Evelyn Cusack advises: I’m spending Christmas with my boyfriend’s family for the first time and, honestly, I’m dreading it . . .
His two brothers are nice enough, and his dad doesn’t say two words, but that’s all rosy compared with his mother, who really has it in for me.
I’ve met her several times over the past two years that I’ve been seeing my guy, and every time she was quite hostile to me in little ways, such as not making any effort to talk to me and giving condescending little smiles every time I say something. I’ve also seen what they’re all like when they get together for family dinners: the mum waits on the men hand and foot, while they sit around doing nothing. I suspect she will expect me to help her out serving the guys, which I find really offensive.
I didn’t want to spend Christmas at his family’s place, but it was a compromise we reached so that we could go away for New Year together. It means spending five whole days cooped up with his family, as he lives in the middle of nowhere. His parents don’t drink, so it’s going to be even more tense as I’m going to need a few glasses of wine to ease my nerves. God only knows if I’ll be able to bite my tongue enough.
I’ve thought about talking to my boyfriend about this, but he thinks his mum and I get on famously. He keeps saying how much he’s looking forward to us all spending time together and I don’t want to disappoint him. But I’m getting a little resentful that his happiness means I have to have a miserable Christmas dinner. I’m going to miss my own family and friends so much, but I think it’s too late to change anything now. Kate
Kate, sweetheart, my advice to you is to go home to your own family and spend Christmas with your own mammy. As this will be difficult for you, may I offer the following 10 surefire excuses to give to your boyfriend's mammy that will ensure you are never invited to that hellhole again:
- Say you are pregnant with twins (probably her son's, but you're not sure), and that the weather forecast is for snow and ice (I'll back you up on that), and you don't want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere in case you go into labour.
- Declare that you are an atheist and do not celebrate Christmas, and are instead going to Tenerife to work on your all-over tan.
- Tell her that you are afraid some of your family may die (this is true, as we are all going to die sometime), and you need to spend what could be their last Christmas with them.
- Say that you have contracted some contagious disease (preferably due to her son's previously promiscuous lifestyle) and have to go into quarantine for a month.
- Confess to a little drink problem and express the fear that you won't have enough because they are all teetotal and live in the middle of nowhere.
- Suggest that since you and her son need to make love at least five times a day, you would feel too restricted in their charming little house and with so many people around.
- Apologise that you are unable to eat her cooking, as the last time you ended up in intensive care getting your stomach pumped.
- Tell her, no offence, but, even though you love her very much, you find her condescending attitude insulting and her conversation frankly boring.
- Gently hint that your parents have staff to serve dinner and that you are unused to housework and waiting on people and are afraid that you might upset her charming do-it-yourself system.
- Remind her that you are not good enough for her son, and feel that since he will never find anyone as great as her, you don't want to spoil her perfect family Christmas.
But if none of the above works and she still wants you to visit, the woman really does love her son. Buy her an expensive Hermès scarf and embrace the challenge with courage and gusto (not forgetting to secrete two cases of Chablis in the boot of your car).
Happy Christmas, Evelyn.