I come from a long line of people with very short fuses. I also come from a long line of people who are either very heavy drinkers or very anti-drinking. This leads to me not being able to remember more than a handful of family gatherings in my childhood that didn’t break out into a big fight.
Our family gatherings nowadays are very low drama. How’d we do it? Well, we moved 2 states away from most of the troublemakers. But we’re still a bunch with short fuses- how do we keep the drama down? Here’s a guide:
- Serve dinner on time.
This could very well be the most important tip of all. Picture hungry, cranky kids plus adults who have spent too long on cocktail hour with nothing substantial to eat, and you’re just asking for trouble.
- Make a rule: no religion or politics.
Now, in my immediate family, we’re all the same religion and we all have the same general political leanings, so one would think that wouldn’t lead to problems. It does anyway.
- Joke it away.
If someone says something that’s obviously designed to make everyone else mad, my brother is good about stepping in and turning it all into a joke.
- Get the jerk out of the room.
You’d be surprised at how a well-timed “Hey, Uncle Bob, I want to show you the rose bush I planted in the backyard. It’s doing something weird and I need your advice.” works. Of course, now you’re stuck with hearing how Uncle Bob faced the Germans 80 years ago, but hey. Anything to keep the peace, right?
And if all else fails, you can always move. Trust me, it works.