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.
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."
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."
#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."