Guide to Survive the Holidays!
You know what they say, you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family. Holiday time is probably the most stressful for anyone but nothing measures even close to having all members of your family in the same relative airspace as on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
But there is a number of ways in which you can get through it short of a medically-induced coma. Here are our tips to help you survive having to spend any time with those relatives who drive you nuts.
Conspire With Someone Who Shares Your Pain
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Have a niece that just pisses you off by being anywhere near you?
Now’s your chance to get some space between you and a bit of a respite. Construct a list of tasks to pass out to each member of the family and try to match the level of difficulty to how long you want someone away from the same area code as you.
So, for example, the most annoying of the family members get the tasks that involve being away longer. Remember, although you may not really need a purple marker, knowing that the one person you dislike the most has travelled across town hunting for one should give you cause for at least a little smile.
Use Extra Bodies To Filter The Room
Just in case you sense a volatile situation brewing when her family and your family get forced into the same building for more than 15-seconds, you have a great backup plan at your fingertips. Hit your contact list and call everyone you know and invite them over for a pre-Thanksgiving drink or snack.
The idea here is that the more you water down the ratio of family members to non-family members you have a chance at survival. Plus, with more people present, the more fun you’ll have not being forced to be nice to family members you’d rather not see again.
Remove The Fuel If It Happens To Be Booze
If the wet bar tends to be the most popular stop at any of your family events and somehow it leads to well, heated discussions that don’t end until either someone draws a gun or is found bleeding in the driveway, you have to change it up a bit. Sure, hiding all the hard liquor is not going to win you a lot of friends but these crazy relatives are most likely not that friendly to you anyway. Plus, by going with a ‘dry’ bar, you save all the good stuff for you when you really need it to cope with whatever happens during the actual meal.
Understand The Science Of The Perfect Seating Arrangement
Your best bet is to carefully map out the seating arrangement in advance. For example, that perverted uncle of yours should not be seated anywhere near the 13-year old second cousin of yours. That’s just an example. Once you figure out the perfect seating plan, stick to it. Use name tags or something to clue everyone in on what is happening and if you have to, bait them with a promise of a prize of something if everyone stays in their allotted seat through to the end of dessert.
Use Topic Starters
Need to keep the conversation away from certain areas to prevent an all-out war of words?
That’s easy. On the back of each of the name tags you used on place settings to keep the seating arrangement under control you can control at least some of the conversation.
Write two or three interesting topic ideas on each card to allow everyone a chance to start a conversation with something other than an accusation or complaint. You’ll be surprised how much more fun dinner conversation can be if everyone has a little bit of input. Don’t expect to go through all of the topics but at least you’ll have a fighting chance to steer things away from those touchy ones.
Release The Children So They Don’t Become Targets
The only segment of the complete family gathering you should be more lenient on than the others is the children. We’re talking younger than teens here. There is nothing wrong with seating them all at a table designated just for ‘kids’ and once they get through most of dinner, let them go and do something else.
There is nothing worse than being forced to sit through a long, boring holiday dinner when you are 8-years old and would rather be throwing rocks at things outside. Don’t torture the children just because the adults are torturing you.
Pre-Plan Your Escape Route
Long before anyone arrives – say two weeks in advance – determine where your safe place will be. Stock it with the creature comforts you will require once you hit critical mass during the holiday. Think about your safe place whenever you get close to losing it. Focus on the way in which that safe place with a beer fridge, comfy chair, and flat screen TV is going to save your life. Once you need to retreat to it, follow the escape route you planned and you’ll be fine.
Holy Crap, Batman … You Made It!
Once the crew you hired to come in and take care of all the dirty work after the house is empty, just lock yourself in the bathroom and soak in the tub for awhile. You survived yet another holiday with family.
You Are Far From Alone On This One
If you happen to think that your family is the only one on the planet that puts the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional, you are sorely mistaken.
Sure, yours could be hovering around the top five of the all-time worse examples of DNA in existence, but you now know how to cope with them as long as you choose to stay as part of this family. If the squirrely ones happen to be in-laws, you have a bit of breathing room. However, if the troubled family members happen to come from your DNA, you may have to fine tune your plan of attack for Christmas, Easter and that annual summer camping trip. Eventually you’ll have it so well planned that once the out-of-towners get their jackets off, you’ll be on your way down the highway for your own holiday away from your family.
Don’t worry, our intention is to not blow your cover but rather give you a cover you can adapt for those special occasions when you need it most. Remember, like we said at the beginning, you can’t pick your family but you sure can pick how long you intend to be around any of them on those holidays where everyone gets a little twitchy and fired up because there’s an audience to perform in front of. Its okay, you’ve got this under control…right?
Have a Great Holiday!
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