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Dec 20

Home for Christmas? Guide to reconnecting with family over the Holidays

Posted on Friday 20th December 2013

Christmas is a joyful occasion for many, seeing members of your family and friends that you perhaps haven't seen for months, the nostalgic Christmas memories that come with the unpacking of the box of decorations from the loft and of course the food! It's no wonder Andy Williams referred to it as, 'The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.'

Reconnecting with long-lost friends and family members especially, make for some spectacular festive memories which will stay with us for a lifetime. And every year, millions of you use our address and telephone search tools to get in touch and make these Christmas wishes happen.

Family Christmas

Photo by: reallyboring

But of course there is another side to the festive season. For some, Christmas is a very emotionally-charged time of year, a time that brings up memories of the loved ones we've lost, years-old arguments, and resentments - and of course the pressure to spend money like it's going out of fashion. But like it or loathe it, Christmas is coming. Here then is a guide to surviving the festive season with your family.

A picture of the modern family Christmas

It’s a decades-old tradition in America for families to send Christmas cards featuring a festive-themed family portrait and a message detailing all of the major events that happened over the course of the year. However, in Britain we tend to look at this particular tradition and scoff at its pretentiousness or snigger at all of the awkward family Christmas photos that crop up online every single year.

So for a less cringe-worthy glimpse at modern family dynamics at Christmas, ComRes conducted a survey of the public's opinions of the festive season and found that:

  • 83% of people believed that Christmas is about spending time with friends and family.

  • 41% of people agreed that Christmas is about celebrating god, with 24% of people disagreeing with the sentiment entirely.

  • 40% of people thought that Christmas is just a good excuse to take some time off work and therefore feel that the holiday has no real meaning, whereas 34% of people disagreed with this statement.

  • 62% of people also believe that Christmas is a time when we should give to the less fortunate but in 2010 the same survey revealed that 13% of people said that they would borrow money in order to afford decent Christmas presents.

  • 54% of people thought that Christmas was over-rated, with 18% of people going so far as saying that they 'dread' Christmas.

Tips for making the best of your family Christmas

So, the majority of people believe that Christmas is a time for friends and family. But if you are one of those people who 'dread' Christmas, here are some tips for weathering any kind of family reunion snowstorm.

  • Limit the time you're at home - Many people think that you have to spend Christmas Eve, right the way through to the 27th December, in order celebrate Christmas the traditional way with the family. However, if you find spending that much time with your relatives a struggle, limit the amount of time you're there. By leaving when you feel like you want to, rather than staying because you feel you ought to, you may start to relax and have more fun than you would do if you felt like you were forced to stay against your will.

  • Make some plans with friends - Just because Christmas day is a time for family, it doesn't mean that you can't make some alternative plans with some nearby friends for a couple of hours. Even if you're only free for an hour or so to go for a festive walk, find your friend's phone number and get them to come along, you never know, they may be feeling as claustrophobic with their family Christmas as you are.

  • Get Involved - If you're one of those people who doesn't like Christmas because it seems to bring out the worst in your family's characters, then help out a little more to ease the stress for them. Help to cook or clean up or attempt to wrangle the kids around a Christmas film, to keep them quiet for an hour or two. Any contribution will be welcome and it will give you an excuse to keep busy.

  • Don't over-indulge in festivities - If your family tend to argue when you all have had a little too much to drink then make sure you keep sober so that you can have a proper handle on proceedings and watch out for signs of the mood turning sour. Over indulging in food as well is best avoided because when we eat too much we get lethargic and crotchety.

  • Count your blessings - Christmas is the ideal time of year to look back at everything you've achieved over the year and count your blessings. Doing something as simple as making a mental list of all the things in your life you're grateful for could be enough to carry you through times of family frustrations.

  • Give only what you can - At this time of year many of us feel the pressure to buy extravagant gifts for our nearest and dearest to show we really care. But don't be one of those people who fall into debt trying to impress the people whose job it is to love us no matter how much money we make. Instead, hand-make your presents or offer to help them by offering your time and energy to them for something in the New Year. And if you're one of those people who feel the pressure to be the perfect host, make sure you don't burn yourself out by trying to do everything perfectly or 'the way mum used to do it.' These pressures are often self-imposed and your family will be grateful with anything you do for them, so lighten up and enjoy yourself!

  • Put some music on or play a game - Sometimes spending too much time at home over Christmas can drive people a little bit 'stir crazy' and arguments can easily erupt. If you feel like the atmosphere is turning, put on some music or play a board game to lighten the mood.