UNITED STATES─With the holiday season as I like to call it, fast approaching, many of us are placed in that conundrum where we have to deal with dreaded family members that we do not personally get along with. That is the thing about holidays, we love it because we get to spend it with family, but at the same time, we hate it because of the stress of having to spend it with family. You’re going to encounter that sibling you haven’t spoken to in weeks, months or perhaps years, you have that aunt or uncle who is always criticizing someone or something, how about a grandparent who is overly affectionate or blunt with their wording and the chaos goes on and on.

However, I want you to take a moment, take a deep breath and think before you react. Do not allow that silly squabble or stupid argument to place you in a situation where you do not speak to a loved one for years. Why? Life is too short, tomorrow is not promised and you never know when that loved one might not wake up or you don’t wake up.

You don’t want to be placed in a situation where you live with regret. I know that better than anyone because I can certainly hold a grudge. You screw me over and I’ll cut you out my life quicker than you can count to three. Perhaps that’s because I rarely allow many people to get too close into my orbit, but I’m learning to let that guard down more and more each day.

With that being said, your goal this Thanksgiving is to spend time with those that bring you joy. That does not mean you have to spend the holiday with your entire family. We used to do that, but it has been simplified over the years. People start having families and you start crafting your own family traditions in the process. For those struggling with the loss of loved ones, spend the holiday with close friends in your orbit.

Yes, Friendsgiving has really become a thing and it’s no different than Thanksgiving, except you spend it with pals than immediate family. On top of that the conversation tends to be lighter and you don’t have to worry about some explosive argument getting underway because someone decided to chat about politics, religion or bringing up a past issue that you prefer not to talk about.

If you have an issue with a loved one this is a perfect time to get it out in the open. Have a frank, possible tough conversation and place it all out on the table. Do not be rude or disingenuous in the conversation, but also listen. That is the key word: listen. Let your voice be heard, but let the other party be heard. Tell them how you feel and hopefully that will be an icebreaker to the issue at hand to clarify exactly what is the tension between you and how you can resolve or at least co-exist without wanting to kill one another.

Remember family is precious. We don’t get to choose our families, but at the same time blood is blood. There is a reason they say blood is thicker than water. The people bonded to you by blood are the ones that can cut you so deep it hurts to the core. At the same time though, as deep as that cut is you always want to find a way to try to heal it even if you might get cut again.