HERE ARE MY FIVE HACKS TO MAKE THE FESTIVE SEASON (ALMOST) BEARABLE. YOU CAN THANK ME LATER.
1: HAVE (NOT SO) GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Why not set yourself some realistic (achievable) Yuletide goals? Here are some suggestions:
i: Limit yourself to just one argument on Christmas day. Your row could be about anything: Brexit, doing the washing up or even who’s better, Ant or Dec, it really doesn’t matter. Expect the argument, enjoy it and move on.
ii: Don’t get After Eight angry. Some people will always put empty sleeves back into the box of mints, life’s like that. Don’t get annoyed, simply tip the empty wrappers down the back of the couch and make a mental note to fashion a voodoo doll of the culprit as soon as you can in the new year.
iii: Create a game that reflects the (less than perfect) realities of life in your family. Turn the negatives of Christmas into a positive by inventing a game that nobody but your family could play. Perhaps a festive cousin of Buckeroo – where you try to hang baubles from your (loudly snoring) grandma’s whiskers without waking her up?
2: DEVELOP A COUGH
If you’ve got the in-laws coming over, take my advice and greet them at your front-door with a coughing fit. Planting the seed that you might be (a little) unwell will leave you with the perfect (and plausible) excuse to bail if things get intense. Going to bed ‘sick’, when your house is full of rowing relatives, becomes a shortcut to the perfect solitary Christmas – with time to gorge on Quality Street and avoid the inevitable post-pudding rant about ‘how the country has gone to the dogs’.
NB: This hack comes with a warning. Don’t appear too sick – otherwise you’ll be denied access to alcohol or (even worse) sent to visit the out of hours doctor.
3: HIDE THE REMOTE CONTROL
The lights go out, a match is struck and the Christmas pudding you spent hours crafting (with more than a little sweat and blood) bursts into a life with a halo of blue flame. There’s an intake of breath as you parade it into the room towards your guests and then a little voice says:
“This is lovely, but I must nip into the lounge, Coronation Street is on.”
The moment has gone, your hard work turns to dust and the strains of the nation’s favourite trumpet solo bring your long planned meal to an abrupt end.
What to watch on the TV and when to turn the gogglebox on are a perennial source of arguments over the festive period.
So, why not hide the remote?
Telling your beloved family members (who will happily put communing with fictional characters above the needs of real people who’ve just spent an arm and a leg hosting them) that unfortunately they can’t watch their beloved soap because the remote control has gone for a Burton will be one of the most gratifying conversations you’ll have over the festive period. It’s fun to watch grown adults sulk.
4: REGIFT, REGIFT AND REGIFT AGAIN…
Received a rubbish present from someone who really should know you better?
We’re all far too polite with presents, that’s my view at least. We say: “Oh, that’s lovely!” and wonder if there’s any space in that drawer.
This year, why not face facts – you’re never going to use that novelty nasal hair trimmer with deluxe egg whisk attachment – so why not pass on the misery to someone else?
There is no shame in regifting. At the end of the day, a present is supposed to be an encapsulation of a relationship. It’s a physical manifestation of a friendship bond – so if someone, who’s supposed to know you well, gives you some old tat, it’s your duty to get rid (as well as rethink the friendship).
Many advise that regifters should keep a careful note of who bought what in order to ensure you don’t regift to the person who bought the item in the first place.
Regifting a below par item to the person who gave it to you is the ideal route to take. It’s an Innovations catalogue-shaped wake-up call that they need to put some work in on your friendship.
5: THINK OF JANUARY…
“Oh I wish it could be Christmas every day…” sang Wizzard, back in the 70’s.
This bizarre notion has never been a wish of mine. If I came face to face with the genie of the lamp, a request for a Groundhog Day-like existence, based around December the 25th, would be the very last thing on my mind.
My final hack is to remember that Wizzard’s perverse request never came true. It isn’t Christmas every day. Christmas, like everything else, passes.
So if the festive season is getting you down, think of January. Why? Well, whoever is getting on your nerves during the festive season, will, very shortly be going through hell with their new gym membership and attempts at a fitness regime. They’ll be drinking nothing but kale smoothies and detoxing like it’s going out of fashion. Yes, January is nature’s revenge upon those who make Christmas an ordeal for the rest of us!
Chris McGuire, The Out Of Depth Dad