What Mercury Retrograde 2017 Means For Family Relationships During The Holidays

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'Tis the season to be jolly — but 'tis also the season for Mercury to mess with our heads. If you weren't already aware, the last Mercury retrograde in 2017 lasts from Dec. 3 to Dec. 22, meaning we're all in for a straight 19 days of astrological panic smack dab in the middle of the holiday season. Naturally, with a lot of our compasses turning home for the holidays, many people are wondering exactly what Mercury retrograde means for family relationships during the holidays — and if there's anything they can do to prevent any unnecessary drama before it unfurls.

Mercury retrograde, incidentally, is not an actual astronomical phenomenon, but a perceived one. The deal is that the relative positions of Earth and Mercury are set in such a way during a retrograde that it looks like Mercury is moving backwards when, in fact, its orbit is the same as it ever was. But in astrology, a planet being in retrograde means that the things it rules over tend to go haywire — and Mercury is infamously the ruler of most of the things that keep our lives running smoothly. Among those things are transportation, technology, and communication, all of which can stir up some real drama if they're messed with during the holidays.

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The first issue you decidedly have to look out for? Delayed travel. A lot of offices close in the days just before Christmas, which means the roads will be clogged and airports will be packed. While you're accounting for that the same way you do every year, in 2017 you may want to brace yourself for it to be worse than usual. A family member might get stuck due to a storm, or need to get picked up from the airport at a deeply inconvenient time, or miss some of the festivities. It's bound to make the atmosphere tense, especially because odds are the shared living spaces will be more crowded with family than usual; just remember to take a deep breath and take it in stride. Everyone will get home eventually, and travel delays are nobody's fault (usually).

A decidedly bigger concern, though, is the miscommunications that might arise during the retrograde. You may find that there is something you express to a loved one that they interpret in a way entirely different than you meant. If you're estranged from a loved one, they might make unexpected contact out of the blue. You may also find that, although your family kept it together and didn't end up arguing about politics or the current state of the world during Thanksgiving, Mercury retrograde is basically prodding them to bring it up now — and everyone is bound to take it more personally than they would have otherwise. Decide before you get home what arguments, if any, you're willing to engage in — and maybe stay away from family members you know you don't agree with if you decide to get an extra glass of eggnog. If anyone is going to go to bat over something during the holidays, it should be with a clear head.  

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During this particular retrograde, be especially kind to your Gemini family members — whatever you're feeling right now astrologically, they've had it worse. There was a full moon in Gemini on Dec. 3 just as Mercury retrograde began, which only heightened whatever they were already feeling, and they're probably still recovering from it.

On that note, be especially kind in general this holiday season, and have patience when you can. Everyone's a little rattled and stressed from the effects of the retrograde and the general chaos of the pre-holiday workload — but, as always, the holidays are what you make them, whether you sat in traffic for 12 hours or not.