Family feuds: navigating difficult relationships at Christmas time

With every family being different, driving home for Christmas isn't always magical

Rosie Ringer
13th December 2021
Image: Pexels
Christmas masquerades as a wholesome and uncomplicated time period in which fun is had by all the family, however, this is not necessarily true for everyone. The festive period can cause a lot of issues to resurface, including tension between separated families, issues surrounding alcohol, worries about money, and grief, to name a few.

If you’re travelling home for Christmas and feeling not-so-cheerful about it all, you aren’t alone. We see flashy gifts and smiling faces on our timelines because that is what we are privy to. Jess from your course may have posted a delicious-looking turkey next to a decanter of port, but she didn’t post a clip of the blazing row between her parents because her dad was so pie-eyed he fell down the stairs.

Guilt can be a strong emotion on Christmas day. Guilt that you’re spending time with one side of the family more than the other, or guilt that this is your first Christmas without a very important loved one, so how could you possibly enjoy yourself without them? The crucial thing here is, that this guilt is of no benefit to anyone. Guilt is perhaps the most useless of all the emotions, and whilst you shouldn’t punish yourself for feeling this way, it won’t bring your family back together or make anyone else feel better. Acknowledge it, forgive yourself, then let it go.

Christmas can be merry and bright, but it can equally be dark and isolating

I think we’re all old enough now that I don’t need to lecture you on the meaning of Christmas, dear reader, but please don’t kill yourself working all the hours God sends in order to buy expensive gifts that will be cast aside by February. Each year Christmas becomes more commercialised and extravagant, and as Kanye West once said, “My presence is a present”.

Also bear in mind that Christmas may be a difficult time for anyone who has issues with alcohol and that if someone chooses not to drink, their reason really is none of our business. We have arguably the biggest drinking culture in the world in the UK. For those who embrace it, fine. For those who choose not to, equally fine.

Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate it, and please remember you are not alone. As I have said, Christmas can be merry and bright, but it can equally be dark and isolating. I urge you to reach out to a friend if you’re feeling lonely, or if you would prefer to text, support is available from SHOUT, the 24/7 UK text service for people in crisis, on 85258. More information is available at

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