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The holidays are a time for family to eat, drink and be merry. But it's also a time of family feuds. Gatherings can be stressful and tension is tough on everyone. The other day I was talking to a friend and he shared his family drama with me. Listening to him made me feel better because I thought it was just my family that was complicated. I realized that all families have their issues to work through. And for some reason, all those issues are under the microscope between Thanksgiving and La Víspera de Reyes.
Here are six things to remember that may help keep the peace:
Pick a corner. My madrina used to say, "There are four corners to every room. Pick one." She didn't believe in the whole family being punished when only a few didn't get along. Just because there's a family member you aren't speaking to, that doesn't mean you can't attend the same function. Put your big girl panties on and go. Pick a corner and stay out of their way.
Pick a neutral location. Want to gather the family but don't feel good about leaving anyone out? Pick a safe place like a local restaurant or holiday attraction. That way you're not hosting a relative you're fighting with, and no one feels obligated to choose between the people they love. Everyone wins!
Stay away from hot topics. The dinner table is often where it all goes down. Keep discussions light, especially if you know other members in your family have opposing views. If you know Tío Hector is against abortion, don't bring up that you protested for a woman's right to choose. Don't even think about politics. Or religion. Or anything you've heard on the news. And maybe Elf on the Shelf...
Keep the door open. You haven't spoken to or seen your cousin and her kids in more than a year, but you really want to let bygones be bygones. Make the effort and put the invitation out there. If they refuse, that's OK. Keep putting it out there. Maybe one day they will accept.
Mind your business. I cannot stress this enough. MIND. YOUR. BUSINESS. And definitely don't pick a side. As much as we love chisme, if it doesn't involve you, don't get involved. Yes, you can listen and it's OK to offer some advice, but don't be the one to add fuel to the fire.
Let it go. This is the season to forgive and forget. Think about how much you love each other. Think about the children involved and how tough it is it for them to see the adults they love not speaking. Think about the example you are setting for the younger generation. Family will fight. Hurtful words may be exchanged. Put that aside and think about the history you share. The holiday season is the perfect time to put all the feuding behind you. A new year is about to begin and you can wipe the slate clean to start over.