It’s that time of year when many of us do our annual (and sometimes only) trip down memory lane lane, when we head back to our childhood home for Christmas.
In all honesty this was written before all my plans changed (as I am based in London), so I won’t be doing that this year. By for many of you in the UK, and around the world you will be (for one day at least). As I’m sitting here next to my newly erected tree and Mariah Carey “All l I want for Christmas” blasts out of my laptop, I can’t help but start to get in the Christmas mood. Then I think about reality.
The first 24 hours is great. But if you’ re not careful the frivolities can soon transform into a fraught festive nightmare. Some have to slip silently back into the closet. Other have to endure the endless questions of “when are you are going to settle down”. If you are lucky not to have any of that then there’s just the trauma of having to go back to living with the folks for a couple of days. Then of course there are the sleeping arrangements; from ‘the white company’ to ‘Paddington Bear’ duvets in one fell swoop. You might have it even tougher and have to navigate the alien rituals of the in-laws. It can be a minefield…so we are hear with our handy guide to help you navigate this potential tragedy this festive season.
1. Don’t mention politics!
Hasn’t this whole Brexit palaver caused enough discourse already? Don’t let who mum voted for, whether Labour won the argument, or the fact that great aunty Winnifred can see some sense in what Nigel Farage has to say, cause anymore conflict over Christmas dinner. Avoid all games that have the chance of including a question with a political sway. And most certainly never ever suggest after dinner debate. I love my family very, very much. I definitely do not agree with all their politics. There was a reason you moved away years ago. Trust me…avoid it at all costs.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff
You may as well have this printed on your forehead, it’s probably the one you won’t be able to achieve. When we go home and spend time with these people we all too often have short memories. We forget all those things that used to get us going as kids. Nothing will change. My bestie Lisa Williamson has a story that illustrates just how quickly it can escalate. One year she had only been home for 15 minutes before it all kicked off; her and her sister were embroiled in a blazing row over the stealing of the biggest slice of Walls Vienetta. The damage was irrecoverable, and they didn’t speak all Christmas. We are suddenly reverted to a time where our brains weren’t fully developed, and we were pretty damn unreasonable. Old habits die hard!
Try not to kick off over cheating in monopoly this year!
3. Be prepared!
The latest hashtag on twitter has had us in stiches. Probably because its all too familiar. I’m talking about #christmasbeds of course.
All over the place there are 40 year olds sleeping in cupboards, bunk beds and under washing machines. Honestly, you have to check some of these out! You may not be living in the way you are accustomed for the next few days. Be prepared. Try and see if there is space for that fluffy pillow and goose feather duvet in the back of the car. Seriously, you don’t know what put up job there might be in store for you!
4. Drink plenty of water
There is a pretty good chance that your Christmas trip is going to be alcohol fuelled. It’s going to need to be, to stand any chance of getting through this in one piece. It’s probably not going to be your normal tipple either. That snowball at Nana’s place is just all too appealing. Just don’t become that drunk uncle! The honest feedback on your Dad’s parenting skills, or evaluation of Aunt Karen’s dress sense might seem like a good idea after a few, but trust me it’s not. And neither is getting blind drunk with the fam-a-lam. Drink water and pace yourself.
5. Check out the traditions in advance.
This is for those of you that have the pleasure of visiting your other halves family this year. Information is power! You really don’t want to get caught unawares. You may never recover from the whole fiasco with your beau’s granny. so, you thought a bottle of port was a lovely present…how were you to know about the nine-step programme? Presents …that’s dodgy ground. How much do they spend? What do they expect? Research, Research, Research!
You never know what you might face. If you were coming back to my place you might get a shock when my mum bursts in in the morning shouting “wakey, wakey. She really does do that by the way. Don’t forget to give plenty of dietary warnings about allergies and food. Your new mother-in-law isn’t going to be too pleased if she has to make a mad dash to Asda on Christmas eve. 4 hours Scouring the county for bloody nut roast isn’t going to ingratiate you to the family for 2021.
6. Put your phone away and make the most of it.
It might be tempting to numb the pain by diving into twitter, Instagram and facebook…but try to avoid it. All jokes aside… of course there will be challenges. But you are hopefully there because you are spending times with loved ones. Even if some of them aren’t that loved, then at least you are spending time with someone this Christmas.
I was reading about a charity that reminded me just why I need to be grateful for what I have. ‘The Rainbow card Project’ talk about what some people go through at Christmas:
“Unfortunately, too many LGBTQ+ people face prejudice, ignorance and sometimes even outright abuse from their family, simply for being who they are. These people are often ostracised and outcast by their family, and not receiving a card on their birthday or during the holidays can be a very clear and upsetting statement of rejection, especially during these times that are supposed to be so full of love.”
Why not check out their website and donate, volunteer or find out more information. https://www.therainbowcardsproject.org/about
Merry Christmas…and good luck!
Written by David Whitfield
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