In light of my last two experiences trying to make something from nothing (or rather something from something worth nothing), I’ve come to the conclusion that the best thing I can give you all for the holidays is an idea. It won’t smell up your kitchen, or explode on your counter or give you Lymes Disease, and it takes up very little space.
So with my big dual-use brain in gear I present my fool-proof, best ever idea for a joyful holiday get-together.
This isn’t something I hammered out in a minute. I’ve been honing this idea for years and promoting this from within with no real takers, yet. The next logical step is to take it outside my literal family and offer it up as a reward to my virtual and hopefully more receptive family instead. Da da da DAAAA – I bring you “the Hope for the Holidays Bad Relative Exchange”© 2010 by Alison Colby-Campbell. Think of it as a Yankee Swap of annoying people instead of presents. It’s built on the premise that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. That may seem harsh, but have you ever tried to recount the antics of an outrageous family-member to an outsider? You can barely get the words out before being cut off by reports of experiences far more horrendous than your own. Bad relatives are pandemic with behaviors growing worse. Truth be told I suspect everyone has at least one “difficult” family member (NOTE: if you have more than 3, it’s probably you) who causes far more tension than his/her quota allows on any given holiday
- The uncle whose language gets saltier than the onion dip after a toddy or two and who always arrives a few drinks primed.
- The cousin who comes in expecting to be taped for a shot at hosting her own show as the staging expert on HGTV if she finds enough things to complain about the way you’ve decorated your house “Clutter, you must get rid of the clutter, and those tacky faded construction paper chains say you haven’t changed your decorating style since the kids were in preschool”…”gee Cousin Bitter that’s our Christmas tree”.
- The sibling who knows enough spreadable bad news to darken the brightest day and divulges a best- kept-hidden family secret at every meal.
- The in-law who NEVER leaves. You can be sweeping the floor, then turning out the lights in your jammies and he/she sits there and asks another question about your first grade teacher or worse yet pours another drink.
If you’ve been stoically sucking it up, believing you are bigger than he/she is, consider the toll it takes on you and the rest of the family. At some point you’re gonna crack like a fruit basket walnut. Be alert for the warning signs. Have you already switched to a standing buffet because no one wants to be tortured for an entire sit down meal by sitting next to the Holiday Crusher? Have you actively sought adoption from the normal looking family down the street? Then you know that the BR (Bad Relative) has a way of latching onto others (especially it seems the kindest people) and sucking the joy right out of their lives in mere minutes, and leaving them drained til New Years.
Have you also felt the frustration of seeing this person at non-family gatherings where they can be charming and engaging and they mind their manners as well as their alcohol consumption? That’s what makes my idea more brilliant than cruel.
Here’s how the “Hope for the Holidays Bad Relative Exchange” ©2010 works. Simply put, you trade out your bad family member for someone else’s with the knowledge that the relative behaves better among strangers and that among strangers his or her positive talents will be given a chance to shine without scorching. It is a web-based operation where people log in and identify themselves, the occasion, date and hours and the bad relative with an honest description of the buttons they push. Another person signs in, posts their bad relative; you agree on a swap and make transport arrangements. It’s that simple. Even if you don’t make a swap, reading the stories will provide support in knowing you’re not the only one, and with a little luck the other relatives will sound so bad, you’ll recognize yours is a peach in comparison.
Got any takers – how about ideas or relatives you want to complain about….your comments are welcome. Just don’t get all redundant about them, I find that very annoying.
© 2010 by Alison Colby-Campbell