So, you managed to not blow your fingers off during the Fourth of July, your house wasn’t besieged by marauding bands of murderous thugs like that movie “The Purge” during Halloween, and no one was rushed to the hospital with food poisoning because they ate the bootleg ham you bought from the trunk of a sketchy looking car during Thanksgiving.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to Christmas, the biggest holiday of the year. This is a time of family togetherness, full of happiness and yuletide cheer. Or at least it would be if you belonged to a family that wasn’t completely awful. You could’ve stayed away and spent time alone, or even better, with friends. But unfortunately due to a Faustian pact you made with your late mother before she died in exchange for a car to drive while you were away at diesel college or whereverthefuck you were for three years, you are now obligated to come back home every Christmas. You’re supposed to show love for your fellow man, yet that’s nearly impossible when you’re surrounded by degenerates and assholes. What’s worse is the realization that because you share their DNA, that makes you at the very least one-quarter asshole.But never fear, The Hammer & Nigel Show is here to help. Follow our advice and you stand upwards of a 73% chance of making it through this situation without you and a relative going to jail for brawling through your neighbor’s front yard nativity scene.
1. Don’t React To Drama.
One of the biggest things that people complain about if they have, well let’s just say, an “interesting” relationship with their family is that there are a myriad of moments where they can potentially get dragged into somebody else’s dumbass bullshit. Everyone has that relative that isn’t happy unless they are complaining about someone or saying some backbiting, two faced comment about somebody else who may or may not be within earshot in the next room. The only thing you can attempt to do is just tune them out and not let them ruin your good mood. Unfortunately, this bit of advice isn’t for you because we’ve already established that your family is all sorts of terrible. At this point, your Aunt May constantly second guessing your cousin Peter’s choices in career or friends during dinner is the least of your problems.
Some people have got some truly messed up skeletons in their closet that for others would mean a one way ticket to the nearest therapist but for them simply lead to very tense and awkward moments that come out only during family gatherings. For instance, maybe when you were eleven you had an older cousin who would take you into the woods after school, ask you to close your eyes, and try to get you to play a game with him called “Guess the Lollipop”.
And after not seeing that bastard for near on twenty years, there he sits right across the table from you.
Or maybe you have the inappropriate uncle. Not inappropriate like Cousin Chester the Molester up there; inappropriate as in socially awkward to the point of causing pain in others. His jokes fall flat, he creeps out your date by talking about how back in ‘Nam he had a stripper girlfriend that looked just like her, and he accidentally brings up the fact that the reason it took your other uncle’s divorce twelve years to finally go through was because your aunt was sent away to a leper colony when she got addicted to krokodil.
God, your family is a wreck.
Anyway, the best way to deal with thi-
Wait. “Guess the Lollipop”? Seriously? Dammit. Just… Goddammit.
Okay, breathe. Breathe. We’re gonna get through this together.
Anyway as we were saying, honestly the best way to deal with this situation is to try, try, try not to step into the big pile of crazy that someone else left in the middle of the room. Yes, we know your brother’s wife always has some slick shit to say to your girlfriend simply because she has to be the center of attention. Yes, we know sitting you next to your inappropriate uncle at dinner after he’s had a shot or twelve is just courting disaster. Yes, we know you should slap whoever it was that invited your creepy cousin here without telling you (Again, seriously? “Guess the Fucking Lollipop”? Wow…). Just remember, the ultimate goal is to make it through this night, be the bigger person, resist any urge to lash out at all these other psychos, and just enjoy your turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing.
So how do you best achieve serenity and not attempt to hang somebody upside down from a door frame as if they were a sprig of mistletoe?
2. Tonight, Alcohol and Cigarettes are Your Friends.
Now, now, we know you’re probably saying “But guys, I don’t smoke and I sure as hell don’t drink, especially around these idiots!”. Well, we’re not saying that you should. If you’re the type of person who slips up on occasion and either gets very emotional or speaks their mind with no care for the feelings of others when they drink, don’t let your lips so much as brush up against a drop of alcohol.
No, what we are suggesting is that you embrace alcohol and cigarettes on this night for two really important reasons. The first one is that if you are having a hard time stomaching the conversations that are happening around you, pretending you are a smoker gives you an out. All you have to do is just wait for when you feel that moment come over you where everyone else is pissing you off to the point where you’ll want to Frisbee a fucking end table at their damn heads (Don’t worry, much like falling in love, you’ll know it when it happens). At that point, just go towards the door where other smokers are headed while holding your coat and announce you’re going out for a bit of fresh air. That should at least buy you a little time to regain your composure and at the same time avoid certain people.
But what if you happen to be at a house that allows smoking indoors? Well first off, of course you are, you used to live here; the walls of the living room are painted with nothing more than cigarette ash and broken dreams. In that case, just let it be known that you’ve stopped smoking indoors because of the smell it leaves behind and you don’t want to fall back into the habit of doing it. If they insist, you insist harder. Even if it leads to an Insist-Off, where the loser has to be super adamant about a position that they are diametrically opposed to, you just keep right on insisting as you head out the door to be alone.
Either way you’re separated from the problem, for now at least. But eventually they are going to close the gap and you will inevitably be cornered and wrangled into a conversation you are not even close to being prepared to have. Well, remember how we said to stay sober? Here’s why. At the right moment in the festivities, reach for a pack of pretend smokes and when you don’t have them, excuse yourself by saying you need to make a run to the store to get more. To really get free of the quicksand trap of a convo you found yourself stuck in, offer to pick up a pack for anyone who is a smoker within earshot. If they say they’re good and don’t need any, let them know it’s no problem and that you won’t take no for an answer. Keep it up until they give in and tell you the brand to buy so you can escape into the night, if only for one fleeting moment. That’s how a Heavyweight Champion of Insist-Offs rolls.
Also when it comes down to it, being the one sober non-smoker in a house full of lushes who smoke like chimneys will make you become by default the designated driver for all sorts of little errands. Trips to the store for more beer and cigarettes, drives across town to the Costco near the suburbs so you can get a twenty pound block of Velveeta (or what your stepmom with no sense of irony calls the “fancy cheese”), and of course, a way to remove jerkfaces from the premesis by taking them back to their motels one by one. Yeah, it may cost you almost one hundred dollars in gas by the end of the day but it’s far, far cheaper than the lawyer fees you’d earn by somehow accidentally becoming an accessory to shoplifting and aggravated assault.
3. You Know What? Fuck it, Just Go With It.
At a particular point in the night, after all your ducking and dodging, all of your efforts to avoid any sort of awkward conversation, and all of your attempts run for the hills whenever someone looks in another direction, you’re going to come to realize one thing. While these people totally go against everything you now stand for, the fact of the matter is that the entire time you’ve been trying to avoid them, they’ve been doing their own thing and enjoying themselves. So if you’ve come to this realization and the party is still going strong, we suggest that you just say screw it and join in on whatever ridiculous shenanigans they’ve got going on. As that old saying goes, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”.
You knew that this whole thing was going to go out of control from the outset, so you may as well just steer directly into the skid and hope that the airbags go off. This is your family. They are the reason you exist and the reason you are the way you are, for good or for ill. They may be a half illiterate, insane, borderline racist douchesquad, but they’re YOUR half illiterate, insane, borderline racist douchesquad. And nothing on earth will ever change that. So screw it! What is avoiding any type of conversation going to do other than mark YOU as the “Weirdo” during the next family function? So tell that advice to take a jog around the fucking block with that noise and kick rocks the entire way. Who knows, you may actually be able to hash out some of the old baggage that was standing in between you and another member of the family.
Except for your cousin. Fuck him and fuck lollipops.
But maybe talking to your family for a change and actually having conversations that involve a little bit of conflict may make it so they will get your point of view about things for once. Maybe sitting down and listening to your inappropriate uncle or your succubus of a sister in-law for more than ten minutes at a stretch will give you better insight about them as people. You both may not see eye to eye afterwards but at least you freaking looked at each other. Hell, if you cut loose jusssst a little bit, you may actually start to enjoy yourself too and start talking to your siblings about the fun times you all had when you were younger. Like how you always used to play pranks on one another…
Oooh. Sorry, that wasn’t a good example.
Or maybe you all could talk about the time when you first came back into town and you and a bunch of the family decided to hit all of the bars that you managed to find that were miraculously open on Christmas night. That was fun, right?
Okay, let’s try this. Remember the last time you and your girlfriend were here and the family decided to have an Ugly Christmas Sweater themed party? Those are always fun. There is no way in Hell that could have gone badly…
Uh, on second thought, bad idea. Screw this advice too. Pssht… like we’re in any condition to give “advice” to anyone right now. I mean seriously, why did you even listen to us anyway in the first place? We’re about six pitchers deep into an eggnog and Mad Dog 20/20 bender. You should’ve KNOWN better. We wouldn’t listen to us in that condition and we are the ones saying this shit. In fact, you know what?
Oh, but before we go, there’s just one more thing to say:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from The Hammer and Nigel Show!