The holidays are upon us. You know the drill: Avoid religion and politics. Do NOT leave Aunts Shirley and Phyllis alone together. Shut things down before Uncle Felix gets deep into his scotch and the reasons Presidents Ford-Obama are responsible for his last three divorces. So on and so forth. Everyone gets out alive. Police involvement is minimal. Monday morning, Uncle Felix packs nine pounds of turkey cutlets into his unmarked van, disappearing from the face of the earth until next November.
But let me also suggest two alternatives:
Yes, it’s that simple. You work hard all year and this is your vacation too. If you spend it driving across the country with a car full of sneezy kids, arriving at a house stuffed with wet dogs and boozy relatives, where your niece endlessly plays One Direction songs on her brand new recorder–you have no one but yourself to blame. Don’t kid yourself: This holiday gathering will go much like the last holiday, and the one before that. If you’re good with that, then have at it. But if you need something else this year, head to Mexico. Spend the holidays drinking margaritas and eating fish tacos. Death and taxes are required. Holidays with your extended family are not.
Go, but be prepared for combat.
As much as you know trading insults with this or that relative during the Macy’s Day Parade is a complete waste of time, if you’re going to fight, you’re going to fight. Sure, you can show up determined not to argue. You might even hold your tongue perfectly well–until your ninth eggnog, when you suddenly realize THIS is the perfect moment to revisit all your childhood resentments. Although I don’t recommend fighting, if you’re going to fight, you might as well win. So plan for victory. Stay sober, or at least more sober than your adversary. Come with a packet of evidence: photos, facts, figures and articles from all major media outlets supporting your viewpoint. Prepare your opening and closing remarks. Practice them in front of a mirror. Purchase a tripod for your phone to minimize camera wobble. Initiate the argument in a room with favorable lighting (for you, at least) and record the entire proceeding. Upon viewing the next day, if you come out on top, post to all available social media outlets so as to register your victory.
About the Author: James Robbins is a licensed professional counselor, published author and co-owner of Dallas Whole Life Counseling. He has over 15 years of experience helping people in various life stages that come from a wide variety of cultural, economic and family backgrounds. Learn more about his background by clicking here.