Sarah Knight Explains How to Not Give a F*ck About Holiday Family Drama — Holiday Book Hacks
by sarah knight
Adapted from The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have With People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do by Sarah Knight
As families grow and relatives die off, so should some traditions. And yet, many of us seem to be locked into a Groundhog Day-style malaise when it comes to annual events and outdated rituals related to holidays, vacations, and other family gatherings. Thanksgiving might as well be re-named “Fucksgiving.” Religious holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Hanukkah are double the dogma, double the fucks. That rustic cabin your dad has rented every Labor Day since 1986? Thirty years later, it’s now so dilapidated that you might as well skip the vacation and spend the weekend with your own kids in the E.R. getting tetanus shots.
In the same way that “just because we’re related doesn’t mean I have to give a fuck about X,” just because this is how your family has always done something, doesn’t mean this is how you have to do it until the end of time. A respectful difference of opinion delivered with a little honesty and politeness — all part of my NotSorry Method — could do wonders for you here.
Or if all else fails, you need a Personal Policy.
My husband and I have such a policy with regard to Thanksgiving, and it’s served us very well. Please feel free to steal or amend it for any holiday of your choice:
We have three sets of family to see in any given year. Unlike Orphan Black, we can’t be in three places at once. AND WE DO NOT WANT TO PLAY FAVORITES. So about eight or nine years ago, we told our families that we were starting a three-year rotation, and that henceforth, we’d be doing the holiday with each group in a prescribed order, no exceptions. Nobody gets to double-up because this year Aunt Marie has a big birthday, or because the cousins got a great deal on an 8-person cruise (and they need us to make the headcount), or because somebody has a new girlfriend we need to meet. Talk to me if she’s still around next time we get to your year. I even skipped my fifteenth high-school reunion because it took place during my in-laws’ Thanksgiving year (not that I particularly gave a fuck about the reunion, but that’s beside the point).
Rigid? Sure, but nobody’s feelings get hurt, and that is truly something to be thankful for.
But hey, maybe your family just can’t be tamed. If you know that not giving a fuck about a particular holiday tradition is just completely impossible, no way, José, literally not over your mother’s dead body, then you might as well, in the act of giving that precious fuck, build in some Performance Bonuses.
For example, if you can’t avoid a family holiday get-together, schedule a massage for the day after so you have something to look forward to. Even better, request the massage as your holiday gift, so your family is essentially paying you back the fuck you gave!
(#ProTip: Upgrading to first class on the flight home is also an effective, if wildly expensive, balm for the enervating family gathering.)
There’s lots more advice where this came from! Pre-order The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck today (at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, your local indie…), and thank me next year when you’re getting that free massage.
Originally published at medium.com on December 23, 2015.