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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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Surviving Family Holidays

Uploaded: Dec 9, 2016
There are families that genuinely enjoy each other, and the holidays are as intended: good company, good food, music, laughter, storytelling, lights and sparkle.

For many people though holidays with your family is on the spectrum of tolerable to awful. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. You’re not out of the norm. Certain people just leave town to avoid the whole situation.

2. Don't discuss politics or religion.

3. You're not going to change anyone's mind on any topic, so save your breath for deep breathing so you don't blow your top!

4. Find the one or two people you do enjoy and hang out with them, or play with the kids.

5. If someone is saying things you know are in accurate ignore it. Unless you can't, and as I read recently, just say, "Are you sure about that"? And change the subject.

6. Be good at deflecting personal questions. You can generally ignore it as though you didn't hear it, and go talk to someone else. You can even ask if they really need to know that. Your personal life is personal. It's fine to keep it that way.

7. Protect your partner. You are each other's top priority and in each other's care. Sit between your partner and your annoying relative. Make sure you sit together dinner.

8. Don't go above and beyond what you want to do, whether that is time or money. It's good to show up for a bit, however. I’m not advocating doing nothing.

9. Certain families still have difficulty with their LGBTQ family members. So what? Bring your partner. Maybe you won't stay as long if you don't feel like it. Again, you won't convince anyone of anything so don't waste your breath. If an offensive comment is made, let that person know you found it offensive. Leave it at that. Don't editorialize.

10. Set limits. Have boundaries. If your mother says your cake isn’t up to par, ask to stop commenting or invite her leave. You don’t need to put up with crap.

11. Drink – a little, if you want. Too much alcohol can lead to depression, belligerent behavior, or an eruption of topics best left alone – at least in this setting.

12. Many people have a family by blood and the family by choice. Spend time with both if you can.


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