The in-laws are coming! The in-laws are coming!
You can feel the tensions rise as Canadians from coast to coast ready their homes for the holiday invasion.
They’re bracing for the uncle who invariably sends dinner conversations sideways with his kooky politics.
Or the chronically cold family member who, upon her arrival, always cranks up the heat, transforming her host’s home into a sweat box.
And how about those well-meaning grandparents who make commendable but rarely successful attempts to “zip it” (their words, not ours) when it comes to best child-rearing practices for their darling grandchildren?
No question, too much togetherness can breed friction on the holiday home front. Toss a glass or three of spiked Christmas punch into the mix and life can get really spicy.
“Family is important to all of us but let’s be honest, being together under one roof is rarely the perfect scenario,” says Fraser Abbott, director of business development at Hotel Arts Group in Calgary. “What if everyone involved started thinking about quality of time together, versus quantity of time?”
Abbott suggests thinking outside the box (a.k.a. being an out-law rather than an in-law) and factoring in a hotel stay as part of the holiday picture.
“Out-of-town guests can take breaks from the cacophony of Whoville — maybe quiet time back in their hotel room or shopping downtown —before jumping back into celebrations,” he says. “And the host family can take a much-needed breather given the unrelenting demands of the season.”
When asked about why family relationships are so strained this time of year, Calgary psychologist Nicole Sheldon of Sheldon Psychology Group reminds us that expectations on all sides are ridiculously high during Christmas. What’s more, she says, people simply get cranky when personal routines are disrupted.
“Then put everyone under the same roof where they have to adapt to the habits of others? Personal boundary breaches are bound to happen,” says Sheldon. “If there’s a good deal on a comfortable hotel nearby, then why not consider it? Make it a Christmas gift for whoever you would have otherwise hosted.”
After all, she insists, the whole point of relatives coming together during the holidays is to nurture relationships, not jeopardize them. “I know a handful of families who would benefit from a scenario like this. Expectations would shift, and I expect there would be huge relief on all sides.”
Trade up holiday stress for a stylish hotel getaway? Sounds priceless to us.