KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A family and parenting specialist with the University of Tennessee Extension suggests it's OK to avoid holiday gatherings where family squabbles are likely.

Dr. Denise Brandon said it sounds cruel but people should not feel obligated to spend time with others who are likely to be unpleasant.

She said if uncomfortable moments are expected, consider having the gathering in a public place where behavior tends to be more restrained. And separate people who tend to argue.

Brandon also recommends that people drop expectations that things will go perfectly, and concentrate on spending time with people you really care about.

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