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How to have a harmonious Christmas Q&A

(65 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 28-Nov-16 11:53:59

While the adverts will have you believe everyone else's Christmas is harmonious and joyful with not a burnt turkey in sight, we all know that the reality can quite often be miscommunications, hurt feelings and at worst family breakdowns. So how can you avoid any unnecessary drama? If you've got a particular situation brewing that you'd like advice on, do post it on this Q&A.

The knowledgeable folk at Relate have offered to answer your queries. Add them here before midday on Monday 12 December

galexinda Sat 03-Dec-16 13:21:57

Would like to be closer to my family but our only contact is on their birthdays and at Christmas and that's me contacting them!This year I have posted Christmas cards but it will be the first year that I don't phone them on Christmas Day. No had a falling out as such but over the years have drifted further apart.

downtoearth Tue 06-Dec-16 16:37:13

Daphne My Bella says she would have just the perfect Christmas if she could have a hat like Graces and could she ask where it was purchased thank you Bella's mummy aka DTE

DaphneBroon Tue 06-Dec-16 19:44:50

You would have to knit it downtoearth and before you ask, no, I didn't!!

Jalima Tue 06-Dec-16 19:54:23


DaphneBroon Thu 08-Dec-16 08:31:59

There's clever!!
No excuse now tchsmile

Judthepud2 Thu 08-Dec-16 09:52:48

My whole family (14) will be here for Christmas apart from 1 SIL who is working. This includes 6 children: 10 - 1. My problem is that I always feel responsible for the happiness of each and every one of the family which means I run myself ragged. There is such pressure for Christmas to be 'perfect'.

This year, I can feel a couple of issues developing amongst some of my children. How can I distance myself from this and not get upset if there are disagreements?

mumofmadboys Thu 08-Dec-16 11:20:05

I do understand Jud. Our five sons will be home for Christmas. It will be the first time they are all here in our ' new' house. We moved 18 months ago. As we moved 75 miles away none of the lads have friends nearby. I am hoping they will all get on well together and it will be a happy time for us all.

ArabellaRelate Fri 16-Dec-16 16:01:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArabellaRelate Fri 16-Dec-16 16:03:53


Don't expect it to be perfect. The things you see on the adverts aren't real.

You make a very important point. All those smiling faces around a groaning table, the huge trees, the piles of presents, the sense of ‘perfect family’ – might well be something we aspire to, but not what represents OUR Christmas. Christmas, like families, come in all shapes and sizes and there is no one perfect way of doing things – despite what the adverts tell us. Do what works for you, make it your brand of happiness, and don’t get caught up in the ideal. It’s a fantasy. Spend what you can afford to spend. Eat what you enjoy. Give your friends and family the gift of your attention and your love. That’s what can make a really happy, perfect Christmas.

ArabellaRelate Fri 16-Dec-16 16:04:54


hello to all. I have my daughter in law's mother coming for christmas with us this year. this is the first year that she's come to us, because previously my son and daighter in law would alternate christmas and boxing days between us and them. in february though, she was widowed. I do feel so very sorry for her, and of course she is still suffering quite badly.

I'm dreadfully anxious of bringing up anything that might upset her, but it seems wrong to let the day pass without mentioning her husband. my question for the counsellors is, do you think a toast to him at some point of the day would be appropriate? It's silly, but I'm afraid of making her cry! it's their first christmas without him, so I'm sure they'll cry - I just never know the right things to say, i've never been very good at that (not for lack of trying)

I think a toast to your daughter’s in law’s mother’s husband, who has recently died, is a lovely and very important thing to do. I understand the sensitivity about not upsetting her further, but it will hugely comforting for her to know that he is in everyone else’s thoughts, as well as her own. Losing someone we love is so hard, and this can be made even more difficult when everyone around us thinks it is better to avoid the subject. Raise a glass, give either her or her daughter the opportunity to say a few words about her husband or father, and then don’t feel bad about carrying on with the day. The fact that he has been made welcome in spirit will give them both comfort and solace.

ArabellaRelate Fri 16-Dec-16 16:06:02


Well, I've got a question for Relate or whoever else wants to give their tuppence worth? Of my three children, one is out of the country, one is going to spend the day with his soontobe in laws and the other has invited us to stay for Christmas. The dilemma is that this means we will be far away from our own parents for Christmas and this makes me feel incredibly guilty. But I also don't want to miss seeing the grandchildren wake up on Christmas morning and share that with them?

Choosing where to spend Christmas and who to spend it with can be very difficult. However, it is important to remember that Christmas can be seen as a festive period rather than just one day. Explain to all members of your family, your son and your parents, that you would like to spend some quality time with both of them, and ask how could that best be achieved. Explain that you don’t want to short change anyone and that you want to see them all. It is always best to explain your difficult feelings as those around you will then be more likely to want to help you, rather than criticise. People can feel a bit abandoned and rejected at this time of year. It is vital that you tell everyone concerned that this is not the case. You love them all and want to spend time with that all. Make it a problem that everyone can help to solve. Rather than carrying it all, and the guilt, by yourself.

ArabellaRelate Fri 16-Dec-16 16:08:13


My issue is that two of my dils don't get on. One of them is a bit of a pain but we all try to be polite with her but the second dil takes no prisoners and can be quite...straightforward (really, she says what we'll all thinking but we try keep up appearances). Usually I wouldn't dream of doing seating plans but one year we got caught out when they sat across from each other and had an almighty row. It's tradition that we all have chrsitmas together but I'd be interested to know Relate's suggestions about dealing with two such strong personalities (the husbands are no help btw)

I think a seating plan is a great idea as it does give you some control over where everybody sits. However that is the only control that you have. Ultimately your daughters in laws are adults and need to monitor their own behaviour. I think it would be a good idea to have a conversation with your sons about what they think is the best way of avoiding conflict. Do this in the spirit of wanting everyone to have a good time, including your daughter in laws, and ask them to help with solutions. Just saying they are ‘no help’ lets them off the hook. They need to feel responsible for ensuring a happy peaceful Christmas too.

ArabellaRelate Fri 16-Dec-16 16:20:42


Forgot to add, adults eat in one room and the 4 grandchildren have a small tsble to themselves in another.

That way they could squabble to their hearts content - but oddly enough they don't! (No audience/parents?) and we get to eat out meal in a civilised manner without all the 'Daphne you must try one sprout' or 'No, Augustus, you can't have just eat the sausages' (the names have been changed to protect the guilty).

Works for us wink

'Works for us' - Maybe that should become everyone’s Christmas mantra.

ArabellaRelate Fri 16-Dec-16 16:22:26


My whole family (14) will be here for Christmas apart from 1 SIL who is working. This includes 6 children: 10 - 1. My problem is that I always feel responsible for the happiness of each and every one of the family which means I run myself ragged. There is such pressure for Christmas to be 'perfect'.

This year, I can feel a couple of issues developing amongst some of my children. How can I distance myself from this and not get upset if there are disagreements?

It can be very tough as a mum not to try to smooth everything over - to make things right. But the fact is whilst you can have influence over your own relationships with people - you have no control and influence over their relationships with each other. Even when they are your children. Intervening in their squabbles might have been easy when they were kids - but it's not easy or appropriate now. Try not to take sides. Model kind, caring and compassionate behaviour and hope they will be adult and respectful enough to behave - particularly on your territory. Don't be afraid to point out that their arguments risk ruining your Christmas. State this calmly and without judgement. It might well be enough to make them think.