If you're like me, you will probably be traveling and staying with family this holiday season. You may be staying with in-laws, friends, or your own blood relatives; all of which could be fabulous, or put you at the edge of disaster depending on your situation!
Staying in the same house with family for more than one night can produce some anxiety, and possibly some frustration or conflict; however I have some wise advice that will help make this season of family togetherness the best it can be. It has to do with being the best guest.
It's so easy to fall into the trap of expectation when we're with family over the holidays. Not only do we feel most comfortable with our own traditions or our mothers hosting techniques that we have acquired, our in-laws may not share those same traditions. And it's sooo touchy, you know what I'm saying? You go to your in-laws house, and there are no towels laid out, and you feel badly asking for a towel- or worse yet, you get out of the shower on the morning of day 1, and there are no towels there like you expected there would be! Have you been there? Now what?? These seemingly tiny subtleties of hosting can really frustrate us as they add up. They even have the ability to build resentment or traveler's anxiety over time, taking away from the joy of the season.
This holiday season, I suggest we start changing our expectations on our hostesses, and start trying to be the best guest we can be. After all, we have no control over how someone else hosts our families, right? But, we can control ourselves and how we view our stay at someone's home. After all, even if they do things a little differently than you would, they are still graciously opening their home to you and yours for a few nights, which is a lot of stress in it's own right!
So, think about how you can lift a hand, help with dinner, take drink requests from the other guests and help out! Ask your hostess if she needs any help getting toiletries ready for other guests who may be arriving later than you, (get your towel at this time- hint, hint). If you feel like they aren't appreciating your fabulous children and their energy, make sure to take trips outside to play so your parents and siblings without kids can have some quiet time of their own. They are sure to be more appreciative of the bounding energy if it's in smaller doses.
I truly believe when we focus more on how we can do our best in the situation, not only will we be invited back more frequently (the good news bad news??) but we find that overall, we have a better time than if we focus on our expectations and how our in-laws, friends or family failed us in some way.
I tested my theory this past week over Thanksgiving. We were with my family this year, (luckily my family is awesome!) However, I always get pinned as being "too loud", which has always irritated me because I really can't help it (or so I say.) Instead of feeling unappreciated for my gregarious nature, I decided to try to be the best guest, trying to consciously keep my voice lower. You know what? Just focusing on what I could do better made it the best trip home I've had since college.
Here we are: aren't we cute?
I hope these thoughts encourage you this season, and the gift of giving your best self to your family may be the best gift you give to yourself, allowing you to focus on the joy of giving to others. Happy Homecomings!