Man and Woman Sitting on Rock Near Seashore


Family and Holidays. 

Hello, my sweet friends, 

To start, let me ask you a question. You know, sometimes, especially during the extra demands of holidays. We keep pushing ourselves on the treadmill of life extra hard. We don’t even have time to stop and prioritize our wellness because we don’t know what we need until stress takes hold of us.

So please take some time to journal, pray, breathe, and fill your cup.  

First, let’s talk about you…

This time of year, in the middle of the holiday hustle and bustle, it can be easy to forget to care for yourself. 

I want to challenge you to create something new. It’s what I like to call a self-care mindset.

Don’t allow guilt to make you believe that self-care is selfish. You can only consistently care for others when you care for yourself well. 

There are two simple questions to ask yourself as you begin to practice self-care:

  1. What do I need right now?

What are you noticing about yourself? Have you gotten tired? Have you become scattered? Do you feel overwhelmed? All those things are messages telling you a need is not being met. 

  1. What could you do to honor what you’re noticing?

What could you shift or change? Maybe you need a break. You may need some help. You may need to delete some things from your to-do list altogether.

Look at that list and ask yourself how much of it is meaningful and how much of it is just a false urgency.

Active self-care would be to say, “This isn’t worth my time, my energy, or my sanity right now.” 

Let it go.

What are you needing, and how could you honor that need?

This month, I want you to develop a self-care mindset and take care of yourself. Doing that will make it much easier to care for the people you care about.

Coach Yourself

Where am I creating a sense of false urgency this holiday season?

What are two or three things I can let go of?

How can I put self-care into practice this month?

What do I need? How can I honor those needs?


Next, let’s talk about family and friends…

While not every family has to deal with family drama during the holidays, some families do.

You’ve probably heard your friends or coworkers talk about stressful holiday trips or come back after the holidays with plenty of stories of family drama.

You may wonder how you will deal with a particular person at your family get-together this year. Or perhaps you’re nervous about your strained relationship with a relative.

Maybe you’re a parent wondering how you might deal with adult children who bicker or over-drink during the holidays.

Family get-togethers can undoubtedly be a blessing. However, plenty of families have dynamics that cause undue stress and anxiety when they get together.

For example, maybe you’re not that close to your family because you have different interests or you’ve had conflicts in the past. Yet at the holiday time, everyone gets together to share a meal.


  1. Set and Keep Firm Boundaries

One of the first things you can do is start thinking about boundaries. Those who create drama likely lack adequate boundaries, so you will have to have solid lines drawn in the sand.  That sibling that constantly interrupts and badgers everyone with their negative remarks?  You have every right to let that person know this year; that won’t be tolerated. If they cross the boundary, you let them know what the consequence will be. (Being called out, you leaving, parents requesting that they leave, etc.)

There are many ways boundaries can get crossed at family gatherings. However, you don’t have to compromise your well-being.

Another example may be boundaries around time spent with family. Decide what times and days you can pay with your extended family. Let your extended family know if you want Christmas day with your immediate family alone. You can agree to spend Christmas Eve with them. 

Do what feels suitable for you without feeling obligated to run all over to meet everyone else’s expectations.


  1. Choose Acceptance

Chances are you’re not going to get “that Uncle” to admit that his drinking is ridiculously out of hand at the annual family gathering. 

And, chances are you, and others have already addressed the issue. For family time, accepting your family members for who they are and how they act may be the best way to foster peace throughout the day.

You can’t change others. We sure do sometimes try, though, don’t we?

Arguing rarely solves anything. Giving advice when it’s not wanted rarely helps, especially if someone has been that way “forever” or alcohol is involved.

So, before you even get to the dinner table, decide that you will let others act how they want, within reason, of course. Decide that you will not take it personally or let it trigger you.

Another significant boundary is limiting alcohol or not supplying any if that person tends to over-drink. Find some other activities that involve positive interaction without alcohol. 


  1. Remain Calm

Sometimes someone else’s strong reactions can trigger you emotionally. Before you know it, you’re flying off the handle, arguing, yelling, slamming doors, or leaving pronto.

Suppose you know the chances of so-and-so creating drama somehow (because they tend to do it every year), so prepare yourself to remain calm. Likely, they are consciously or unconsciously seeking a big reaction from others.

Whether it’s them going on and on about how awful their life is, or ranting about politics, let them vent for a time frame you’re comfortable with.

Your goal? Breathe slowly and deeply.

Let the drama float past you like a warm summer breeze.

Keep telling yourself, “I’m staying calm. I’m not reacting.”

Mentally play the tape through.

If you react strongly (start yelling), what will happen? They will respond and shout even louder, and then others may join in, and so on. Before you know it, everyone is upset.

Let the drama float past you like a warm summer breeze.

Keep telling yourself, “I’m staying calm. I’m not reacting.”

Mentally play the tape through.

If you react strongly (start yelling), what will happen? They will respond and shout even louder, and then others may join in, and so on. Before you know it, everyone is upset.

So, before getting there, do your best to remain calm. This doesn’t mean you can’t address the dramatic behavior. You can try to redirect the conversation or excuse yourself from the room.

And you can do it with a sense of calmness, with firm boundaries in mind.


  1. Take Breaks

It might help you to take small breaks while you’re gathered with the family.

This could mean getting outside and enjoying the fresh air for 5 or 10 minutes. Or excuse yourself to use the restroom to gather and calm your nervous system if necessary. If there are children around, take some time and play with them.

You’d be surprised how removing yourself from that dramatic behavior can help you regulate your emotions, and it might even diffuse the situation.


  1. Stay On Your Side Of The Street

Know that it’s not your job to fix anyone else.

Whoever is causing the family drama likely deals with some emotional upheaval or faulty thought or belief patterns. Probably, they don’t even realize what they’re doing when they’re doing it.

Do your best to stay on your side of the street and take care of yourself. Try not to get overly concerned with that other person. Sure, that person may need some emotional support, but it’s not necessarily your job to be that person that day.


  1. Wear Your Unconditional Love Glasses

Often, family members have different values or systems are beliefs. Dad may be stubborn. Mom may be overly protective or go on and on about all her aches and pains hour after hour. Your brother may let his kids go crazy and wild all day long. Uncle Mike might smell bad. Aunt Jane is a negative Nelly.

It may help you deal with family drama when you wear your unconditional love glasses all day. This is a day where you can let your loved ones be who they are, exactly where they are on their life journey, without trying to change them. Without even understanding why they are the way they are.

Sure, you’d love for them to act differently. To be different.

You don’t understand why they think or act that way.

But when you wear your unconditional love glasses, you lovingly let them be.

Remind yourself that this is just one day or several hours, and you can get through it. Practice self-care throughout the day, breathe slowly and deeply, and maybe observe your family members rather than judge them.

Hopefully, they will do the same for you.


  1. Meet Them Where They Are

The reality is that there may be some challenging family members that you’ll have to contend with over the holidays.

Decide ahead of time not to take it so seriously. You might have to meet some family members where they are, even if that’s at a superficial level. You may even let some comments or negative energy roll off your back. Their words, negativity, and drama do not have to upset everyone or ruin the day.

 I also look for the good in the moment and the person. You are reframing and showing your loving kindness shine through. 

Ultimately, this may help you spend time with your family without having strong emotional or physical reactions.



      God loves you.



      God is with you.


This is called a breath prayer, a simple way to relax into God’s loving word of affirmation. This is powerful because when we whisper a breath prayer – it both physically calms our nervous systems and God’s truth refreshes our soul!

Enjoy Your Holiday Season

Life doesn’t roll the same for everyone. We may never understand why some people gravitate toward “drama.”  My theory is that they typically deal with unconscious emotional pain and learned belief and behavior patterns that aren’t serving them well.

Offer gratitude that you have a family to celebrate the holiday season with. Whether that’s one family member or 25, family matters to most people – even if there is someone who tends to drum up drama.

Enjoy your holiday season, and enjoy your family as best as possible.


Happy holiday!


Gentle Hugs,


Suzanne Nissen
Welcome, I'm Suzanne Nissen

Find peace with your past, purpose in your present and passion for your future. Clean your slate of unhealthy emotions, behaviors and thoughts and make room for Gods healing light to shine.


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