The Joy, or Irritation, of Family Christmas

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Christmas is coming again. We reassess last years get together, hope it is repeated if it was joyful or perhaps wishing those previous issues can be avoided.

We want to be excited and happy; we want to relax and enjoy, but with so many expectations upon us, presents to purchase, credit card at its limit and family members to visit; it is getting exceedingly hard.

I just want to stop, relax, see who I want and avoid those I don’t. But we are a family, how can I do this or is it yet another year of turning up, smiling, tolerating, kissing and saying goodbye till next year?

The holidays, with all their joyfulness and tradition, can be incredibly stressful for many. Families interact and tensions are remembered. For some, it may be the first time to celebrate without that family member who passed away during the year or remembering that loved one no longer with us.

When it comes to gathering with extended family, some have immense tensions and pressures. Often the most meaningful times are those spent with immediate family or with a few close friends sitting quietly reminiscing over the year that has past, and planning the year ahead, sharing your dreams.

How do we prepare and get through this busy period of the year and remain relaxed and happy?

  1. Keep yourself in perspective

We need to acknowledge our feelings and situation. We must stop comparing our family with others. We see so many social media posts on the family happiness and sharing but be aware, most will only post the face facade, nothing behind the scenes of course.

Families are similar everywhere. They are made up of a variety of different people, different life experiences and expectation, different values, yet, we are all blood relatives or connected through marriage. They are our family, all different, some unique, others entertaining but all with their special and personal story, issues and life.

  1. Be Prepared

If we prepare ourself to see all the family members we can at Christmas, knowing we will be tired, it can help us be ready.

The end of the year is a time to stop, reflect and make decisions for the new year ahead. We at times need to be aware of people’s differences and while sometimes we may become annoyed at others because they do not fit our expectation of behaviour or opinion, be aware they may also feel and think the same about you. You are both right, but do we have the right to push our expectations onto them and expect them to agree or change. When they don’t this is when we can become frustrated or angry. This must be let go and it has no place at Christmas. This is the time of tolerance, happiness, sharing and loving. We can all do that, can’t we?

Prepare yourself that you and others will be tired. You are all different people and this is what makes us interesting individuals.

  1. Set clear alcohol boundaries. 

As a grown-up, you have the power to make choices, hopefully, good ones. Be aware that many family members may be tense after a busy Christmas planning period, planning, shopping and a full year of work; everyone wants to relax and stop.

Know there may be some tension within some members and consider making a choice to drink little amounts of alcohol, especially if kids are around. When liquor flows too freely, so can opinions and language. Things may be said that can’t be unsaid. Keeping yourself in check is always wise and welcomed.

  1. Travel limits can help

We may have family living in various areas, and it can be difficult to try to fit everyone in on one day. Christmas is a period of time, not a day. We have Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing day, all the Christmas period.

We may also have the expectation of being where we are told to be but as we mature and our family grows these demands can become difficult. It may be time to start setting your limits.

I suggest to many couples they establish time schedules and advise all family members of your parameters. It may be you have breakfast at your home to wake up relaxed, open your gifts and allow the kids to play for a while with theirs. Then you can lunch at one house, dinner at the next and even Boxing Day at another.

Trying to spread yourself too thin on one day only generates more tension within us as we move quickly from place to place, needing to be on time to avoid disappointing our family.

Time to stop, relax and get there when you can, is best. Pace yourself.

  1. Connect with your partner

Sharing the load with your partner is vital. If one of you work full time and the other doesn’t work or only part time then naturally the pressure to shop, cook, prepare, falls on the person with more time. This does not mean however the other person should not be involved, of course, they should.

Set a roster of things that need doing, people that need to be contacted regarding the festive season visitation schedule, presents to purchase, wrap, hide, and the list continues. Remaining connected lessens the load and increases the sharing.

Where both work, then sharing all areas of preparation is essential. It is fun too. Preparation is the key.


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When you have your agreement and have shared that information with family, you can start to enjoy the season ahead, with less stress and lower anxiety.

Christmas is a fantastic time of the year, it brings us together, enables us to catch-up with those we haven’t seen or spoken to for way too long. Reconnection is beautiful.

Plan, Prepare and Enjoy this incredible time of year – it only comes once every year.

The set your plans for the year ahead and use Virtual Hypnotherapy sessions to help you lose the weight, stop smoking, decrease anxiety or remove any past baggage so you can commence the new year, renewed, refreshed and ready for the new year ahead.

Listen to Dr Karen speak about this on radio 2GB

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