One of things that happens when we become adults is that we realize that we have the power to change the things that we do not like about the traditions and even the dynamics of our formative years. However, since our families of origin are likely the ones that set in motion the previous traditions and family dynamics, they are that much more motivated to keep the ways of yore that the adult children have often worked hard to change in their own lives. In fact, on some level, once together, the whole family system wants to restore years of set dynamics and traditions. This happens mostly because the set relational patterns of one's family are the manner in which the family unit has always functioned, and regardless of how healthy or unhealthy the old ways may be, they are likely the only ways by which the family knows how to relate.
Being cast into the previous relational mold of one's childhood may feel quite suffocating for the adult children, who may have spent years trying to individuate themselves and find their own way in the world, a way that is less defined by their family of origin and more defined by their "true selves". While this may not be easy to attain, the trick to navigating family gatherings at this stage of development may simply be to recognize, and be confident in, the fact that the personal changes that one has attained in their own lives will not be negated or reversed by a few hours or days of reenacting the old family ways. The realization that one can take on whatever role is needed at the time without losing oneself can be a wonderfully freeing experience which can ensue a calmer, more enjoyable holiday with the ones we love.