How to Survive the Holidays Without Shoving Aunt Mildred into the Turkey
With a dash of dry humour and a sprinkle of deflection, we share some tips on how to navigate even the most awkward family gatherings with grace and composure
The holidays are a time for family, joy, and, of course, the annual gauntlet of unhelpful comments from our well-meaning but sometimes socially inept relatives. Whether it’s Aunt Mildred’s passive-aggressive remarks about your weight or Uncle George’s unsolicited advice on your career choices, these awkward interactions can turn a family gathering into a family feud faster than you can say “Pass the gravy.”
The answer lies in mastering the art of the witty retort, the ability to deflect an unhelpful comment with a touch of dry British humour that leaves your relative feeling slightly sheepish and you feeling a tad smug.
Fear not, for we shall equip you with the tools to navigate these minefields of familial faux pas through strategies and scenarios. Here are a few examples of how to turn those awkward moments into lighthearted exchanges, sure to make you the envy of your exasperated siblings.
Strategy: A Dash of Humor
A well-placed quip can deflect even the most pointed remark. For instance, when Aunt Mildred comments on your expanding waistline, you could reply with a deadpan, “Blimey, Aunt Mildred, you’re right. I’ve been hitting the mince pies a bit hard. Perhaps I should switch to the brandy butter instead.”
Or perhaps, “You know me, saving on my electricity bills. I’m getting plenty of Christmas pudding and mince pies to keep me warm this winter.”
Strategy: The Deflective Question
Sometimes, the best way to handle an awkward comment is to change the subject with a question that forces the offender to reflect on their rudeness. For example, if Uncle George starts lecturing you on your career choices, you could innocently ask, “Uncle George, do you think you missed your calling as a careers counsellor? Just think of all the money you could have made. You’re a good soul just giving your unsolicited advice away all these years for free.”
If Aunt Mary chirps in, too with, “I’m so worried about you, dear. You’re still working at that dead-end job, aren’t you? When are you going to get a proper career?”
Your sophisticated response could be “Oh, I’m quite content at my current position. I find it quite fulfilling being an expert in procrastination.”
Strategy: The Sarcastic Agree
Sometimes, a hint of sarcasm can be the perfect antidote to unsolicited negativity. For example, if someone criticises your parenting skills, you could respond with a wry reply which highlights something you know they did as parents that may not have been up to scratch. Such as, “Of course, Mum. I’m sure your parenting methods, which involved feeding us Marmite sandwiches and forcing us to watch reruns of Coronation Street, were far superior.”
Strategy: The Polite Escape
Sometimes, the best defence is a swift retreat. If a relative starts monopolising the conversation with their monotonous monologue, politely excuse yourself to the bathroom, kitchen, or the front room to adjust Christmas baubles on the tree.
Scenario: The Relationship Scrutiny
“Still single, then? What are you waiting for? There must be something wrong with you.”
Your understated remark: “Well, I’ve just discovered I’m allergic to commitment. It’s a terrible affliction, but I’m managing.”
Scenario: When Aunt Mildred comments on your new haircut
“Yes, I know, it’s a bit of a departure from my usual style. I was feeling adventurous, or perhaps just desperately in need of a distraction from my impending midlife crisis.”
Scenario: Someone criticises how you’ve cooked your turkey
“I’m glad you’re so adventurous with your palate. I’m not sure if you’re ready for my next culinary creation.”
Scenario: When Cousin Emily points out your lack of a significant other:
“Yes, I’m still very much single, Emily. I’m just biding my time until I find someone who appreciates my quirks and my ability to consume an entire trifle in one sitting.”
Witty not wicked, it is Christmas after all
Remember, the key is to deliver these retorts with a hint of self-deprecation and a dash of humour, not with malice or bitterness. You want to make your relative feel slightly sheepish, not like they’ve just been verbally assaulted by a witty scarecrow.
So, the next time your eccentric aunt starts questioning your life choices or your uncle starts judging your career path, don’t panic. Simply channel your inner British wit and turn their remarks into comedic moments.
After all, the holidays are supposed to be about laughter and joy, not stress and tension. Embrace the absurdity of the situation, and you’ll find yourself emerging from the festive minefield with your sanity intact and your sense of humour well-honed.
If all else fails, there is this…
If the quips are lost on those they were intended, you could always play a drinking game whereby when any relative or guest makes a dig, you and anyone collectively suffering with you must wink, the person who winks last has to take a drink.
As always, drink responsibly and have a designated driver. Maybe even Aunt Mildred could give you a lift. That is if you’re still in her good books.