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Surviving the Winter Holidays

Getting Through Christmas with the Family

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Surviving the Winter Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time for people whose family doesn't approve of their spiritual path.

Image © Hayley Baxter/Getty Images

In some families, the holiday get-together is something we look forward to. In fact, it may be the only time you even see some members of your family. However, if you're a Pagan or Wiccan, and the rest of them aren't, there are times when the winter holidays can be a bit awkward. So what can you do to make the season's celebrations a bit more harmonious?

First of all, remember that this is a day for families to get together and enjoy themselves. It's not a day to battle about religion or anything else. If your family celebrates a Christian holiday, no matter how you feel about Christianity, don't choose this as the day to talk about how ridiculous you think the Baby Jesus story is.

Recognize that just because you celebrate the Solstice or Yule doesn't necessarily mean that your whole family wants to hear about it. If your family is uncomfortable with your choice of spiritual path, Christmas dinner at Grandma's is not the time to bring it up. While it's nice to be able to share your beliefs with people you love, if it makes them uncomfortable, drop the subject, at least for now.

Start a new tradition. If your family is willing and open, consider asking them to join you at your home for a Solstice breakfast or something similar. This way, they can see what how you celebrate, and then you can join them a few days later for Christmas.

Keep communication open. If a parent or sibling asks questions about your beliefs, answer honestly, but don't let them antagonize you. If your sister tells you you're a sinner who's going to burn in hell, step back from the discussion. Say, "You know, I'm sorry you feel this way, and I'd be happy to discuss it another time, but not today. Pass the gravy, please."

If your family says a Christian blessing before eating, don't make a scene. You're not obligated to participate, but what you could do instead is offer up a silent thanks to the gods of your own tradition.

If going to a family member's home holds unpleasant memories for you -- if you grew up in an abusive family, for example -- then take something along with you that makes you feel better. Bring along a favorite crystal, a sachet with soothing herbs, or a piece of jewelry that makes you feel grounded. When you feel yourself getting stressed out, take a few minutes to get away from everyone who's making you feel frustrated, and try to re-center yourself. Remember, you're just visiting, and you'll be going home soon.

If you're taking your spouse or partner with you, talk to them ahead of time about any concerns or fears you may have about seeing your family. Sharing these worries is healthy, plus it will allow you to present a united front.

Keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum, or don't drink at all during a holiday event. Booze tends to make us say things we normally wouldn't, and the last thing you want to do is get in a drunken shouting match with your mom just because she thinks your pentacle necklace is tacky.

Finally, understand that while people can change, they don't do it overnight. If there's a conflict about spiritual beliefs at your family's holiday dinner, wait until another time to work on it. Realize that if even your family doesn't approve of your religion, they still love you.

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