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Surviving a family Christmas

How to manage your relatives and reduce your stress this Christmas.

From Sunday Life

Maybe your relatives are better suited to a stadium - not just because of their number, but because of their tendency to brawl like footballers. Maybe you have to cook for them all. Or catch a plane to the backside of nowhere. Maybe you have to buy too many presents for too many ungrateful people. How, then, are you supposed to enjoy Christmas? Is sweat enjoyable? Is stress? Is listening to your drunk uncle's mispronunciation of "mastication" for the 10th time in as many years?

Well, the first thing you can do (apart from inhale and then exhale slowly) is cut back on the non-essentials. Too many presents to get? Go online, or go without. Too many people to cook for? Ask everyone to bring something. Flying back to the middle of nowhere? Limit your stay. Cringeworthy relatives? Don't sit next to them.

And if you can't follow this advice then, with apologies in advance, I'm going to get all Oprah on you and tell you that, whether you believe it or not, you do have a choice. You can choose not to get stressed. You may think you have to do it all, but you really don't, and when you step back from your "duties", you'll be surprised at how your loved ones will step in. And if they don't, if they won't, why are you going to all this trouble, anyway? To gain their approval? Well, that's not love, honey. And it sure as heck isn't goodwill to all men.

Christmas is not about martyrdom - that's Easter, and your children's birthdays - but we'll talk about that later.