Holiday Tips to Help You Avoid Prison
- Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Make every effort to live in peace with all men. Hebrews 12:14
The problem with the holidays is that everybody wants to get together, so you have to fight traffic and then bite your tongue once you arrive. When people call to say, "Let's get together for the holidays." Say, "You are dead to me." They'll ask you what you're talking about several times, but just keep repeating that phrase over and over again --- "You are dead to me." Eventually, they will hang-up.
However, since you've actually been a rational person most of your life, your relatives may think it was a wrong number and show up anyway. If this happens, here are some tips to help you survive and preserve their lives.
- Visitation hours. Hire a nurse to parade around the house while the in-laws are visiting. Enjoy their company. When you've had enough, give the nurse her signal. She'll approach everyone and say in that disinterested nurse-tone, "I'm sorry, visiting hours are over." They'll look perplexed, but no one argues with a bossy nurse.
- Gift Indicators. You don't want to hurt the feelings of your in-laws by telling them how much you hated the gift they gave you. So, if you want to avoid saying anything to them about their defective gifting-abilities, but still want to drop a hint about your dissatisfaction, here's a holiday idea. Get two boxes, one large and one small. Decorate them with wrapping paper if you like. Then make two signs to attach to the boxes. Write "Good Gifts" on one and "Bad Gifts" on the other. After you open their gift, look at them and say as you normally would, "Thank you so much. It's wonderful." Then toss it in the box that says, "Bad Gifts." This way you don't have to say anything to hurt their feelings, but you still give them a little hint.
- House rules. Even adults will obey your house rules as long as they understand what the rules are. Holidays are expensive and since everyone is used to spending loads of cash, a good idea when relatives and in-laws are visiting is to present them with a bill at the end of their stay. When they ask, "What's this for?" Say, "What? You think I wait on people for free?"
- Their other half. When just one in-law presents a problem, the other members of the family can always get together and have them committed to an institution, but just for the holidays, of course. Or sometimes during holiday dinners it's just the one person who says something inappropriate enough to make the dressing even soggier. Jen, 32, of the New York City area, has a might-be mother-in-law who spoke -- wishfully -- about "the grandchildren" at the holiday table, mortifying Jen and her not-yet-fiancé. Once the might-be mother-in-law realizes that Jen is mortified by the thought of children, she might say tactfully, "Whoa! Red flag! Any 32 year-old woman who is mortified by the thought of children --- can you say narcissism? Yeah, say it while you're dropping her off, Son!"
- Get away. When in-laws visit for several weeks at the holidays this is a good time to take your family vacation. "Yes, we'd love you to come to our home for the holidays --- we'll be in Florida --- so make yourselves at home."
- Middle ground. With larger families all the celebrations between October and December can become overwhelming so it's important to find ways to compromise. For instance, your in-laws may have a large Thanksgiving celebration where everyone is expected to attend. Instead of having dinner and dessert at your in-laws, you can always have Thanksgiving dinner at home and then for dessert drive past your in-laws home on the way to Dairy Queen. There are ways of finding middle ground.
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