Curing Holiday Anxiety: Six Steps to Keep Your Christmas Out of the Crapper

Let’s face it. The holidays, from start to finish, are about surviving. Leave the birth of the Savior out of the discussion for now. After all, Jesus isn’t counting the number of His birthdays that have passed.

These six steps might be just what you need to keep your anxiety under control.

Step One: Focus on Relatives Leaving

The uncle who shoots turkey shrapnel by talking with his mouth full is not moving in. He will leave. You will no longer see the cranberry relish embedded in his mustache.

The cousin who has no understanding of personal space whose breath smells like roadkill is going to pull the door shut behind him.

You dearly love your grandmother but dread that moment during dinner you know is coming because you can feel the gag reflex beginning to squeeze your trachea, when she talks about her bowel movements. Grandma will fall asleep immediately after dinner and not speak again until she says “Goodbye,” and closes the door, taking her bowels with her.

You have an aunt who refuses to leave the kitchen and insists you have not added enough corn starch to the broth, so you take her advice to shut her up resulting in gravy served in cubes. Eventually, she will thank you for a lovely dinner and disappear.

When slumbering Grandpa emits a cloud of broccoli-stuffing-egg-gravy gas, remember, he will leave with your grandma.

You will finally close the door on your relatives for another year.

Step Two: Don’t Ask the Religious Relative to Say Grace

“Lord! We thank Thee that Thou dost knoweth our frame, that we are weak and lowly. Thou knowest our sins, and they are many. Lord!! We pray that Thou wouldst help Ronnie to stop his many fornications. Lord!! We asketh of Thee that Thou wouldst tell Lydia, she doth wear skirts far too short.

And finally, Lord!! We ask Thou wouldst move upon foreign fields where missionaries doth workest themselves into a lather. They preacheth Thy Holy Word! Lord!! We ask Thee that Thou wouldst bless this Thy food that Thou hast prepared through the hands of Thy servants Julia, Annabeth, Francine, Jerousha, and little Bobbette. And all God’s people said, Amen!”

As soon as he’s done, the fancy language is gone. Ask someone else to say grace.

Step Three: Be Ready for Comments About the Pie Crust

Pie crusts cause more fights at Christmas that anything else. They’re too thick, too thin, the fluted edges are not fluted right, when you take it out of the oven, the design cut into the top of the pie now looks like a phallus.

“What is that on the top of the pie?” Grandpa asks.

“It’s the Goodyear Blimp, Dad. I know you love football,” you answer.

Step Four: Stay Away from Fruitcake

Fruitcake is an ancient prank. It’s not meant to be consumed by people. In 1742, Mildred Humterhoft, of the Humterhoft clan, took all the moldy dried fruit from the bin, mixed it up in a little bit of flower and water, set it by the fire, and let it bake into a brick. The fruitbrick was intended to keep the door open on warm days.

When Mertell Humterhoft came home from the hunt, he saw the fruitbrick and immediately thought of his friend, Eicken Bintzenfrom. Mertell wrapped the fruitbrick in paper, took it to Eicken’s front door, and left it. The Bintzenfrom family ate the fruitbrick.

Now you know the legend of the fruitcake. It was originally a fruitbrick.

Step Five: Keep Everyone Busy

Do not allow guests to sit around and talk. Aunt Grielda is going to bring up something that was said at a Christmas dinner in 1957. Cousin Clem is going to remember it differently. Grandma Hershin is going to stand up, stomp her foot, say something totally unrelated, and steam off to the kitchen.

Play games. Make paper Christmas chains. Give a knitting demonstration. Teach everyone how to sing Silent Night in German. Don’t allow post-dinner talking.

Step Six: Act Tired

Inviting everyone to your house for Christmas is exhausting. Not the actual event, just the invitation is exhausting. Your mind and body immediately sense the potential for conflict trauma and kick into self-preservation mode. It takes a toll on you as the day approaches.

Make comments like, “Oh, wow, is it only four o’clock?” Or “Is anyone else as tired as I am?” Remember, however, you risk having Uncle Herschel start into a rant about processed turkey.

It’s your house. When you’re ready for everyone to go home, it’s time for them to go.

There you have it! Six Steps to Keep Your Christmas Out of the Crapper.

Joy to the World!

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