How to survive the holidays with extended family: opting out

By Rita Buettner

Photo by stock.xchng

Yes, Virginia, you too can make it through the holidays this year.

But if facing the family gatherings is just too much this year, La Keita Carter, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist, and Danielle LaSure-Bryant, Ed.D., a licensed clinical professional counselor, both from the Loyola Clinical Centers, suggest that you may have some options.

Consider not spending the holidays with the family you spend it with every year.

“In some families it would be disrespectful or culturally taboo,” Carter says. But in other families it might be acceptable to spend the holidays with a family member you don’t see often, your daughter’s family, or your in-laws. “Remember, it’s your holiday, too.”

Create your own holiday traditions.

Travel out of town with your partner or immediate family or invite friends to join you who don’t have family in town with them.

Go for part of a family gathering, and then go do something just with your immediate family.

You don’t have to commit to the whole day and all the family activities surrounding the meal.

Consider a way to connect without being physically present.

If family relationships are too challenging to navigate, perhaps you could Skype in to see all the family members or send photos for them to see.

If you do attend and things don’t go as well as planned, consider creating a new family ritual.

“If someone can’t be there, you might say maybe having it at my house is a hardship since I live in another state. Maybe we need to look at rotating so everyone can get there with ease,” Carter says. “Particularly with mixed families, whether they’re stepfamilies or blended families, that can be helpful in giving people permission to create their own rituals.”

Also in this series:

Preparing for the family gathering

Navigating conversation with your relatives

The College Student Edition

Grieving a Loss at the Holidays

Navigating family gift giving

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