’Tis the season to add activities and expenditures to your already overfull calendar and overtaxed budget, and also to field a bunch of extra family-centric demands. Yay, family! On top of everything else, you may get invited to your toddler nephew’s nativity play or be expected to travel six hours cross-country to spend Christmas Eve in the childhood bed you outgrew 15 years ago. Or perhaps you’ll get a voicemail from your mother-in-law requesting gluten-free stuffing for her new boyfriend, whom she is apparently bringing to dinner at your home.
If you say yes to all of it, you’re going to wind up an empty shell at the end of the year — like Santa’s toy sack, except you don’t get 364 days to recover before going back to work. Instead, try something like: “I can’t make it to Billy’s play, but I look forward to seeing blurry mobile phone video footage of his star turn as Manger Sheep #2!”
Or: “I love you guys, but my 40-year-old back needs a little more support than ye olde bunk bed can offer, so I’ll be getting a hotel for the night.”
Or: “My oven racks are all spoken for, but if your gentleman caller wants to contribute a dish to the spread, he is more than welcome to do so. What was his name again?”
If your family love you and want you to be happy this holiday season, they should be the most tolerant and understanding of your limits, should they not? Not to mention, they probably also have too much going on — which means the perfect gift for everyone would be to let each other off the hook.
Originally published in The Australian