12 days of Christmas
On the second day of Christmas The RiotACT gave to me – the second part in its comprehensive guide to dealing with Christmas in the Territory.
Christmas with the family and in-laws – a survival guide
Single, coupled, tripled, blended, bended; no matter what kind of funky formation your family ties make, chances are you’re torn in a zillion directions about what’s doing on the big day. Christmas Day. Errgh. Naturally that dreaded religion topic always slowly creeps its tension tentacles into conversation turning the mildest mannered folks into mouth-frothing rage monkeys.
Fear not! The RiotACT has a few suggestions on how to keep mellow, motivated and help ensure you have the truly fabulous day you and yours deserve.
At all times regardless of who is right or wrong, be humble. Take a deep breath and acknowledge you have the power to walk away from tough conversations. Be mindful Christmas is supposed be joyful and a celebration!
This should need little to no explanation. If tensions are high, pace your alcohol consumption and keep it to a minimum. There is nothing that will ignite a conversational fire more quickly than a nip too many of whisky before you find yourself surrounded by a napalm explosion. Allegedly water was turned into wine, but maybe just leave the alchemy to Jesus and have plain old water.
Unless respectful and productive conversation can be had where even if you disagree both sides remain calm and everyone is kindly listened to, avoid it or change the subject. No one needs a side of Islamophobia or casual racism with their Christmas pudding. See changing the subject directly below.
Change the subject
After a big meal and a few bevvies, tensions can rise and accusatory statements can be made. Play the blank stare game. Rather than bite at the relatives’ jib, be calmer and smarter and instead of answering the heavily baited question, make a random statement question. “Mum / Dad / Sister / Auntie / Brother / Uncle / Dad / Friend … Did you use organic nutmeg and elderflower in the gravy for the turkey? Goodness it was tasty! Where did you get the recipe? The art of distraction might be the best gift you give your whole family this festive season.
A family that plays together, stays together
A great way to interrupt toxic family patterns is to whip out a deck of cards, a bat, ball, kiddy pool for a back yard dip or maybe just a relaxing DVD. It’s pretty hard to fight if you have a joint focus of fun.
*Please note – never play Monopoly, we all have that one family member who has the suppressed desire of being a real estate mogul and after not passing go a few times will flip the board and accuse everyone of cheating.
Tea and sympathy – Try and understand the other person’s point of view
Look, no matter the hardships you have faced with your family, they can be resolved if both parties attempt to remain calm. This might mean you have to be the bigger person. As Desmond Tutu famously said, “Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument”.
Pack a spare
Bring an extra present for those unexpected guests. Even if you don’t like them, nothing is tastier than the look on their face when you drop a packet of Cadburys favourites into their unexpected and non-reciprocal hands. It is also a good one to pull out if you run out of food (said no one ever) or need to change the subject.
Have an exit strategy
If all else fails … have a very cool, calm and collected exit strategy planned. This might even include a fictional dinner you must attend with another family member. Just make sure this fictional dinner guest is not another close family member or they might accidentally and unintentionally rat you out!
Regardless of what your gripes and hang ups are, your parents / in-laws did something very right. They created and gave life to you or your partner or someone you care for very much. So always try and remember that. You’re pretty darned awesome, right?
If you have any survival tips, we would love to hear what they are!
Next up in the RiotACT’s comprehensive guide on dealing with Christmas in the territory is: Day 3 – Believe it or not – how to deal with the dreaded Santa Claus question
You might also like to check out Day 1 – Work Christmas parties – No you can’t touch that colleague’s butt