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Coping with Christmas When Your Family Members Are Jerks

It’s okay for you to say it; they’re your family.

Christmas adverts and shows have a lot to answer for. They show families as these smiling faces, sitting round the Pinterest-worthy table, laughing like they’re wasted. And social media is no better. With photos, pins, posts, tweets, and snaps showing just how happy their families are.

And then there’s your family, a bunch of sour-faced story-toppers, all prying into your business like they have money riding on you. Not quite the same is it? Well, yeah, it probably is. I can promise you that one picture you saw on social media does NOT represent someone’s Christmas as a whole. That picture is a snapshot. It is what people want and allow others to see. It isn’t real life.

But knowing that doesn’t stop your family from being a bunch of shrieking jerk offs, completely incapable of human affection or respecting boundaries.

So how are you supposed to cope with Christmas when your family sucks?

Well, you have to think about how and why they suck so much. Do they ask personal questions? Are they critical of your life choices? Do they have a problem with your sexuality?

Think about what it is that makes them so irritating and tackle that.

They ask personal questions.

Every family has a member who asks inappropriately personal questions in front of the entire Christmas dinner table. For me, it was my oldest sister Mandy. She would pick and pry, doing her best to embarrass me in front of people. That was until I learned that shit like that needs to be stopped before it starts.

You don’t have to be rude to someone like that. I get that nobody wants a fight at Christmas, but you do need to be firm with them.

Let them know, in no uncertain terms, that it’s none of their business and that questions like that will either be ignored or just not tolerated.

But if standing up to them isn’t something that you feel like you can do, just try your best to change the subject.

They criticize everything.

From your choice of career, all the way down to how much makeup you’re wearing (or not wearing), there’s always that one person who feels like your business is their business. Nothing is off limits with them and they’re not shy about who they say it in front of. They don’t care, they just want to make you feel inferior.

The first step to dealing with the criticizer is to realize that they’re just a horrible person. Just because they are your family, doesn’t mean that they’re not total a-holes. Secondly, it’s none of their business. And thirdly, you need to ask them why they feel the need to criticize everything you do. They will deny it, but calling them out on it should be enough to keep them quiet for a few hours at least.

They bring up the past.

Some people like nothing more than to drag up old drama. And a massive family gathering is the ideal place for them to do it. Let them know as politely (or not, I’m not your mother) as you can that this is in the past. Then change the topic of conversation to something more positive.

The Dog with the Bone

Okay, he hasn't got a bone, but look how cute! 

They have a problem with you and they won’t let it go. They dig at you every chance they get and they won’t stop until they get a reaction. Please don’t give them one. If you do, then they will win. Ask them what their problem is. They probably won’t tell you, but at least you asked. Be civilized and don’t raise your voice to them; this is what they want.

The Homophobe

Or *insert orientation here* phobe. These people are not nice in any way. And if you are a member of the LGBT+ community, then this makes things a million times more uncomfortable and upsetting. You can’t argue with a bigot. They’re freaking morons and they’re human garbage. The best advice I can give to you is just don’t say anything. Literally, not one word. If they are talking crap to you, just ignore them like they hadn't spoken.

Families are all nuts.

Families are all messed up in their own individual way and we do what we can to get by. But if your family members are a serious threat to your mental health (I know mine are), then reconsider going to visit. Is it worth all the anxiety, stress, and abuse you could face? The holidays are a really sensitive time for everyone with mental health problems, and taking care of yourself needs to be the top priority.

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