There may be no place like home for the holidays, but these gatherings can be precarious affairs. It seems even the most innocuous remark comes loaded with extra freight — a lifetime of built-up resentments and slights.
“Nice haircut! I love your hair short!”
“I know, I know — you’ve always hated my long hair!”
“How’s the job hunt going?”
“I’m doing the best I can! It’s not like I’m sitting around eating bon-bons all day!”
“You’re leaving so soon?”
“Just because I’m single doesn’t mean I don’t have a life back home!
It’s no wonder so many people return from the holidays in need of a vacation.
Here’s a tip for navigating these family interactions: try to take what people say at face value. Cast off all the pent-up frustrations and disappointments. Respond as if the comment was coming from a stranger.
Maybe Mom just really likes your haircut. Maybe Dad is genuinely concerned and wants to help with your job search. Maybe they just enjoy your company and want you to stick around longer.
In other words, assume innocence.
Yes, it’s important to really listen, to read body language, to discern intention and to try and understand what people are really saying. But try taking a vacation from all that, just for a few days. Answer the question that’s asked openly and cheerfully. Then let it go and move on.
Photo by inoc