Blood is thicker than water*, but nothing is as thick as Cousin Steve who wants to tell you all about how psychic his dog is, if Grandma will stop talking your ear off about how much she hates your aunt’s new boyfriend. Dad has his boob apron out. There’s a toddler torturing the cat. How does one escape this circle of hell?
Invent a Christmas gathering at your partner’s place
It’s only fair that you divide your time evenly, right? No one can blame you for making a quick escape if he hasn’t seen his family for a year either. If you don’t have a partner, here’s where you need to start laying the groundwork now and start bringing up your imaginary new partner in casual conversation. (Note: You don’t need to actually go to your partner’s family dinner either – you can go home and play video games.)
Go help out peeling vegetables
Take out that pent up frustration on an innocent potato.
Check what sports games are on and be prepared to become an obsessive fan whenever awkwardness arises
Have a list of uncontroversial, apolitical conversation topics handy
- the weather (but avoid talk of climate change)
- the pros and cons of owning a swimming pool
- the best breed of dog
- whether tomatoes are fruits or vegetables
- bargain red wines and whether they have subtle berry notes
- did Jar Jar Binks ruin The Phantom Menace?
Drink… a little
Alcohol can make the pain more tolerable… but liver disease hurts more (probably), so don’t go overboard.
Play with an available pet or child
At least they don’t have strong political opinions to push down your throat (probably).
Agree with everything your Old Bigoted Relative says, but take it 20 steps further
OBR: Muslims are taking over!
You: Oh yes. Did you know that the Prime Minister is 3 small Muslims in a trench coat? I heard it from Alan Jones himself. His initials are MT, it stands for Muslim Threesome. It’s a disgrace!
(warning: this one can backfire and OBR will treat you like a soulmate)
Try your darnedest not to stay over at the place where the gathering is
If you can, make sure you have a haven to escape to at some point. And if you’re staying elsewhere, make sure you can get home by yourself, so you won’t be trapped by someone else’s sobering-up period.
Pretend you’re an anthropologist observing an alien culture
Mind over matter – if you detach yourself from the situation, it becomes far more bearable and potentially entertaining, plus it’ll be good knowledge to have when the aliens come and rescue you from your weird foster family. Take it an extra step and film it – could “my relatives are the actual worst” be the next viral sensation?
* yes, we know the origins of the phrase, and we don’t care.