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The busiest fighting week of the year is almost upon us. Across the world families will soon come together and rediscover the reasons they moved apart in the first place, arguments growing into fights, growing into turkey-scented orgies of ruptured feelings.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Because families everywhere are all composed of the same elements -- mothers, alcoholic uncles, siblings with both sets of genitals who were raised as boys -- it turns out that we all have basically the same arguments. Below I've cataloged some of the most common types of fights you'll likely participate in during the coming week, with the hopes that you'll use the lessons learned within to really make someone cry. I've added some illustrative examples to each fight, which due to a lack of parties willing to sign releases, I'm forced to state are fictional.

7
Judginess

As soon as you walk in the door, critical eyes are turned your way. Your posture, the quality of your clothes, the paucity of gifts you appear to be bringing; all of these things are getting noticed and tallied by the more judgmental members of your clan.

"You have a job but not a career, your pants don't fit, and I'm still not 100 percent convinced you're mine. Welcome home."

Worst of all is the evaluation of anyone you happen to be bringing home with you, and how they might compare with the perfect shrew of a wife your perfect ass of a brother has. How This Might Go: Shrewish Sister-In-Law: "So how well do you know Ellen?" Chris "Everyman" Bucholz: "Real well. Super real well even. But I don't want to come off as bragging." Sister-In-Law: "Because she doesn't seem that familiar pronouncing your name." Chris: "Maybe I changed my name. Maybe you don't know my name?" Sister-In-Law: "Did you change your name?" Chris: "No." Sister-In-Law: "Is she a prostitute?" Chris: "Of course not! She's more of a ... companion." Sister-In-Law: "Like an escort?" Chris: "Essentially." Sister-In-Law: "That's awful." Chris: "You're not impressed I can afford an escort for a whole half-day?" Sister-In-Law: "We're not impressed because you brought a prostitute home for Christmas!" Chris: "She's not a prostitute! She's an escort!" Sister-In-Law: "Same difference." Chris: "It is not. At this point, all I've done is paid her for her company. There's nothing explicitly agreed to about what could happen later, sex-wise. She could end up paying me for sex." Escort: "Yeah, I'm not going to do that." Chris: "Hey. Hey. Hey. What are you here for? You're here to be on my side."

6
Politics

One of the side effects of our tubed-age is that we no longer regularly spend time talking to people who hold different political views from ourselves. Back in the old days, when we watched the same news and read the same newspapers, things might not have always been civil, but we were at least speaking the same language. Political conversations have become a lot less civil since, as people bump up on ideas they've deliberately been ignoring. It makes for awkward, tense conversations -- and more than a few trolling opportunities, useful if you need to get in a few quick points against your tolerated loved ones. How This Might Go: Chris: "I'm just saying is that if the 99 percent were sent to Guantanamo Bay, we'd have won the war on poverty by now." Sister-In-Law: "You cannot possibly think that." Chris: "And probably the war on drugs too. Poor people love drugs." Sister-In-Law: "They're not poor people! They're the 99 percent who aren't extremely rich!" Escort: "Also, rich people like drugs too." Chris: "That's a good point." Sister-In-Law: "Thank you! Wait. Whose point?" Chris: "The drug one; everyone loves drugs. That's kind of their thing, isn't it? That's why the war on drugs has been so tough to win: drugs are awesome." Sister-In-Law: "Can you not say that in front of my kid?" Chris: "Christmas is a time for uncomfortable truths." Sister-In-Law: "No it's not!" Escort: "What if we sent the children to Guantanamo Bay to keep them away from the drugs?" Chris: "Yes! Now you're thinking. High five!" -high five- "And then we can send the 99 percent to Iraq. Mission Accomplished."
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5
Gift Not Good Enough

It is often the case that one of the gifts which you've thoughtfully purchased wasn't thoughtful enough; that it was in fact, pretty damned unthoughtful. Instead of deflecting the conversation away from your faults, it doesn't, and serves as a conversation piece in the ongoing debate about what kind of asshole you are. How This Might Go: Sister-In-Law: "Is this ... a Tickle Me Elmo?" Chris: "It is."

Sister-In-Law: "Why did you get me a Tickle Me Elmo?" Chris: "Those things are impossible to get." Sister-In-Law: "I'll bet. But it's not a very good answer to my original question. Why?" Chris: "You don't have one. And I assumed you always wanted one." Sister-In-Law: "I didn't. Nobody wants one. That's why they stopped making them. That's why someone sold you this one. You did buy this right? You didn't steal it?" Chris: "No, I bought it. Not it specifically, but yes, it, amongst other things." Sister-In-Law: "You were auction hunting for Christmas presents again weren't you?" Chris: "Would you have preferred the old weight bench?" Sister-In-Law: "Oh gross. I think there's gum on this thing." Chris: "Let's hope so." Sister-In-Law: "Why would we hope there's gum on this thing?" Chris: "No we're hoping that it's just gum." Escort: -looking closely- "It's just gum." Chris: "And she'd know."

4
Aggressive Regifting

Worse than the gift not good enough for the receiver is the gift not good enough for the giver. The traditional way to regift involves a kitchen gadget received one-to-two years previously from a distant relative, but if used in combination with certain sleight of hand techniques on the day of festivities, it can be used to dramatically cut down on both your Christmas shopping, as well as any participation in relatives' Last Wills & Testaments. How This Might Go: Sister-In-Law: "This looks like the same sweater I just got you." Chris: "No, it's a different one." Sister-In-Law: "Where is the sweater I just got you?" Chris: "I already put it in the car." Sister-In-Law: "You ran out and put it in the car and came back without anyone noticing?" Chris: "I thought it strange too, but everyone was very involved with themselves and their presents. This is a very self-involved family. I think the materialism of the holiday is having a really negative effect on us." Sister-In-Law: "Mmhm. Why, I wonder, would you think to get a sweater several sizes too large for me?" Chris: "Several sizes? I mean ... you are kind of getting more ..." Sister-In-Law: "I'm kind of getting what?" Escort: "Easy buddy." Chris: "More ... lovely." Sister-In-Law: "Uh-huh." Chris: "More as in volume. Voluminous amounts of loveliness. Anyways, I'll be in the car."
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3
You Don't Have To Love Them As Much When They're Not Yours

For kids, Christmas is just fantastic, easily the best day of the year, if not their entire young lives. And this isn't youthful foolishness, kids getting excited for no reason -- they're right to be excited. It's an entire day dedicated to chocolate and toys and tipping over the brain's pleasure-bucket and letting the serotonin spill all over. That special joy that shows up in a child's eyes on Christmas is a thing to behold, and it's only natural that you'd get kind of jealous of it and snipe at it a bit. How This Might Go: Chris: "Well how was I supposed to know she still believed in Santa?" Sister-In-Law: "You should have assumed it!" Chris: "Assume? Assume? ASSUME just makes an ASS out of U and ME." Sister-In-Law: "Well then you could have kept your mouth shut and read the situation like a normal person." Chris: "I did read the situation! She's like 7 years old! Who believes in Santa when they're 7?" Sister-In-Law: "She's 4." Chris: "Really? Wow. And you let her dress like that?"

2
Noggin It

Eggnog's kind of a weird drink. It's got egg in it, for one. Not many other drinks feature eggs, really any that I can think of, aside from the one I invented back in college called the Eggshibitionist, which was basically straight gin served in a L'eggs pantyhose egg.

They don't make those egg containers any more, which means, logically, this Christmas you'll have to drink eggnog until you can see through walls. How This Might Go: Sister-In-Law: "You've had too much eggnog." Chris: "I have had not too much ... much too not ... eggnog." Sister-In-Law: "You're proving my point." Chris: "There's no such thing as too much eggnog. Scientists are studying this topic right now and have already made several surprising findings." Sister-In-Law: "You just called my daughter a slut." Chris: "I did not! I implied that you dress her like one. You need to take some listening comprehension classes. Science has also shown that words mean different things. It's ... it's amazing." Sister-In-Law: -sniffing- "What's in that eggnog? Don't say science." Chris: "But ... it is. Emulsifi ... fissifications and what not. What else can I say if I can't say the S-word? I feel like you've really set me up to fail here." Escort: "He's been topping it up from that box of wine." Chris: -hiccough- "I'll top you up." Sister-In-Law: "Ewugh." Escort: -simultaneously- "Ewugh."
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1
Tallying Up the Damage

Eventually the festivities will be over, and you'll be driving home with your spouse or escort, and you'll get in an argument about how horrible your family is, and you'll be so angry that you'll fail to realize that no one's taking the side of your family and that you're not actually arguing with each other. How This Might Go: Chris: "You know, thanks. You were a total pro through all of this." Escort: "Happens every holiday. Better than my family." Chris: "Your family's worse than this?" Escort: "Well ..." Chris: "See?" Escort: "We don't have you in it." Chris: "That counts. I'm a part of my family. Our family's the worst. Checkmate!" -long silence while Escort parks my car in front of my apartment- Escort: "So." Chris: "So." Escort: "So." Chris: "Right. So here's the $800 for the day. And uh ..." Escort: "It's OK. You can ask." Chris: "Well, I was hoping to earn some of that back." -the sound of an enormous, totally professional slap, followed by a slamming car door, followed by wine-nog-vomit splashing over the dash and tear-choked laughter-

For more survivor manuals from Chris, check out So You're Accidentally Stalking Helen Mirren and Online Dating Strategies.

Bucholz has gotten less terrified of human contact! Make him reconsider that by Liking His Facebook page or Following Him On Twitter!

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