DESPITE good intentions, careful planning and firm decisions, parents may still have a tough time with the holidays, especially this year. Here are some strategies for handling difficult Christmas situations at home:
* Give Santa a social conscience. If Santa will be bringing fewer or smaller presents than he has in Christmases past, you can prepare youngsters by telling them that there is less for everyone this year. Advise youngsters to make a short wish list because Santa just won't be able to deal with a long one.
* If an older child really wants an item that the family cannot afford, let him figure out ways to get it. Offer to contribute however much you would spend on his gifts toward the item and let him make up the difference.