How to Avoid Fighting on Christmas

Опубликовал Admin
22-10-2016, 06:25
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Christmas time is about harmony, peace and love. However, sometimes tensions take hold and family rifts or feuds take center stage. Rather than spoiling your Christmas experience, learn ways to avoid fighting so that your celebration is truly focused on the meaning of Christmas instead of bickering and feuding.


  1. Identify your own triggers in advance. You know yourself better than anyone; you also know which family members have the ability to set you off. Often it's a case of like versus like, in which you choose to pick on the other person because they personify something you don't like about yourself. This is unhelpful and certainly only serves to make the other person feel defensive. If you know what sets you off, you can remind yourself that it's your feelings getting worked up and that you have control over how to respond.
    • Remind yourself that you don't have to prove anything. Pride inside the family den can be bad for family relations. If cousin George has a bigger car than yours, so what. If Aunt Betty wants to cook the Brussels sprouts her way, then don't interfere. There are a lot of things you can let slide without having to make a fuss over it.
    • Quit being stubborn. What is the point of haranguing a family member on the same point over and over again? Just what are you trying to prove? And if you do manage to prove anything, just what does that solve?
    • Identify a "warning word" with your spouse. As soon as your spouse thinks you're drifting into dangerous territory, they casually work the warning word into the conversation. This will let you know that you've gone too far and should start backing off if at all possible.
  2. Take it all in stride. Christmas involves seeing a lot of people you ordinarily avoid, or at least appreciate not seeing much. Begin by accepting that you don't see these people very often, so stay calm and restrained when you do; it's only for a few hours, or a few days. When they make remarks that rile you, let them pass and don't give them the attention the person is seeking. Be "zen" about things.
    • Ignore hypocritical remarks about yourself, your family members, your gifts, your home, etc. Realize that such comments usually say more about the the person saying them than about the intended target.
    • Find ways to relax during the holidays. It can be a stressful time for even the most efficient and unflappable, so don't get down on yourself if you happen to be worked up. Exercise, go to performances or take part in entertainment, and find a little time for yourself.
    • Practice the art of detachment. Sure, nasty things are being said but why give those things credence by believing or accepting them? Stay detached, meaning that you can remain considerate of the thoughtless person without trying to rescue, trump or oust them. Instead, you just let them be, and let their own issues show them up for the person they are. They are probably trying to get a rise from you.
  3. Remain pleasant even if this means gritting your teeth. This is of especial importance if it's your home and you're the host. The duty of the host is to ensure that everyone is comfortable and having a good time, not nurture sparring matches. Think about the purpose of the day and the importance of maintaining harmony for everyone present.
    • Avoid getting involved in gossip or picking on anybody. Even if this is a family tradition, it soon devolves into nasty words and becomes contagious, taking in the people around the table as well. If someone does try to gossip, cut it off quickly and politely.
    • Don't fight fire with fire. If someone is hankering for a fight, it's best not to give them the satisfaction of getting angry, flustered, or offended. If fighting is what they want, give them unmitigated politeness. This will make it useless for them to continue seeking trouble.
  4. Be polite and then move away. If you know that things will only degenerate into a fight, say a few nice greetings and then stay away from this particular relative. This may include sitting away from them, buffering yourself by sticking to other people and blocking your ears whenever any rude comments are deliberately made too loudly. Simply keep your distance all day but be polite at any stage of an encounter.
    • Stay busy. Even if you're not the host, you can offer to do things all day in order to flit in and out of conversations. Pour the bubbly, keep an eye on the roast chicken, care for the little kids, etc. As well as getting you out of everyone's hair, you'll be appreciated for being the "helpful one".
    • If the person in question consistently ruins the family engagement, consider offering them a warning about their behavior. Tell them that if they cause any trouble, say nasty things, etc., that they'll be asked to leave and won't be invited again. It's tough love, but it's still love.
    • Avoid competitive games or any other artificial excuses for tensions to bubble up to the surface. It's fun playing Monopoly or Apples to Apples, but the competitive spirit can take hold and ruin the atmosphere. Don't play unless you're sure that everyone will be able to survive the game with high spirits.
  5. Emphasize all the things your family has to be grateful for. While it may seem a little Pollyanna-ish, it is important to remind everyone about the importance of your family ties and the things that are good about your family. If you want to, take turns selecting one good thing to say about every single person at the table.
    • Give lots of hugs. Hugs have healing power and can help to lighten up even the angry soul.
    • Greet everyone effusively upon first meeting them. A loving and inclusive greeting can do a lot to set off relations in the right direction for the rest of the day, especially for relatives you haven't seen for a while.
    • Do the unexpected. Help someone out with supper; calm the kids down when they're antsy; take the dog out for a walk. The holidays are about doing something extra for people you care about. That kind of effort is infectious.
  6. Be tough on alcohol consumption. If you're the host, keep alcohol to the bare minimum so that it can't be an excuse for antagonistic behavior. Remind all-comers of their responsibility to not drink and drive and to be considerate of everyone else by not becoming drunk. The same goes for yourself; refrain from drinking.
  7. Be understanding and compassionate instead of angry and "right". Christmas time can be a very hard time of year for some people. If family members have lost a job or loved one, experienced financial or emotional hardships during the year, or are suffering from an illness or depression, Christmas time tends to be hard on them.
    • Since everything stops and it's about "making merry" and giving gifts, it can often serve as a time of reflection for such family members, who worry about their losses, lack of money, sadness, etc. while everyone else seems so well off. Instead of winding them up, try to engage them in conversation about their year and commiserate with them over their hardships.
    • Respect them, even if they don't respect you. You don't have to love them or like them, but you should make an effort to respect them. What this means is accepting that they have a different opinion than yours, and that they are entitled to it, however nasty or curious they act. It will make you a stronger person.
  8. Take a breather. If you feel like it's all too much, take time out. When one side of the family starts ganging up in what they feel is a good-natured session of teasing, simply excuse yourself and dash off to another room for a break. You can have a cry, write furiously on your Facebook page or simply do some deep breathing.
    • If you're visiting, make your visit short and sweet. Leaving everyone wondering is better than leaving no stone unturned.
    • Socialize with the people that you do get along with. Just because there's someone you don't get along with doesn't mean you have to quarantine yourself from the whole group. Eat, drink, and be merry with the people you love.
    • Remind yourself of how good you have it. Take a breather by reminding yourself of how much you actually have: Friends, family, opportunities. It's a quick mental exercise that will leave you feeling relieved and non-confrontational.
  9. Prepare yourself to enjoy the festivities. If you go into Christmas thinking it'll be a fight-fest, you've already primed yourself for the worst. Instead, be determined to enjoy yourself regardless of other people's miserable or nasty attitudes and their negativity can slide right off you.


  • Some fighting occurs because an unfair proportion of Christmas preparations falls to some and not to others. Be sure to pitch in and do your fair share of preparing for and cleaning up after Christmas Day.
  • Take photos of the most riled up family members when they're at their worst. Do it covertly though or they may throw your camera. When they've calmed down somewhat, gently ask them if they really knew they looked like that when they get angry.
  • Set the scene in advance by sending out cheery Christmas cards or e-greetings to everyone coming. Let them know that you mean business about enjoying Christmas.
  • If you're easily aggravated when you're a witness to arguing, see if you can get someone else to host Christmas dinner. That way, if all else fails, you can slip out quietly. If you choose to have the gathering in your home, you lose this advantage.


  • Be aware that in some dysfunctional families, refusing to rise to provocation and remaining calm may make a codependent or alcoholic even angrier than they would've been if you'd argued. Relationships sometimes break on this point. You can control what you do and how you behave, you can't control how they do - and with effort, serenity and self knowledge, you can refuse to let them control you.
  • If you come out of it depressed for weeks, sort through all the triggers they stepped on and defuse the mind games. Once understood they don't have the same power over you. It's hard to notice many mind games when they're in progress, judge this by how you feel after they're gone and how hard it is to get back to your own attitudes and your own rhythm of life. Take care of yourself emotionally, if possible take a time out while it's going on. Reality checks from uninvolved friends without mentioning names can help in sorting out those conversations where the unacceptable became acceptable on the basis of mind games.
  • Families know best how to push buttons. Sometimes silence, and continued silence at that, is the only best reply.
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