Christmas is often a pressure cooker of expectation and excess and as a result, it can provide the perfect storm for family arguments and fallings out. 

This year, the pressure is increased because of the limitations and perceived risks that families will be taking to spend time together.

As we begin our final preparations for Christmas, it’s prudent to remind ourselves of the most common areas of disagreement (beyond whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie) and plan how we might maintain perspective and calm during an unusual time.

Expectation:  tradition and hope set expectation about the shape of the day, the house, the tree, the lunch, the Christmas décor.  But life happens and things don’t always pan out.  This year, Coronavirus has meant that significant compromises must be made and so we must recognise that this year, things will be different.

Excess alcohol:  we all love a tipple at Christmas. The sherry whilst lunch is being cooked, the champagne toast, the wine with lunch, the after-dinner port and the evening snowball. This can lead to lowered inhibitions and often aggressiveness.  If you know that alcohol can cause you to behave aggressively, reduce your intake or stick to soft drinks.

Lack of appreciation:  in many households, the bulk of the preparations and management of the day are bestowed upon a single individual.  There may be many valid reasons for this, from their choice to do so, or work commitments limiting contributions from others and so on.  If a single individual manages your festivities, make sure that everyone says thank you and helps out where possible on Christmas day. A little appreciation will go a long way!

Long-standing disputes: during the season of goodwill we all work hard to put disputes and arguments out of our minds.  After a few days together, these things have a habit of being brought to the surface. If you do offend your family member, apologise as soon as you are made aware that you have to diffuse the situation immediately.

Without exception every year, more serious incidents occur, usually centred around domestic abuse and are often, although not always, fuelled by alcohol.  In a year where we have been consistently ‘locked down,’ it is not enough to have become accustomed to domestic abuse, regardless of whether it is physical, mental or sexual. 

This blog contains advice and helplines in Wales, including 999 for your immediate support. In the longer term, our family law team is experienced in domestic abuse matters and will be able to help you with advice and support discretely. Email law@robsols.co.uk