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Holidays… you look forward to them? Dread them? A little of both? Our culture hypes holidays to the extreme, demanding a lot of “happiness” and emphasizing the commercial aspects of food and gifts more than the original meanings of love and thankfulness.

Everyone has their own mix of family issues, and holidays just bring them out, so don’t think you are alone if you feel a bit off balance at this time. If you have a tradition of peacefully getting together with family and enjoying each other you are lucky, and it is a good time to appreciate your tradition. Be sure to acknowledge the people you love and who love you, knowing that it is very special and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

If, on the other hand, you have a family history of chaos, bad behavior, or traumatic events around holidays, it’s important to protect yourself. If you are mixing with relatives who are problematic, try to limit the time you spend with them.

If you need a break from your past, start some new traditions of your own, doing something that makes you feel good – some quiet time in nature or getting together with a friend.

Therapy is helpful around the holidays because you might want to talk about memories of the past that still haunt you, or wishes that are not yet fulfilled.

Most of all be kind to yourself and try not to buy into the advertising, even though it is all around you. Real life is never like the hype.