Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Christmas PTSD

Thank god the new year is here. This means that Christmas Day is officially over, and is not able to come back again for at least another eleven and a half months.

There are those who say that Christmas Day is all about families, belonging, and welcoming people into your home and creating a sense of togetherness. I don't think the people who say this have ever experienced a Christmas where performing these acts would be at all uncomfortable for them, or create one little bit of excess tension. They would certainly not have experienced the Nightmare of the Imploding Christmas Day.

I say that it is a lovely thing to invite people over to share your Christmas Day. But BEWARE! The success or dismal failure (and extreme discomfort of your main family and friends) can be directly related to who you choose to invite.

I can't be particularly specific on the particular horrors of my Christmas Day for fear of incriminating myself, so I will write a helpful list concerning who you should and shouldn't invite if you want to have a happy, harmonious day. I am all for people inviting anybody that they genuinely want to be there. This list pertains more specifically to the fringe-element that can get sucked into the whirling vortex of pain and death that is the Family Christmas Day.

Top People To Add To Your List:

1. Friends of the family who have nowhere else to go on the day, who you genuinely want to be there, and who are going to have a good time.

2. Distant relatives who wouldn't normally be invited, but who are also lovely people who you care about, and who are going to enjoy the company.

3. Random neighbours who fit the above criteria, and who are a good fit for the party. (See, I'm not that picky!)

Slightly Less Fantastic People To Add To Your List:

1. Distant relatives who you don't really know, who have never really made the effort to get to know you, are a token invite due to their proximity but are likely to show up anyway for the free food and booze. These could go either way - they are likely to know people at your party better than they know you, particularly if it is a big family get-together, and you might get to know them well and find they are a good time.

Or it might end in dog bites, barbeque burns and calls to the police. You just never know.

2. Distant cousins with slightly shady pasts who are getting back on track with their lives. They are family. One of the things that Christmas is supposed to be about is family. They could enjoy catching up with people, making new acquaintances and having a chance to socialise.

Or they could steal all of the booze, take the gift certificates from the present piles when nobody is looking and scrape a whole row of cars on their way out. They may even kick the dog.

Hopefully they won't trip on the dog. They might sue.

3. Serial whiners. Miserable relatives who spend all day whining will bounce off these people, sending other revelers around them into spirals of doom and gloom, killing the Spirit of Christmas, making fairies die by the score, and allowing the grinch to be one happy little critter. Sit them with the right people and it might work. You never know.

4. Anybody you feel obliged to invite out of guilt.

The No Go Zone:

1. The boyfriend of a distant cousin who has just spent time in jail and spent the last Christmas gathering at your place telling disgusting stories about close family members of yours, while they are in the next room, and while sitting next to your 86-year-old grandmother. He used up his first chance, and inviting him again would be like positive reinforcement. Particularly if he starts inviting friends or family of his own.

Work out some way of not inviting them the next year. Spend the months you now have up your sleeve thinking of a good way to let them know they are not on the list, otherwise you might end up finding yourself fantasizing about changing the date or location of your party. You may even find yourself looking up the real estate section of the newpaper, considering a Christmas Eve house move.

2. Anybody who thinks it is funny to make another Christmas Day guest cry. On Christmas Day. In the year that their husband/son/dog died.

Seriously. Don't. Invite. Them. Back.

3. Relatives who think it is okay to tell you that you somehow kept them out of your dying father's inheritance, while he was dying, and then still expect to be invited to every function that you put on. This also applies to weddings, baptisms, birthday parties, random coffee meetings, and any other event put on by you.

Several of the above may or may not have happened on my Christmas Day. If the guest list next year looks the same as this year, I am going to spend Christmas Day on a beach in the middle of nowhere where nobody can reach me, with a bottle of champagne, a very full i-Pod and a swarm of annoying but friendly and harmonious mosquitoes trying to dive-bomb me through the thick canvas of my tent.

Hopefully this year I'll learn about some little-known random maladie that I can diagnose myself with after getting the Christmas list of invitees. It would have to be highly contagious, so horrible that nobody else would want to get it, yet resolve spontaneously with no apparent ill-effects by New Years Day. Ideas? ;)

Happy New Year!


bradsmith281 said...

Brilliant post; great reading!

I get the feeling that some of those "tips" were real life experiences of yours over the Christmas period, and for that you have my sympathy! The keying of cars and kicking of beloved dog as petulant relatives leave sounds particularly like a nightmare.

Happy new year!

Milk and Two Sugars said...

You poor, poor thing. I hope you and your husband retired to bed peacefully at the end of it all.

And at any event where food is involved, "gastro" is the bestest word in the whole world. "Viral gastroenteritis that I picked up a the hospital" would lend it credibility.

In my family, we segregate into smaller gatherings - otherwise our Christmas day would look very much like yours. :)

The Girl said...

My new plan for next year:

a) Send my mother a book entitled, "How to say no"; and

b) Be overseas for Christmas Day.