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Home for the Holidays

You can go home again with etiquette expert Patti Davis’s adult guide to visiting the folks at Christmas. 

It’s the happiest time of the year! We bundle up by the fire, decorate the tree, gather up the presents and load the car to visit Mother and Daddy for Christmas. Sometimes, the joy stops right there. Going home for Christmas can be the most stressful part of what should be a wonderful holiday. Here are some ideas for making your holiday less “Christmas Vacation” and more “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

1. Remember that your parents are people too. I’ve had so many friends talk about how their folks should act, but it seems they forget that they are not deities, they are just regular people, trying to do the right thing, like the rest of us. They might be equally stressed by your impending visit. They want you to be happy and enjoy yourself. Take a deep breath and try to relax before you walk through their door.

2. Don’t drink too much. This seems to be the No. 1 troublemaker at all family gatherings. Just when you think that second finger of Jack will make everything right, it inevitably exacerbates any lurking bad feelings you have yet to resolve. Now things are worse than when you first arrived. Repeat, don’t drink too much.

3. Lend a hand. You don’t want your parents to treat you like a child, so don’t act like one. Even when your mother insists she does not need help in the kitchen, take out the trash. Make your bed, pick up your towels. Do a load of laundry or run the dishwasher. Little acts of kindness go a long way.

4. Smile, laugh and hug your way through the stay. All they want is to know you love them. Laugh off every criticism or bad word. There is no way to fight with someone who will not engage. It’s only for a little while.

Hopefully, these tips will help you get through the holidays. Remember, your visit will be short, but the memories you make with your family will live in your heart forever.

And treat yourself to that second finger of Jack when you get home. You deserve it.

Patti Davis lives in Atlanta and teaches etiquette at Dazzling MannersShe’ll be here every other month discussing general etiquette and other ways to make life a little nicer in upcoming columns. Do you have an etiquette question? Comment and post it here or e-mail her at [email protected] and she would be delighted to help. You can also follow her on Twitter @DazzlingManners or like her on Facebook
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