone to be nice, but don’t expect someone to start drama either. Don’t expect to have an amazing time, but don’t expect to have a terrible time. Just go for the food and what could be a good time. Most likely you will come out having a great time with good conversation.

Focus on What you Have, not on What’s Missing.

For some of my cousins, their fathers are not part of their lives. That has been hard over the years.  Now they focus on what they do have, like aunts, uncles and cousins.  There is so much to be grateful for and we don’t dwell on the family drama at all.

Take Breaks

If someone is getting on your nerves, take a break. Excuse yourself to the bathroom to regroup your feelings. It’s hard to escape when you’re at a family dinner, but it would be worse if you lashed out.

Shrug off Bad Behaviour

Unless it’s your kids! But if one of your adult relatives is lacking manners, the family dinner might not be the best time to address it. Ignore it for the sake of the day, but if it’s really bad, let them know gently that they’re making you feel uncomfortable.

Keep it Happy

Like Ross says in Friends:  Pivot! If the conversation gets too deep, pivot the conversation to keep it light. The family dinner should be fun, so try your best to keep it that way.

Some family drama can’t be helped. Don’t make the dinner a opportunity to try to analyze the situation or fix it. The point of getting together is to have fun and enjoy good food and good company.

This is the advice from my family that really does work. We love spending time together and our kids do too.  It’s really cool that we spent our childhood playing together, and now our kids are playing in the basement. It brings back great memories.

We love the holidays, they should be fun. Hopefully these tips help you, just they have helped us.

Happy Holidays!


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