This is the time of year when various kinds of family anxiety may show up, especially regarding people who may be dear to us but whom we don't see often.
So much of this, I think, is because everyone feels it obligatory to maintain a steady stream of conversation, which would make anyone anxious--like being perpetually on stage.
What if upon arrival (or our guests' arrival) we could all exchange silence coupons?
If people could get used to being quiet together, cooking or reading the paper or taking walks, etc., appreciating each others' presence without having to speak much, everything would be so much easier.
I think of the way children can at times silently occupy a space together--parallel play--a very restful way of enjoying each others' company.