I'm the oldest sibling of five girls (my parents were trying to fix the marriage), and even though I'm super close with my sisters, our relationships over the holidays always regress by two decades or more.
You remember those early years with siblings during the holidays, right? All the horrible things you did...
You did everything from hitting them to screaming at them, to calling them names, to wishing them dead, to posting pics of barnyard animals on your Instagram and tagging them in those pics — oh.
That's right, I've done all these things as a fully grown woman because the holidays make me feel like a toddler who's been left in a basement to raise herself.
So, here are a few tips my therapist has given me since I'm clearly not qualified to give advice on the subject of sibling relationships.
May you all be more successful than I was.
1. Manage your expectations.
There are bound to be some conflicts during the holidays.
You're all gathered together under one roof again, and it's going to bring up all the feels. So, hunker down and get ready to enter your own personal Emotional 'Nam.
This is family, baby. It COULD get ugly, but it doesn't have to.
Try not to walk in the front door expecting a Norman Rockwell painting. It's never been that, and it's never going to BE that.
2. Accept your losses.
Let's say childhood was a game.
You lost it years ago, but your entire life has been like an instant replay of that one moment when you thought you could've turned things around for yourself and gotten more love by being more helpful, less pushy and more outspoken.
Sure, the players have changed, but the situation remains the same.
Maybe you keep attaching to groups of friends that leave you out of things the way your older sibling did, or you go out with people who walk 7 feet in front of you with no concern for your wellbeing like your dad used to do.
Let go of the game. You lost.
It wasn't your fault, and it's good to cry about it.
This way, you can stop expecting something from people who aren't capable of giving it to you, and you can start giving it to yourself.
3. Live that therapy life.
Here's one thing I HAVE done right, and if I can do it, you can, too.
Schedule a session with your therapist. You can schedule it before the holiday and one right after.
Or, if you're like me and your family is like an emotional fire in the zoo, maybe you can schedule one while you're there.
The point is, make sure to do things to take good care of yourself. It pays off in more ways than one.
Not only will it lower your stress level, but it will also give you the reassurance you are, indeed, all you need.
4. Get into the forgiveness bizness.
I literally couldn't help myself with that cheesedick slogan. I love it.
I just came up with it, and it's great.
But, I digress. The point is, regardless of what's happened in your sibling relationships, you deserve to forgive them because the resentment could be keeping you down.
Try to remember the awful things your siblings have done to you in the past was a result of their own unhappiness.
Holding it against them might be more hurtful to you than it is to them because holding grudges only stagnates your own progress.
You can make this holiday season work the same way you make your own life work: by stumbling through it and doing the best you can, forgiving yourself and others along the way.
Nobody is perfect, and that's OK.