It may not be immediately obvious how lessons from the self-defense world might help you have a drama-free holiday dinner, but there are many similarities between how you’d handle a potential violent encounter and drama brewing at the in-laws’ during dinner. Clearly, the stakes in either situation are quite different. It’s unlikely your Aunt Edna will stab you if you fail to fork over the mashed potatoes in a timely manner. It’s equally unlikely that the person robbing you in the parking lot is only going to uninvite you from next year’s holiday dinner if you refuse to give them your wallet. Despite these differences in potential outcomes, you may be surprised how much overlap there is between how both situations can be handled.
Avoidance: the action of keeping away
Avoidance is a recurring theme you hear when people who are knowledgeable about self-defense discuss some of the best strategies for dealing with violent criminals. It turns out that avoidance is also a rather good strategy if you’re concerned about holiday drama.
In the self-defense world, avoidance might be as simple as taking steps to make sure you’re not in situations where violence is likely to occur. When it comes to dealing with friends and family during the holidays though, a more nuanced approach is probably preferred. Would it be easier to avoid drama by staying at home until sometime after New Year’s? Probably, but you’d be missing out on time with family and friends.
Chances are high that if you’re worried about holiday drama, you already have a good idea which direction it’s likely to come from. Maybe the aforementioned Aunt Edna has strong opinions about how you dress, your politics or choice of career. Perhaps the potential trouble doesn’t have anything to do with you at all. There could be a long-standing feud between one of your parents and your significant other. Whatever the reason, it’s not uncommon for there to be preexisting family tension.
If you know there’s a certain topic or a hot-button issue that’s likely to cause a fight, don’t bring it up. This can be difficult to do if it’s something you’re passionate about, but just like in self-defense, one of the easiest ways to avoid a fight is not to start one. Conventional wisdom holds that certain topics, like politics or religion, should be avoided during polite conversation. While discourse on potentially divisive topics is hugely important, during the holidays is probably not the best time to have those conversations.
Avoiding specific topics can be an amazingly effective strategy for preventing holiday drama, but what happens if you’re not the one causing the issue? Sometimes despite our best efforts we find ourselves dealing with an instigator of some sort. If someone you usually don’t spend much time with tries to pick a fight with you, don’t worry. There’s a self-defense strategy for handling that also!