Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of the year for some. With pressures to host the perfect celebration, cook the perfect Christmas dinner, and socialise with family members. So it’s not uncommon that tension may rise, resulting in petty arguments.
To ease the tension of the day, life insurance broker, Reassured has spoken to a family relationship counsellor, Janice Williams, to offer tips to help cope with some of the most common Christmas Day family arguments:
Before the game starts, ensure that each person understands the rules of the game. Some board games, such as Monopoly, have two different rules: one for the longer game and one for the shorter game. If rules are not clear, disagreements occur. Also, discourage negative talk, which can escalate into arguments.
Have short breaks to cool down and loosen tension. Consider the age and level of skill of each family member and pick games appropriate for the age group to minimise frustration. If you know that certain games lead to aggravation, it might be best to avoid them altogether. Remind everyone that the goal of the game is to have fun and spend quality time together.
Deciding what to watch on TV
Arguments arise in families when each person wants to see a show that some other members may not be interested in. To avoid this escalating, have each family member suggest a few options, and then take a vote. This way, everyone gets a say in what to watch. Keep in mind the ages and preferences of the family members. Choose something that is appropriate and enjoyable for everyone. It may mean that the kids and adults watch a show in separate rooms.
If your family has different tastes, make a list of movies or shows beforehand and let family members choose from that list. This can help the decision-making process. Scroll through the Christmas list of your streaming services; they often have a wide variety of options.
After watching a movie or show, take some time to discuss what everyone liked or didn’t like about it. This can be a great way to bond and learn more about each other.
What time to get up in the morning
Consider family traditions or routines that you follow on Christmas morning. If you typically open gifts early or have a special breakfast, plan your wake-up time accordingly.
If you’re celebrating with family or friends, communicate with them about the preferred wake-up time.
What time to open presents
Create a special tradition for opening presents. In some communities, presents are opened the night before Christmas Day or consider a specific time to unwrap gifts, such as early morning or after breakfast. If you are expecting a visit from the grandparents, hold on to one gift so that your child can unwrap in the presence of their grandparents.
I often recommend that individuals create a script when they anticipate a hot topic that regularly arises at family gatherings. Take the time to write it down and commit it to memory. While you may not recall it verbatim, having a reference can be invaluable when dealing with a challenging family member. It may be a response to that relative, or it may be choosing to take time out and go for a walk.
Remember: Be your own best friend. Be kind to yourself as a friend would be to you and as you would to your friend. Draw up boundaries around yourself in this “silly season” to protect, nurture, and care for yourself.