It’s beginning to look a lot like ‘fuck this shit’. Oh joy, oh bliss!
You know what I’m talking about. Christmas family dinner with people you would rather stab in the eye with a fork than have to sit with and eat dinner. I feel ya.
Our family dinners were like that. Until everyone started dying off and I left the country. Honest. It happened like that.
Dealing with a dysfunctional family at Christmas
I honestly believe, in this day and age, there are way more dysfunctional families than there are ‘normal and healthy’ ones. Amirite?
I’m no stranger to this. How many of you have declared “Oh I can write a book on what it’s like being in a dysfunctional family?” Yup. I’ve said it too. And I still may do just that.
So the day of the Christmas feast is fast approaching.
You are totally dreading this day. Every ounce of you is crying and freaking out. There’s a nasty pit in your stomach that just won’t ease up. Fear not. I’m gonna help you with that right now!
I have good news for you!! Yay! There are ways to deal with a dysfunctional family at Christmas.
Let me share you with some tips so that this Christmas dinner will have you smiling and enjoying yourself, for real, not pretend.
I don’t wanna gooooo!!
Who else feels like this? And it’s not just Christmas. More and more, people are avoiding family during the holidays, any holiday, every holiday for whatever reason but the main reason is that their family is fucked up.
There were always fights at our table. Someone was always yelling about something and usually, someone was storming out of the house slamming the door behind them.
It got to the point where you literally just braced yourself before walking in the door and trying to mentally prepare yourself for whatever shitstorm was about to take place.
If that’s you, then this blog is for you. Let’s get to it…
How to deal with your dysfunctional family at Christmas
So I’ve come up with several ways to deal with your misfit peeps at Christmas and nowhere does it say “just burn the house down”. Capiche?
Prepare yourself mentally
You already know how it’s going to turn out. You already know your least favourite cousin is going to be there. You already know that 4 of the 25 people who are going to be there grind on your last nerve.
Start preparing yourself at least one week ahead of time. Self-talk and positive affirmations will go a long way here.
Try ones like:
This is temporary. It’s only once a year. I can get through this. I’m stronger and better than them (yes, you can say this and not in an egotistical way).
Remind yourself it’s only a couple of hours, one day out of 365. You’ll live.
Smile and ignore
Ya, you can most certainly do that. If there are 25 people at dinner and only 4 get on your last nerve, go hang out with the other 21. No one said you even have to talk or engage with the ones you honestly can’t stand.
Nope. You don’t have to. Thing is, they probably already know you don’t like them anyway, so your avoidance of them won’t be a surprise. Just ignore them and their ignorant remarks.
Smile and ignore. That’ll probably irritate the shit out of them even more but you know the best part of that? It’s their problem, not yours.
Keep yourself busy doing other things
Go into the kids’ room and watch movies. Go watch TV with the seniors. Go sit with your favourite Uncle and chat up a storm. Do whatever it takes to not have to interact with the people you hate in your dysfunctional family.
If you keep busy doing things that bring you joy, in no time you’ll even forget that messed up Aunt Betty is at it again driving everyone nuts.
You’ll be too busy actually enjoying your time doing things that make you happy.
Decline the invite
Now I get this is a hard one to do, but you can do it. We used to have huge family dinners at my uncle’s house until one year my dad laid down the law and said we weren’t going anymore.
It was a big blow to the whole family, but we stopped going and had a nice family dinner at home with a couple of other random family members.
After dinner, those who wanted to, would then go to my uncle’s for coffee and dessert. Sure there were a few hurt feelings in the beginning but as time went on, people totally understood dad’s reasoning (actually that’s a lie-we had no clue).
You do have a choice to say no and host a nice dinner at your house with the people from your extended dysfunctional family who you actually love and want to be with.
Don’t take things personally
Honestly, I know. Easier said than done. Trust me, I so get that.
But try to keep something in mind. If someone has a problem with you and wants to verbally attack you (like they do every holiday dinner) it’s got nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.
People often act up out of fear, their own insecurities, jealousy, and a bunch of other toxic and negative reasons. And none of it is your fault. Remember where it’s coming from.
Stand your ground
Has Uncle Henry been getting on everyone’s nerves for far too long now? Did it finally reach a breaking point?
It’s perfectly ok to stand up to Uncle Henry once and for all and tell him to shut the fuck up (ok maybe be nicer about it?). Tell him the family is tired of his bulls**t and it’s time to stop.
He’s either gonna say “well f*ck you then, he may get up and leave (ooph, that’s happened a few times in our house) or if he’s a happy drunk he may laugh and say “oh, I’m so sorry” (we can dream can’t we?).
Whatever the case may be, stand up to him. Damn, he’s been ruining dinners for years. Enough is enough!
Invite a friend to tag along
You already know there’s gonna be enough food to feed the whole fucking neighbourhood, so grab a friend and drag her/him along.
Family members tend to be on their best behaviour when there is a new body at the table. People will smile more and yell less. And this way, you aren’t stuck listening to Aunt Betty go on and on about whatever drama is going on in her life.
Or your family will still act like jerks and your friend gets to see first hand just how fucked up your family is! Oh, joy!
Change the subject quickly
Politics?? Oh, that’s a big fat HELL no!!!
If someone is talking about taboo topics (politics, religion, etc), put a stop to that nonsense right away if you know a fight will ensue.
There’s no need to ruin a good dinner with topics that escalate into arguments.
If they don’t want to or refuse to change the topic, take your plate and go eat in another room (go sit at the kids’ table..it’s awesome there!).
Take a step back
If an argument is about to start or someone just opened Pandora’s box, instead of getting involved, leave the table or the room immediately.
Super easy to do. Stand up, say ‘excuse me’ and walk away.
Then go find the kids and go play with them or watch TV or if dinner is done and dessert has been eaten already, then just leave. You’re a grown-up. You can leave when you want.
Just not before you have dessert.
Control yourself while dealing with your messed up family
You know it really is a sad thing that so many families are torn apart for so many reasons. It’s also so sad that many holidays are ruined because of this.
The most important message I can share here with you, the biggest takeaway, is to always try to find joy no matter what.
You’re definitely not gonna be able to fix everything and you can’t change people so don’t even try. The only thing you have control over is yourself and your emotions, how you deal with and handle these types of uncomfortable dealings with the dysfunctional family.
Your reaction to any and all of it will either make or break the situation. If you try some of my tips I shared with you, though I can’t promise your Christmas dinner will go off without a hitch, I can almost guarantee that it will be much more pleasing and enjoyable for you and everyone else.
Avoiding family during holidays
So while there are indeed a few who are avoiding family during holidays, not all of us can do that. But you can certainly try and make it the best, for you and your loved ones.
You can’t argue that Christmas dinner will be a million times better without all the fighting and yelling, amirite? Did you use to partake in all that too? Don’t this year. Be the bigger person and don’t engage.
Not only will you be happier but so will your blood pressure and stress level.
Wouldn’t you rather leave dinner content knowing that it all was so lovely and you have love in your heart instead of racing home in a fit of anger because Aunt Betty did it again!? Remember, you control your emotions, you get to choose.
If you have to deal with a dysfunctional family at Christmas dinner, choose peace over hate, love over anger.
Someone wanna pass down that bottle of wine, please?
xo iva xo