For many of us, it's holiday time! The time of the year you get around your cousins and you're the same little kids that were mixing pop like you were a bunch of little Brian Flanigan's (80's reference…but a solid one) and sneaking treats to go with. It doesn't matter what college you ended up going to, how many promotions you have or haven't received, or if you're waiting tables at the local restaurant. Family is that equalizer. The much needed and perfect dose of humility via that imperfectly cut slice of humble pie.
It doesn't matter if you're a captain in the army, Vice President at a marketing firm, or a daycare provider when Aunt Jeanie looks at the garbage and looks at you, you get off your butt and take that trash out because to her you're still the kid running around with arm floaties trying to make it to the bathroom in time. And in all reality, you are that same kid and need to remember and embrace that.
This year humility takes a slightly different angle with everyone being dealt a slightly different 2020 hand, and even the gathering venue or attendee list has changed. Some may have excelled but many more had a rough go at 2020. Not just professionally, but more importantly personally and emotionally.
You may not like the kid you were, the reputation you have from that one home movie they wont stop playing, or maybe you were the youngest cousin and were left out of everything (sorry Jess). It may be that you're CRAZY proud of everything you've done and accomplished since then, and you tend to use the holiday settings as a way to get in your long, overdue humble brags to those that didn't accomplish what you did. This is not the year for that.
Maybe you are the person that struggled this year and your older brother, or your cousin, or even your damn over achieving nephew has been crushing it this year, meanwhile you're on the second round of dessert and still hearing about their accomplishments. Fight your urge to comment about them getting their 4 year degree in 6 years, or how they're just a beneficiary of being in a lucky industry. Resist. This is not the year for that.
Holiday family gatherings are about the collective, they're not about an individual. If you were fortunate enough to have a great 2020 professionally, personally or emotionally I commend you but you are likely in the minority. There are plenty people at that holiday party that are on the struggle bus and have been for most of the year, so this year check your humble brag at the door before entering and be cognizant of the tone and how you're contributing to the conversation. That being said…
Here are a couple 2020 holiday gathering pointers:
Humble brags never sound humble. They're very obvious. Save them for a different venue.
"Did you think to try…". They probably did, and unless they're directly asking for your input or advice, it's best to assume they're not seeking it, and just be willing to listen.
Be encouraging. Many of your family members may have taken on a new job this past year. No matter what it is, be encouraging.
As always, expect extreme talks on both ends of the spectrum from election fraud to the reasoning we should wear our masks while we sleep. "I apologize I have not been paying enough attention but I see what you're saying" is typically my out.
Don’t complain if you have to sit at the kids table. Their conversations are often far more entertaining.
This is the year to get to the core of what matters, and that's family. Family is not limited to bloodline. Family are those that have been there for you throughout the important growth opportunities in your life. Use this holiday season as a reminder of that. Whether you're experiencing one another in person, via Zoom or through a phone call that it's time to get back to the root of why you are who you are, and enjoy that slice of humble pie.
Note: All of the opinions expressed in this article are my own, and are not a reflection of the viewpoint of my employer.