I’m so sorry friends that this pre-Easter post is ridiculously long, but I found it hysterical and wanted to pass it on to you. Enjoy!
“Fate gives us relatives for one reason: so that we have to learn how to deal with people we’d otherwise never know. Would you really choose to have in your life the wily cousin, recently paroled, who is the last remaining adult man to drive a red Pinto? On what other occasion might you sit next to a person who, without apology, spends 53 minutes describing his recent gum surgery if not for the times you see your brother-in-law? Only family members inflict this kind of emotional untidiness on one another.
One thing to remember when it comes to celebrating the holidays together: Heaven makes you family, but a new generation of selective serotonin reintake inhibitors, known as SSRIs, can make you friends.
I’d like to offer five suggestions for ways to make time with your extended family easier to manage:
1. Keep your mouth full at all times. That’s right. Stuff your cheeks like a chipmunk. The more food you shovel into your craw, the less possibility there is of saying something inflammatory. Most family flare-ups occur when the emotional kindling that’s been lying around for 20 or 30 years is lit by an incidental flick of a spontaneous incendiary remark. Because it’s impossible to say anything if your mouth is entirely filled by spiral-cut ham, green beans and onions, or tofu tempura, other than “mrmph, mrmph, phuh,” it’s far less likely that you will be the cause of the family fight that will be remembered for three generations. So what if you end up looking like January Jones in “Mad Men” when she sported a “fat suit” that made her look like an actual human being? You can eat Melba toast when you get home and risk being cranky only to your immediate household.
2. Either don’t drink at all, or drink often and early. If you’re on those SSRIs, stay away from the Manischewitz or the Shiraz. And if you’re the designated driver, do the same. But if you’re going to drink, do it in a pleasant, easygoing, non-“Jersey Shore” kind of way. Don’t drink in response — drink because you’d like to have a sip of something nice to go with your food. Don’t drink because you want to put your brother’s eye out with a fork.
3. If you want to put your brother’s eye out, stay away from the cutlery drawer. And your brother.
4. Don’t comment, even in a subtle way, on what you know to be other people’s vulnerabilities. Whether or not you believe people can see you raising your virtual eyebrows, they can. Don’t ask the cousin who’s on parole, “Isn’t it nice to wear something other than orange?” Don’t ask the mother of triplets if she’s going back to work soon because you’ve heard “it’s hard for women to re-enter corporate life if they’re away for more than six months.”
5. Remember that you will never change anybody’s mind about the following topics: politics, contraception, foreign vs. domestic automobiles, country music, global warming, cats vs. dogs, boxing, evolution, high-protein diets, texting, unions, Julia Roberts, religion, Jay Leno vs. Conan O’Brien vs. David Letterman, jeggings, public education and ghosts.
The best parts of any holiday are the serendipitous moments of laughter and connection not caught on video but recorded, indestructible, in our hearts.”
If that’s not working, there’s usually cake; remember suggestion No. 1.” – Gina Barreca, University of Conneticut