Dear Mary’s advice on how to keep the peace this festive season to celebrate a merry Christmas

From dealing with annoying in-laws to navigating blended families and comforting the bereaved, Life’s agony aunt dispenses her wisdom on the Yuletide problems many of us face

"To avoid unnecessary anguish, refrain from asking parents with one child if they plan on having more kids." Image: Getty

Mary O'Conor

As the Christmas season is drawing close, at this time of year I usually write some advice as to how best to get through the holidays with family and loved ones. This year, my editor asked if I could go back through all the letters I’ve received during 2023 and find some themes or issues that may be relevant at Christmastime. I was intrigued at the idea and trawled through the letters. Some were published, some, because of space reasons, were not. So here are my thoughts on a few of the more common themes that I found, and how they might pertain to Christmastime in particular.

Don’t criticise your in-laws…