Sad little gingerbread man covering his face
Catherine Lane—Getty Images/iStockphoto
By Stacey Griffith
December 26, 2016

Let’s just put it out there: Holidays can get weird. The travel to and from places is weird, family dynamics are weird, and sometimes, we’re just weird due to external circumstances or internal turmoil.

This will be my first Christmas without my dad, as we lost him to a battle with cancer in July.

It sucks.

I decided years ago when I almost lost my grandmother (his mother) to breast cancer that I would be with her every Christmas until she wasn’t here. She practically raised me, with my mom, from afar, as she lived about a three hour drive from my house growing up. I always drove to her, and I still fly cross country at least three times a year to see her. I am a super fan.

I think as we get older, we begin to realize what “family time” really means. Holiday family time is even more special, because kids are out of school, and some parents get some time off, so it’s a nice chance to really enjoy the company of your siblings and parental units. That is if are they’re still together.

For kids of divorced families, you might have to deal with “I’ll be at dad’s for Christmas and mom’s for Thanksgiving,” and that gets tricky too. I had that my entire young adolescent life. It would switch off every year, until I was 18. It was like a law in my house, there was no bending, there was no getting out of it. It was what it was, and it never changed.

Read More: Why You Act Like a Child When You’re Home for the Holidays

If holiday time for you is starting to get tricky, I have learned the hard way that communicating to your spouse or partner or family for that matter is the best way to make sure you have a seamless holiday.

If there is any reason you have to make changes to your holiday plans, or you’re feeling caught in some type of emotional block about a certain family member, talk it through with another one of your closest family members. Come up with a solution that makes you feel most comfortable. Sometimes it takes really sitting down with yourself and being honest about what you want during the holidays, and who you want to spend your time with. There are times when situations can be a lot more easy to process if you take them on at face value. For example, if Uncle Steve isn’t a nice person, is insensitive, drinks too much, and you just don’t like being around him, arrive to the festivities early in order to see everyone, but leave before he gets there. Telling your family beforehand that you are uncomfortable around him will help, and it’ll clear the elephant in the room when people start to notice the behavior you were referencing.

Likewise, there may be someone who shies away from talking to you. Don’t let this put you off. Go up to them, and ask them gently, “Do you want to go for a walk for a second and catch up?” You never know, it may be that absolutely nothing is wrong, and the person is just suffering from social anxiety.

And, sometimes a lot of people are often times just straight up mean to people because they know no other way. They’re not worth your time.

So this holiday season try to go out of your way to be nice. Crush a room with kindness and see how you feel. You and your family members will be grateful.

Stacey Griffith is a senior master instructor at SoulCycle and the author of the upcoming book Two Turns From Zero. Stacey’s motivational coaching style combines a passion for dance, athleticism and mind-blowing music—all set to the beat of her voice. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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