WHILE Christmas Day can be a happy day for many families, for some it can be a tense and difficult time. Are you worried about tension between family members on Christmas Day? Relationships Australia Counsellor Dr Ingrid Sturmey says planning the day well and having a good attitude is paramount.
Before the big day
- If you're hosting Christmas Day, structure it so that there is less alcohol and some distance between those people who don't get along. If possible, try to involve everyone. Keep the day moving; even plan a trip to the park or beach if it will keep things on track. This way, everyone contributes, brings a plate, and cleans up, keeping the day really casual.
- It's common these days for kids to have Christmas Eve dinner with their father's family, and Christmas Day lunch with their mother's - or vice versa. Don't be afraid to set up 'new' Christmas traditions in your family. Without having to get into a close relationship with your ex, you can invite them around on Christmas Day as a way of saying: 'You're part of our social network, and you're important to the children. It's courteous inclusiveness and can be very healing.
- If you are alone, plan in advance to do something you enjoy or get together with a friend who is also alone or take part in a community activity.
On Christmas Day
- Lower your expectations of the day and focus on the joy of Christmas, not the demands and pressure.
- Reflect on past events by looking at some old photos or items of special significance and remember family members who are no longer with you.
- Take group photos which will show over time the expansion of the family and provide an opportunity for Christmas rituals.
- Play some games - encourage the children and adults to play backyard cricket, table tennis, badminton or a trivia quiz. Sharing activities will release tension and provide a sense of fun.
- And finally, don't try to resolve year-long hurts or disagreements on Christmas Day - use the next 364 days to sort out relationship issues.
For more information or support during the holiday season call Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 or visit our website: www.relationships.org.au