Highlights of my December so far:
- Thinking I had plenty of time to send out holiday cards
- Feeling like the warm weather felt very un-Christmasy
- Deciding I'd send out a picture card with pre-printed labels
- Scheduling a time to put ornaments on the tree
- Trying to find an approprite pic for photo cards that could get printed in 5 days or less
- Freezing my butt off because it was now TOO cold
- Deciding to boycott Christmas cards -- aside from the economy of 40 cent stamps for sending a picture of me and some kids I borrowed, I accepted that I was too lazy to get it done
- Battled the usual tourist crowds at Rockefeller Center and thought, "OK, now I remember why I don't do this every year."
- Calculated how many scarves I can knit by Thursday morning instead of going to a mall or (heaven forbid) trying to find parking at Nassau Park (WORST PARKING LOT ON THE PLANET)
- Made two different trips to the airport and battled the crush at the baggage claim (See Rockefeller Center comment above)
- Thought about faking food poisoning on Christmas Eve to avoid family festivities
Hahahah, yeah yeah and Happy Freaking Holidays to you too! LOL. In light of that, I am posting some tips on how to make the most of dealing with relatives who have planted themselves as semi-permanent fixtures in your home over the holidays. They're sorta obvious, common-sense-ish things, but who am I to just the state of your common sense, especially when you've got some gnarly ignorant bigot making a dent on your couch and tampering with your well-manicured vacuum lines (ok maybe that's just me).
They're from Mark Bryan's "Codes of Love: How To Rethink Your Family and Remake Your Life" -- say that ten times fast. He's the one you complain to if you think they're stupid. Don't shoot the copy/paster. Well, I may add some editorial:
Research! Catch up on family news before the holidays, so you're prepared for conversation and already know what's going on in their lives. Nothing worse than asking Uncle Morty how his "special lady friend" is doing, especially if she's already kicked the bucket, and he's been on the prowl for a new canasta partner.
Cone of Silence. Stay in a hotel. I guess this tip is useful whether you're doing the visiting, or if you're the one being invaded. I do rather like the notion of having houseguests, but sneaking off to a hotel or a friend's house after dark in order to get a good night's sleep. I wouldn't recommend this, though, if you have relatives prone to shoplifting or ebaying your goods for cash.
Focus on the present. That's present, as in now, not gifts. i.e., don't dredge up the past. Don't have any preconceived notions or inflated expectations. If you go in thinking your sister-in-law will show up at the dinner table with her decollatage out on display, you just may be surprised with a chaste frumpy turtleneck. I mean, you still may get the free cantalope show, but you never know.
"I'd like to use a lifeline." Go ahead and keep a friend on standby, someone you can vent to "when meddling family members begin to overwhelm you." Great idea. I'm thinking of having a bunch of my friends and favorite people quarantined to a room with an elaborate phone switchboard, so at any given moment I can pick up a phone and be comforted by the phrase, "Toni's Mental Health Hotline, this is Ben Affleck speaking. Go ahead, Toni, talk to me."
Don't be a slacker. Make a sincere effort to help out. Nothing says party pooper like slob. (Hahah, I will highlight this item on a copy of this list that I posting on my fridge, bathroom mirror, inside shower, couch, door, etc.)
Don't force deep conversations or pry for info. Yeah, "cloak & dagger" nonsense is too heavy for the holidays. Save your drama for a less-important, less-stressful family event. Like Flag Day. Or Armed Forces Day.
Say yes. If the in-laws offer to help out, SAY YES. Don't be coy or try to play the martyr. Even if you think the offer is just a token offer, SAY YES. Frankly, I think if the offer was not sincere, I'd be even more delighted to take them up on it. (Hey, if you don't mean really mean to help out, don't open your trap!)
Baby Trump Card. Those of you with newborns, work it. Hey, I would totally do it if I were you! Make other family members work around your schedule. Heck, I'm thinking about finding a newborn and surprising the family with my "new addition" so I too can avail of this benefit. After New Year's, I'll just tell everyone I changed my mind coz it wasn't working out. I might be able to get away with this next Christmas too.
Say no. Don't let in-laws walk all over you, you are not a DOORMAT! Same goes for actual blood relatives, close friends, colleagues and the like. It is ok to say NO. If you're tired, don't accept an invite. If you're tired, don't offer to bake cookies. If you're tired, you don't have to say "Happy Holidays" back! If you're tired, SAY NO! That is probably the most important key to long life, especially when there'll be a holiday season in every year you're alive. I may get a shirt with the word NO printed on it, flash it when I don't feel like talking.
So there it is. Good luck. I really mean it, and that is my free holiday wish for you. GOOD LUCK.
You'll need it.