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For many, Christmas is a time of parties, gifts and food. A time to be around loving family members and playing games with the children.

But there is another reality. Christmas can be a time of dread and anxiety. A time when you have to face the dysfunctional parents or siblings; listen to their unhealthy opinions and expose yourself to their unhealthy attitudes towards you or life in general.

Here’s my tips for dealing with them:

Eliminate the obligation to visit

You are an adult now; you can do as you please. You don’t have to explain yourself and you can change your mind at any point. If you decide to not go, do it for you and allow yourself to enjoy Christmas.

Make Christmas about you again

Plan your Christmas around yourself, not your family. Christmas parties, visiting friends, all the normal things and put family way at the back of your mind (where they sometimes belong).

Set a specific time-frame for the visit

Decide in advance how long you will stay and ensure your partner is on board and supportive of this. Fulfill the basic requirements of showing your face and then leave at the first window of opportunity.

Pick a neutral location

Being in unfamiliar territory or around different people might control their behaviors and force them to ACT mature. If an opportunity to share Christmas with someone outside the direct family (such as aunties or uncles) then take it. Another alternative is to celebrate Christmas in a hotel, using the fact no one has to cook as a major advantage.

Keep the conversation basic and civil

Do NOT discuss the past or any rows/disagreements. Discuss TV, sports, current affairs, etc.

Do not be drawn into the niceness

Killing you with kindness is often used to disarm, encouraging you to drop you guard and be pulled back into the dysfunction. You may accidentally divulge private information which you would not normally share with the family and fuel their interfering ways.

Mentally detach

You may have to be physically present but no one says you have to listen to them. “Switching off” is a great skill when around unhealthy people who try to feed your mind worries or there negative opinions. They may be annoyed and react with “You never listen”, but it’s worth the price.

Only spend what you want on presents

If you weren’t bothered by them, how much would you actually spend on them? Would you spend anything at all? Be honest. Reflect on what you have spent in the past and how it much it was actually appreciated.

Find the happiness of Christmas

Children understand Christmas better than any adult. They take joy in every part it: the weather, the TV programs, time off school, playing with new toys, being around fiends. That still in exists in you now, you just need to stop being so serious. Break out a video game; play Lego with the kids; throw snow at friends. And have some FUN!!!

I hope this helps and please take care of yourselves over Christmas.

Karl

Written by Karl Melvin