When You’re home for the holidays
1 Get involved Engage in your family gatherings the way the grown-ups do. A sevenyear-old doesn’t make a side dish or delight her relatives with charming conversation—but you’re not seven so it’s time to show it. People could look forward to your carbonara the way they do Tita Martha’s bread pudding. “No store-bought cake in a plastic box,” says Ellen*, 33. “Learn to make a few dishes your family likes.” And according to Taylor, spending time with your parents, aunts, cousins, and grandparents—and asking about their lives, not just talking about yours—shows that you are a full participant in the holiday, not a kid expecting to be waited on. 2 Don’t treat your parents’ house like you belong there Because you don’t. At least not the way you did when you lived there. Follow normal houseguest niceties—pick up after yourself, respect your parents’ routines, buy some groceries and send flowers after your stay. Indicate that you don’t expect free room and board. Children are entitled to those things; adults are not. You are an adult. Think of it this way: if you wouldn’t do it while staying at a friend’s place, don’t do it at your parents’.
3 Stop the buttonpushing
Here’s a fun game: name five verbal Molotov cocktails—you know, topics that are guaranteed to start a fight if you toss them into a conversation with your family. This year, mention none of them. Forget how right you are and/or how wrong your parents are—just skip it. Account manager Teresa*, 29, often reroutes the conversation. “If my dad or mom starts on a land-mine topic, I sweetly bring up something they’re excited about.” This isn’t to say that real issues should be swept under the rug and never talked about—but Christmas dinner is not the time or place. Face it: you’re not going to change your uncle’s views by screaming at him over dessert, so rather opt for harmony and maturity.