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Holiday Family Drama? How Do You Cope?

We all have a holiday story: Uncle Joe who drinks too much and tells offensive jokes at dinner; old sibling rivalries revived; our own sudden reversion to childhood behaviors the second we walk in through the front door.

We might love the holidays, but find ourselves trapped in a recurrent family drama year after year.  A romanticized version of family life promoted in holiday songs, television ads, magazines and stores throughout the country would have us believe that “home for the holidays” involves crackling fires, roasting chestnuts, warm embraces and comfort.

But, in reality, during this season of family gatherings many experience tension, conflict, shame, embarrassment, irritation and disagreement. And, for better or wore, what we remember about holidays is usually more about family, gathering together and spending time with loved ones, than about any one particular gift that we receive.

But, because our families are comprised of human beings, rather than characters from a television advertisement, holiday gatherings are often as full of reminders or our past embarrassments and family shortcomings as they are with warmth and increased intimacy.

I often provide tips on getting through difficult moments, but today I’m interested in hearing tips from you.  What is your holiday story and how did you deal with a holiday that might have been far from picture perfect?  How do you handle it when your sister brings up an ex in front of your new partner or when uncle Joe pours himself another glass and starts in on a diatribe about gay marriage.

Did you embrace it?  Take it outside?  Soldier on with a stiff upper lip?  Grit your teeth and endure it? Jump into the fray?

Holiday Family Drama? How Do You Cope?

Christy Matta, MA

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APA Reference
Matta, C. (2011). Holiday Family Drama? How Do You Cope?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 9, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 Dec 2011
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