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The ABC's of Dealing with Family During the Holidays

by Dr. Sarah Vinson /
Image: Lasaundra Dudley, Belvin Baldwin, Buckley Vincent
Lasaundra Dudley, of Atlanta, right, embraces her father Belvin Baldwin after he arrived off a bus from Savannah, Ga., to spend Thanksgiving with her and his grandson Vincent Buckley, left, at a Greyhound station Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Atlanta. An estimated 46.9 million Americans are expected to take a car, plane, bus or train at least 50 miles from home over the long holiday weekend, according to the motoring organization AAA. That would be an increase of more than 300,000 people over last year, and the most travelers since 2007. (AP Photo/David Goldman)David Goldman / AP

Let's face it, Thanksgiving is supposed to be a wonderful time with family, but it doesn't always go as planned. While the turkey may be delicious, potential family drama is always looming.

What about the cousin who owes you money, or the sarcastic brother who is never quiet? Or, how about the loud obnoxious uncle or the over bearing mother? Are you mentally prepared to deal with your family this holiday season?

Social media users are definitely anticipating all of the things that come along with holidays with funny tweets and the hashtag #thanksgivingwithblackfamilies.

But on a more serious note, Dr. Sarah Vinson, a licensed adolescent and adult psychiatrist, says there are steps you take can to mentally ensure a stress free visit. Dr. Vinson has written the ABC's of Dealing with your Family During the Holidays.

A – Accept your family for who they are. The old saying is true - you do not choose your family. If you are choosing to spend the holidays with them though, they must have some redeeming virtues. Human behavior is stubborn as are relationship patterns, so it is more likely than not that whatever grating quirks or habits family members had last year have not disappeared. Acceptance allows you to spend more of your mental energy and time enjoying your loved ones rather than frustrating yourself trying to change them.

B – Budget now. Money is a constant stressor for families, and with travel, big meals, and gifts, the holidays can intensify money-associated stress. Knowing what you have to work with and planning accordingly can help set realistic family expectations and take off some of the pressure. Planning ahead also can give you time to shop around for lodging options if you’re traveling and not staying with family.

C – Celebrate conscientiously. Parties, vacation days and more people on the road combine to increase the risk of legal, or potentially worse, consequences from impaired driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during major holiday periods 40 percent of vehicle crash fatalities involve a drunk driver and in the Christmas/New Year’s Eve season, an average of 304 people die in drunk driving crashes. If a designated driver was not decided upon before the festivities, the use of car-sharing services provides a back-up for safe travels home. (Just be sure your phone is charged, so you can use the app.!)