Here’s a scenario: You and your newlywed spouse just had a baby, but your parents were recently involved in an extremely bitter divorce. You want them both to be there, but they are not able to be in the same room together yet. Or another scenario, you and your spouse are recently unhappily divorced and your child is just getting to be old enough to remember the Christmas celebrations.

Chances are, you want to do what it takes to get the family back together for at least a day of celebration, but is it possible? The holidays are the time of year when everyone starts to warm up to the idealized version of a strongly-knit family who laughs and loves together, but the reality is that that ideal can negatively affect the reality of the situation.

The main thing to remember is that everyone knows their own boundaries. If it has been uncomfortable and/or hostile between two people every other day of the year, getting together for Christmas is not going to be any different. It may be possible to hide those emotions for a day, but the fact is that they’re still there, and at least once person is still very uncomfortable.

In order to help defuse the situation, you have to manage expectations. If there is still so much hostility, then it is worth splitting the party up into shifts so that everyone can enjoy it without any awkward confrontations. Perhaps you can look at involving everyone in the same event once things have cooled off next year.

If you are dealing with an uncomfortable situation like this in your family, hopefully these tips will help you prevent any uncomfortable situations, and have a happy holiday!