The holidays can be stressful. I know. Travel, expectations, sugar, gifts. In-laws, out-laws, cocktails, more sugar. More expectations, a sideways look or three, a late night party or four. An argument or two … usually in whispers or just with nonverbal huffs and puffs (as if no one is noticing).

Do what happy couples do: don’t blame. Just laugh. Meaning, at yourself. It should work. Laughing is contagious, especially when first directed at self.

Diffuse the tense sugar-low/in-law high/don’t-like-sleeping-in-this-bed/wish-your-relatives-were-more-perfect-like-me moments by being self-depricating and humble.

Like today when it took 36 minutes to find the single dog leash we brought on our journey to multiple houses. Did I laugh? Not right away. I was too busy sponging up dog pee on grandma’s carpet. Then once missing leash was found, where did it end up? Yep – on the roof of the car. Then where? Flying into a ditch on the highway, of course, in the darkness of a Wisconsin winter night. Was it all my husband’s fault? Of course it was. Of course I yelled grouchily at him (without contempt or criticism, thank you Dr. Gottman. Just with good old irritation).

Okay, so do what I say, not what I do. My kids know the drill (“Stop yelling at me from upstairs!!” … Oh, yes, I just yelled that, didn’t I?)

We eventually laughed as we bumped over the river and through the hills to grandmother’s house where we ate, drank and laughed some more. And the dog only pooped inside once (but don’t tell grandma; she didn’t notice – yet).

Whatever you do and where ever you celebrate this season, may laughter fill most of your moments.