The Sunday Post (Inverness)

Military historians and profession­al peace-makers on

- By Alice Hinds

under the tree, twinkling lights and a loving family sharing a happy, relaxed day of Christmas cheer... well, two out of three’s not bad.

For many, the big day is less happy and relaxing, more fraught and stressful as sporadic skirmishes over the sprouts threaten to escalate into full-blown war before Doctor Who comes on.

So how can we swap the frontline for fesive fun?

Mediator Ewan Gillon said: “Families are systems, and systems have all sorts of rivalries, conflicts and histories within them, so when people get together, all of that comes alive,”

Professor Gillon, chartered psychologi­st and clinical director for First Psychology Scotland, said forcing families to share a space at Yuletide can expose stressline­s.

He said : “There’s an enormous potential for difficulti­es to arise, particular­ly at Christmas, when you spend quite a lot of time with your family. Often it’s a time that’s fraught with tension, anxiety and emotion in many ways.

“Christmas is held up to be a loving time, and families are often framed as a wonderful, close experience. But many people find their families incredibly difficult.”

Last week, reports of a frostiness between Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle sparked speculatio­n that even the Royals might be spending the day apart.

But, pulling rank like any good commander in chief, the Queen is said to have stepped in, and the whole family will visit Sandringha­m Estate as usual.

But not every family has a matriarch who can rally the troops, so what can be done to calm tempers in your household?

We asked experts to share how the strategies of war and tactics to win peace can help us avoid tantrums over the turkey.

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