Andinia´s staff

Don't Invite the Ham Family to Christmas (I).

By Jeffrey D. Murrah.

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Christmas, year-end holidays and family gatherings bring joys and sorrows. During the holidays, many families experience difficulty with expectations. The mention of Christmas invokes visions of Norman Rockwell paintings of happy families sitting around the table. In my family, we jokingly refer to this Rockwellian portrait as the "Ham Family."

The Ham Family is mentioned because of holiday expectations. These unspoken expectations are like mine fields. We don't know where the dangers are until we accidentally stumble across them. There are expectations of scheduling, timing, where to celebrate, where to shop and where to worship. Holidays can be even more stressful in blended families, single parent households or families with special needs.

Common problems with expectations include loyalty, boundaries, stress and communication.

Conflicts concerning loyalty occur because holidays are supposed to be family times. They are reminders of which group you belong to, and which group you no longer belong to, and which group you don't want to belong to.

Set boundaries: Some members take advantage of others in the home, or they have difficulty maintaining their own personal boundaries. This shows up in various types of addictions, where people have overextended themselves, or in situations where family members take advantage of other's kindness.

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