Somewhere, somehow, some families must all come together at a stately ancestral homestead for the holiday season, sharing memories and bounteous feasts as warm, jasmine-scented air wafts across the table and the beer never runs out, goes warm or causes Aunty Sheila to get fired up about what Dad said right to her face back in 1994.
For the rest of us, Christmas is about spending time with the people we love…but in a Pat Benatar sense of the word. Generations of factionalism build up into a minefield of potential disasters, whether it’s two people who can’t be invited to the same event (but will be insulted if they’re the one given the A) or the inevitable sniping from aged relatives who disapprove of everyone else’s life decisions. Or the cousin who can’t help bringing up embarrassing old stories before hitting on someone’s new partner. Or someone’s new partner who is more than up for that.
But there are methods of dealing with these issues, and surviving through to January 2018 with your sanity intact.
And stay drunk. With any luck, you’ll have no memory of anything that happened between 23 and 28 December. Okay, this probably isn’t practical, especially if you’ve run out of Kraken Spiced Rum to pour in the eggnog.
Make Switzerland look partisan
For your sanity, this is probably the best option. Climb a mountain of neutrality, hoist a flag and declare you’re not taking part in any backbiting, bitching or bad-mouthing. This is both cowardly and a lot easier when you can spend the whole day in the corner of the backyard, talking shop to a distant cousin or your aunty’s new bloke while the drama swirls around you.
Flee the scene
A tough choice if you’re worried about it being Nanna’s last stand, but sometimes the only winning move is not to pull the cracker. Organise an overseas trip and spend your Christmas filling up on cheap beer and dodgy buffet food in some tropical locale. You can always send festive Bitmojis to the family Snapchat channel.
Seize control of the state
It’s time for a new ruler, and you have both the extendable dining table and barbecue tongs to take over what has become a moribund, sclerotic and atrabilious tradition (thanks for the dictionary desk calendar, Secret Santa). Breaking with the past might not cure all the wounds or stop all the dramas, but you’ll be able to set up the battlefield on your own terms. And ensure there’s plenty of Kraken on hand, too.