***Warning: Not everything in this post should be taken seriously. There may be some jokes and, if you are easily offended, you should consider whether to read it or not***
Christmas is a minefield for those of us with families who have completely different political opinions. I’m guessing that’s true for any part of the world: there will always be a difference of opinion that makes a gathering tense, as we watch either side size up against the other. It’s also true for any other deeply help opinion, so if the only thing your family ever argue about is West Wing vs House of Cards, or Little Mix vs Take That, these hints and tricks wil help as well.
We all want our homes to be peaceful during the Holiday season. Magazines and many films feed into the idea that, for a few days at least, we can gather round the piano singing Silent Night, sit watching the snow fall in silence, sipping hot cocoa and share moments of joy as we spend time with those we know and love. But (and increasingly in films we get to see this) family politics is a minefield only comparable to those Princess Diana was so skilled at standing in and drawing attention to, as a means of pointing out man’s inhumanity to man. One false word, one misplaced remark and the family can be off on a tirade against politics, wealth, laziness or Aunt Ida’s feckless husband who wouldn’t know work if it jumped up and bit him on the bum every day for a week.
Not good. It’s not conducive to a calm, happy, secure atmosphere which we, as fans of hygge, seek to create and enjoy.
Here, then, is my list of actions worth considering to keep the peace over Christmas.
- Separate according to the greatest chance of a big argument. I usually say separate by age, but this year I’d set up four areas if you’re in the UK: For Brexit; Against Brexit; Identity Politicians who get Easily Offended; and Don’t Give A Damnarians. Have a TV in each area, comfy seating, bar snacks and drinks easily accessible and work on the principle that divide and rule works just as well nowadays as it did in Roman times. Just keep intergroup communication to a limited window like mealtimes and encourage polite conversation then.
- Ban the TV and don’t replace with another activity likely to allow for argument. This year is not a good time to introduce your family to Risk, for example, or Monopoly (especially if your family split is politically left-right). Cluedo might possibly work, but you may need to go for a cooperative game like Pandemic instead.
- If you must have TV, carefully edit your watching. Disconnect your subscription box for the period of time you need to, and claim it’s broken. Have a pile of DVDs designed to foster intergroup harmony. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, perhaps, will reignite nostalgia in anyone over the age of 11, while The Snowman is perennial family viewing designed not to offend. For this year at least The Great Escape and The Sound of Music may not be the best choices.
- If space is limited and the different groups will have to mix together, then handling what they say will be important. Make them sign a contract agreeing to no inflammatory discussion in the house. You could make this into a competition, with a chart on display and put a star or circle in a table next to their name. The loser is the one with the most stars next to their name. Perhaps they could do a forfeit every time they break the agreement, or the overall loser has to buy coffee for everyone at the end of the trip/day.
- Have a Swear Jar, and a list of banned words, which will differ according to your family needs. Words like Trump, Brexit, Snowflake, Gammon etc could be banned for the length of the holiday period and a fine of anything from 10p to £1 charged every time someone mentions one. The problem with this occurs if the weather does change and we get snow, or if you’re having a leg of Ham on Boxing Day, when a truce may need to be declared for the duration of the meal/weather event.
- Consider having a few separate events instead of one big family event. If you truly have to see everyone, but it always ends in tears, run Christmas differently. Having smaller meet ups, and basing them on shared interests may make them easier to hold. A cinema trip, a pub meal, a shopping trip with coffee, walk in the park or visit to a museum could provide a neutral location to spend time with relatives with whom a few hours in a small house could be torture. Spend Christmas Day with only the people you truly love to spend time with, and enjoy a peaceful season.
- If World War Three seems inevitable, just move quietly over night and leave no forwarding address. Or, at the very least, climb up into the attic when your guests are due to arrive and refuse to open the door. With a TV set, pile of decent books and a good supply of Pringles, spiced nuts and chocolates, it should be possible to see the season through with the minimum of interaction with any one.
I’m sure there are some ideas there you could use, or would use if you thought you’d get away with them. For the rest of us, I hope for a peaceful season, enough strength to bite our tongue and patience to handle what comes our way. You can do it, you know you can. And if there’s any doubt… find that attic key, and come up and join me.
Did I make you giggle?
I have a massive favour to ask….
I don’t monetise my blog. I don’t run adverts, take sponsorship for writing posts or use affiliate links. I want everything I do on this blog and in my hygge life outside to be truthful. If I promote a book it’s because I’ve read it and like it, if I point out an item it’s because it’s impressed me on its own merits and not because the publicist has talked me into it. It does mean I don’t run giveaways and I’m not chasing followers, but the drawback is that I need to find a way to support myself.
That’s why I write books. My thoughts are that if I ask you to buy a book not only does it support me, and let me keep writing as an independent writer, but you get something back for your bucks. I’ve written several books, some on hygge, some on Christmas. If you like what you read here, or in the Hygge Nook, and you’d like to support a struggling writer, would you please consider buying a book? Ebooks give you the best value, since for 2 or 3 pounds you get the content of the book, but I’d be a pretty poor writer if I didn’t appreciate the beauty of a real book in the hand. If you buy just one book, it all adds up in the end to support me, and I’d be so grateful.
I have three Christmas books,
Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas was released in September 2017 and is available again in paperback and ebook version. It looks at keeping the Christmas season warm and cosy, with ideas for activities and routines to keep Christmas happy.
A (Hygge) Christmas Carol is my look at Dickens’ immortal classic and the many lessons we still learn from it today. It contains the full text of the book as well as hyggely thoughts on the story.
Enjoying a Self Care Christmas is only available in ebook version. It’s about keeping Christmas simple enough and healthy enough to keep you sane in the process.
My other books are hygge related, 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way was my first book, and is available in Paperback and Kindle version. It’s a simple look at ways to feel more hyggely in life and at home even though we’re not Danish and don’t have it in our DNA.
Happier is my fourth book. It’s about how I boost my own happiness levels. It’s full of hints, tips and ideas for you to use and adapt to suit your own situation. It is available in ebook and paperback version from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
If you buy any of the books through the links on this page, I get a couple of extra pence per copy, in Amazon vouchers which go towards buying more books to review for the blog. I’d really love it if you’d support me monetarily, but I quite understand that cash is tight for many people, and I just love having your support via reading and commenting as well.