Our loved ones are the glue that holds us all together, but good relationships don’t just happen by accident. If you want your special bonds to stay special, you gotta go the extra mile every now and then! While certain connections are easier and more effortless than others, there's always room for improvement. It may take a little work when it comes to those trickier customers but the pay-off is worth it. Try a few of the following ideas on for size.
Start to forgive
We get it – someone hurt your feelings or caused a drama that seems unforgivable. Forgive them anyway. Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their poor behaviour, but it allows you to move on. Refuse to partake in old squabbles and gently encourage others to do the same.
Go with the flow
Let go of perfection and you’ll have more time to relax and enjoy yourself. No-one ever remembers if your kitchen was a mess, but they will remember warm welcomes and houses that feel like home.
Keep realistic expectations
Certain people like to stir the pot, that’s their special gift! Take ’em as they come or alter the way you respond. Remember, you can’t change someone else, but you are in control of how you react. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Maybe there’s someone, or several people, who have been MIA from family gatherings for a while. Whatever the reason for their absence, extend a heartfelt invitation. If they can’t be present, make a group phone or video call with the gang.
Build new connections
Not everyone has a ready-made group of crazies with whom to share summer fun. If you know someone who’s going it alone over the holidays – a neighbour, colleague, someone from the gym – invite them to share a meal, drinks or a swim with you and your crew.
Send a handwritten note
Many of us have forsaken hand written cards and personal notes for emails. This may save you time and effort, but time and effort also speak volumes about your commitment to building stronger connections.
Learn someone’s story
It seems you only ever see Cousin John or Great-Aunt Lily at holiday time and, truth be told, you know very little about what makes them tick. So get curious, engage, discover! Even if you think you know someone inside out, there’s always something to learn. And for the person who usually grates your last nerve? Maybe small talk over the washing up might change the course of your shared history.
Play a quick game
When everyone is gathered around the table for a special meal, get them to share something they love about the person sitting next to them. It can be deep and meaningful (‘I love that you’re always there for me’) or even a little less intense (‘I love your potato salad – can I have the recipe please?’). Swap places when it’s time for dessert and start over with a new person.
Get creative with sharing
How many photos did you snap and only post to Facebook, Instagram or your blog last year? Many of us are great at connecting and sharing our lives via social media but not everyone’s granny (or sister or dad) inhabits the online universe. Consider making small photo albums of your pics as new year gifts for close friends and family.
Summer is the perfect time to revisit old traditions and create new ones. We might think we’ve outgrown some of them but no matter how daggy they seem, sharing traditions is a powerful way to build and strengthen bonds. Make sure to treasure yours and be on the lookout for new ones to begin... Remember, these are the ties that bind.