We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.

Randy Pausch

By Amy Offenberg on Mar 06, 2015 Families. We love them. We can't stand them. We are born into them and we create them. Families can be defined in many ways. We always wish that our families were perfect. What I have realized, is that there is no perfect family. There is no normal family. All families are imperfect to some degree. Sometimes our families actually cause us stress and anxiety.

During the holidays, we spend time with our families, however we define them. After all, the holidays are a time to bond.Yet the thought of the holiday season often fills us with stress, anxiety, dread and depression. We try to do everything and please everyone and run around like the proverbial chicken with a head cut off. Sometimes, we spend so much time trying to create the perfect holiday that we end up exhausted and unfulfilled.

Some tips for getting through the holiday:

-Be realistic about your expectations. Families grow and change over time. People relocate, get married, have children, get sick, and age. Our favorite traditions change to accommodate life and we feel sad that we need to do things differently. Create new traditions, don't grieve the loss of how things used to be.

-Say no.You can't attend every event, buy every gift, cook everyone's favorite dish, be in two states at the same time or find the perfect present for your loved one every year. It is ok. Be kind to yourself. Do your best. Don't get so caught up in what you need to do that you forget to enjoy the moment.

-Prepare yourself for conflict. Everyone has that one family member who pushes their button. Your dad always comments on how you are dressed and never in a positive way. This holiday season, know it is coming and put on your best smile as he stares at you and says, Couldn't you have put on a decent outfit for Christmas dinner?

- Acknowledge you feelings. Not everyone has to be happy or in the holiday spirit. If you are in a life transition like divorce/separation, have experienced the recent loss of a loved one or just feel sad, it is OK. It is important to let your loved ones know that you are having a difficult time this year. Sharing this eases your burden and allows others to support you.

-Set aside your differences. The holidays are not the time to address any ongoing family conflict. Agree to a truce. Define a time after the holidays to work on solving problems with loved ones.

Remember to play your hand right this holiday season. Enjoy.