Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Iron out Those Family Fall-Outs before Big Day; It May Be Known as the Season of Goodwill but for Many Families, Christmas Means Stress, Rows and Tricky Relatives. A Relate Counsellor Shares Top Tips with Abi Jackson on How to Banish Bust-Ups This Winter

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Iron out Those Family Fall-Outs before Big Day; It May Be Known as the Season of Goodwill but for Many Families, Christmas Means Stress, Rows and Tricky Relatives. A Relate Counsellor Shares Top Tips with Abi Jackson on How to Banish Bust-Ups This Winter

Article excerpt

PICTURE that perfect scene; two siblings playing gleefully with their new toys, Dad in a chair looking on and glowing with pride, an impeccablytrained Golden Retriever lying quietly by a roaring log fire, Mum serenely gliding in and out, trays of homemade mince pies in hand...

Sound familiar? Perhaps it might if you're in the habit of browsing the 'traditional' section of greeting card shops in the run up to December 25, but the chances are it doesn't resemble anything you've experienced in real life.

That doesn't stop most of us from dreaming though, and then feeling bitterly disappointed when we don't achieve that dream.

With the pressure to spend lots of money, the rallying around to get things done and the trying to please everybody, Christmas can be stressful.

For many families, it's also a time when festering feuds reach boiling point.

"We all have this fantasy, don't we, of how Christmas is going to be?" says Christine Northam, a counsellor at Relate, the UK's leading relationship support organisation. "People get into a stew about it, often because when you 'have' to meet up with family at Christmas any resentments that have built up come to the surface."

In a perfect world, Northam says these resentments would be addressed before December 25.

"Don't do it on Christmas Day, when you've got a couple of glasses of wine inside you. Because then if it goes wrong, it goes horribly wrong," she says.

Indeed, when rows ruin Christmas, alcohol is often a big factor - whether that's because one person drinks too much and starts upsetting everybody else, or simply because it gives somebody the Dutch courage to finally snap back at that spiteful in-law or catty cousin.

If you are dreading your festivities because you're aware such trouble could be brewing or are worried a relative may be drunk and laying into everybody before the turkey's even carved, it could help to address the issue in advance.

"If [a person's] behaviour impacts on everybody else's Christmas, then I think there's a case for addressing it beforehand and going and talking to that person," suggests Northam. …

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