Coping with Christmas: Make your own family traditions

Big family get-togethers can trigger painful and conflicting emotions. A game plan on which you both agree can be a source of strength and support and help you manage those potentially awkward situations.

A game plan to minimise festive awkwardness

Be selective about accepting invitations – you don’t have to say yes to everything, especially if there are going to be lots of children or pregnant women. Restricting the time spent at the event can also help. Consider going just before the meal rather than the night before.

Prepare answers to difficult questions – decide in advance how you will handle difficult and insensitive questions; you may even want to rehearse your answers to prevent being caught off-guard.

Talk to your partner about how you both feel – it is easy to become upset about trivial things when you have a deeper underlying issue and this can be misunderstood as a form of rejection.

Make your own traditions – create a special ceremony or ritual that says that you and your partner are already a family, and that you can rejoice in your love for each other, with or without children.

Spend time doing things you like best – prepare a spectacular meal, take long walks, meet friends who don’t have children, go jogging, or curl up by a fire with a good novel. You may have to put up with comments like “how can you be so selfish?” or “the holiday won’t be the same without you.” But that may be easier to bear than a holiday table packed with children.

Express your appreciation – tell friends and relatives who have given you their love and support that you appreciate them. It is often difficult for them to say how they feel for the risk of upsetting you.

Capture the “spirit” of the holiday that makes it special – participate in activities that bring meaning to you at this time; create the joy intended in celebrating the holiday for its own sake.

Christmas tree

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