Much of the dysfunctional dynamics tolerated during the holidays are rooted in the painful memories of the past. So I go back to the place in history where I first acquired my scars. I return to the original story—for example, as a fourth grader depressed and anxious who has just learned her dad left home—and comfort that scared child as my adult self. I might say to her, “It’s not about you. His leaving has nothing to do with who you are. You are loved. You are enough.”
When I feel the similar pangs of abandonment or rejection coming on over the holidays, I address the kid as would a loving adult. Once you get good at this, you can be a friend to yourself, which comes in handy if you have no direct support in your immediate family. Talk to the pissed off third grader who was just picked last at gym, and tell him that the bullies making fun of him now will all grow up to be losers with disgusting beer guts.