For every person looking forward to spending the holidays with family, there's another one, or five, who are dreading it. For some, time with extended family is practically purgatory.
I'm lucky. I like my family; in fact, I love them.
Yet, as I listen to people grumble about their awful in-laws, crazy sister or cheapskate uncle, it strikes me that some people aren't happy unless they have something to complain about.
In the spirit of generosity, I've compiled a list of things you can do to make yourself, and everyone around you, absolutely miserable this holiday season.
Here are seven tips guaranteed to make spending time with your family pure torture:
1. Drink as much as possible - now is not the time for moderation. Start drinking early in the day so that you're sloshed by dinner. This ensures that you say something totally inappropriate, and it also increases the likelihood of getting angry and having terrible table manners.
2. Ruminate about past hurts - forget grace and forgiveness: it's the holidays. Start stewing about past injustices now so that by the time you see your family, you'll already have worked yourself up into an awful mood. Just because it happened a long time ago, or was entirely unintentional, that's no reason for you to let it go.
3. Insist on having everything your way - other family members' traditions are irrelevant. What's really important is that you make everyone conform to the perfect picture of Christmas you have in your head. If they like ham, and you're a turkey crowd, don't even think about compromising your values.
4. Refuse all offers of help - let's face it, other people just don't do things correctly, so why bother asking them? Besides, how can you play the martyr if you don't get yourself all stressed out? It's easier to resent people if you never give them the chance to do anything.
5. Rehash old arguments - if you've festered long enough (see Tip 3), you should be ready to blow by Christmas Eve. A mental list of old grievances is handy, but since you might be drunk (See Tip 1), I recommend compiling a written list of all the things anyone has ever done to make you angry. Use it as a guide during your tirade.
6. Be cheap about sleeping arrangements - if you're visiting out of town family, don't waste money on a comfortable room in a nearby hotel. An old sofa bed with a skinny mattress and a thick metal bar in the center of it will ensure that you wake up cranky from day one. Plus, tossing and turning all night will help you relive all those past arguments and hurts (See Tips 2 and 5).
7. Judge every gift - graciousness and gratitude are passé. Evaluate your gifts based on how much money they spent and how well they know your personal preferences. You may only see them sporadically, but if your family really cared about you, they would know that you like vanilla scented candles, not cranberry ones.
Being miserable takes work. But if you put your mind to it and follow my tips, you too can have a horrible holiday.
- Lisa Earle McLeod is an author, syndicated columnist and president of McLeod & More, Inc. (www.TriangleofTruth.com).