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Thanksgiving travelers brace for stress, potential conflict with family members

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Being with family on Thanksgiving is a special thing, but dinner table debates can make it a stressful proposition too.

Jerolynn Bell-Scaggs, the founder and owner of Shorewood’s Family Healing and Wellness Center, says emotions often come to the surface during family gatherings.

“It can feel very overwhelming and it can also bring about some anxiety,” she said.

Bell-Scaggs says topics like religion or politics don’t help.

Travelers coming into General Mitchell Airport Wednesday were ready for whatever family might throw at them.

“I love the chaos,” said Joni Van Leer, an active duty military member stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. “I’ve been away from home about a year and a half. We’re ready to debate.”

She surprised her kids at home, and is spending the holiday with her husband and in-laws.

Tom Stone was coming home to Madison from graduate school on the east coast.

He says his family isn’t afraid to bring up sensitive issues.

“It becomes an involved discussion, but no hurt feelings,” he said.

Bell-Scaggs says feelings should be respected.

It’s best to set healthy boundaries and enforce them.

“Anything that you’re uncomfortable with, speak up, advocate for yourself and say, ‘This isn’t something I want to talk about right now,’” Bell-Scaggs said.

Bell-Scaggs says forgiveness is as much for you as for the person you’re forgiving.

She recommends it as a way to avoid developing negative feelings that can last for long periods of time.

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