Holiday family drama is so common that it is the storyline for many movies—most of them pretty entertaining. In the movie, A Christmas Story Ralphie’s family shows us how they cope with a turkey disaster, the terrible leg lamp, and Ralphie almost shooting out his eye with his Red Ryder BB gun that he almost did not get. Kevin gets forgotten and left behind for three days in Home Alone while his family struggles to organize themselves for their holiday vacation. The Griswold family deals with annoying in-laws, unexpected guests, power outages, sewage issues, a visit from the SWAT team, and a fire in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. While these movies are funny and end well, not all of us experience such a nicely wrapped-up Hollywood ending.
My own family dealt with some holiday drama this past Christmas. Due to a prior disagreement, I was not invited to the gathering at a family member’s home though everyone else was expected to attend. I was hurt. While my family was attending that event, I decided to join a friend’s family dinner rather than sitting at home alone and upset. My friend’s family also had some holiday chaos and tension. Ultimately, at both family gatherings, someone ended up in tears on Christmas day. While there were no beautiful endings, we all survived, but feelings were left hurt and relationships left damaged.
After the holidays, family members often take with them more than the gifts from under the Christmas tree. When families find themselves dealing with hurt feelings, damaged relationships, guilt for behaviors or reactions, or shame brought up through family interactions, it may be time to seek some assistance. There is help and healing available for families who find themselves in this situation.
Whether it is the holiday season or any other time of the year, families do matter and most people want to resolve family issues they experience. Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows offers a customized workshop called Family Matters. The Family Matters workshop offers a supportive and safe environment for family members to work through issues by encouraging them to be authentic, communicate productively, utilize boundaries, and function in a constructive fashion. The Family Matters workshop helps families identify and resolve conflicts and teaches them how to develop tools and healthy strategies to manage conflicts in the future that will improve a relational family system. The ultimate goal of this workshop is to help family members bridge the gaps that have plagued the family system.
Written by Dr. Georgia Fourlas, LCSW, LISAC, CSAT-S, Clinical Director of Workshops for Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows