You have a family. It’s Christmastime.
So for two, or possibly even three days, you’re going to be trapped with said family under one roof, pretending - for the sake of all things festive - that you actually enjoy spending time with one another. Well, that’s the plan. Deep down, you just know that someone is going to fall out with Aunt Rita before the pudding’s been served.
Of course there are going to be arguments. You’re definitely not sitting next to your 'comedian' uncle. You can’t believe your brother just said “that”. Your mother worries that she’ll never have any grandkids. Happens every year, lads. Why? Well, you’re not supposed to spend more than 24 hours with these people. That’s why you make friends out in the real world. That’s why you moved out. Alas, everyone’s in the same boat this week. So, you know, deal with it. Or, at the very least, follow our 10 steps to avoid a nuclear familial blowout this Christmas…
1) Practice your ‘delighted’ face
You are definitely going to get some ropey presents this Christmas. Thermal socks; itchy cardigans, Spongebob slippers, etc. Accept them with a smile on your face, and take it from someone whose parents once handed him a set of snow shoes on Christmas morning (it wasn’t even snowing) – complaining about gifts hurts feelings. And starts fights. Sometimes with punch-ups.
2) Watch the soaps
Because everyone knows that, if things get really, really bad, we can all take comfort in the fact that someone, somewhere in Albert Square or Carrigstown is having a much, much worse Christmas than us. Watch how everyone (including your da who never, ever tunes into the soaps) remains glued to the screen. That's 60 minutes - guaranteed - peace and quiet. Only another 15 hours to go before you can go to bed.
3) Hide the remote
After the soaps, of course. Because arguments over what to watch next will ensue, and they may get violent (a remote control over the head hurts).
4) Keep an eye on the booze intake
Boring, we know, but the more you drink, the more likely you are to blame your folks for everything that went wrong in 2014. Drink less, and you’ll go mad when the mammy starts wondering when you’ll ever bring someone home. Or get a real job (because writing lists in our Christmas PJs won’t pay the bills forever). Find a balance and go with it. And, for the love of God, eat something before you start. Jolly, tipsy drunks = good. Empty-stomach wobblers = bad.
5) Agree with everyone
“Yes, you’re right - this is the job I was doing ten years ago”. “Oh yes, rent money is an absolute waste – I am indeed foolish.” “Mmm-hmm, I have put on a few pounds lately.” If your relatives want to be a pain in the ass, let them. For some reason, Christmas brings out the obnoxious know-it-alls. Give them the reaction they’d least expect. Then, secretly plot ways to kill them in your head. It’s a lot safer that way.
6) Pretend to fall asleep
Give yourself a bonus point if you manage to do this at the dinner table. Another hour, stress-free, guaranteed.
7) Offer to make tea.
Now, no-one can ever say you didn’t help out around the kitchen. Pass around a box of Quality Street while you’re at it. Your job is done. Have yourself another beer.
8) Keep the conversation light
There is no place for politics at the Christmas dinner table. We’re family, lads - let’s just keep it simple and play a game of “D’ya remember when…”. Because nobody ever got hurt whilst reminiscing.
9) Do not play board games
Oh, no. Too risky – things will definitely get heated. Death by Monopoly is more common than shark attacks. Fact.
10) Finally, spend the holidays alone
Because you simply cannot bring yourself to devote another Christmas to that loud, noisy and opinionated ensemble of mad-hatters you call family. It’s understandable. Best avoid the lot of them, so. I mean, it’s not like they won’t be around forever or anything. No, you definitely won’t miss the madness…what’s that? These are things that actually make Christmas? Of course they are. Enjoy.