COPING WITH FAMILY AT CHRISTMAS.

I’m going to start this post by slightly contradicting myself. In my latest blog I wrote about how no matter how much my family annoyed me, I was grateful for this time that I get to spend with them.

Which I am, endlessly. BUT having spent a few more days at home, around immediate and extended family, I’ve realised that I made it sound all too easy.

When you move away, coming home becomes a bit of an interrogation. Everyone wants to know what’s happening in your life and they feel entitled to have an opinion.

Barbara pops up again asking when I’m going to ‘find a man’ (for the 100th time BARBARA I’M FINE WITH THE FACT THAT IM SINGLE SO CAN YOU FUCKING DROP IT thanks, and could you pass the cranberry sauce please.)

My Aunty questions how I chose to live my life in London. Not only criticising the fact that my leccy is on the metre but endlessly pointing out that my degree is a waste of money and probably won’t lead to a job. Unhelpful at best.

My Parents ask me about how Uni is going, my grades, my job and how much money I’m spending. My Mum in particular loves to fuss around me, constantly tidying up after me saying ‘It’s no wonder you lose everything with the mess you make’.

Family friends peer at me over Christmas drinks and mince pies and eventually say ‘why have you done that to your face, you’re such a pretty girl you don’t need that stupid lip piercing.’

The lesson here is learning to notice that all of these opinions, which often feel like criticisms, come from a place of love.

It must be so bizarre having a child, and imaging that child to grow up to be a certain person. Investing in their dreams and choices and then getting something completely different in return. It doesn’t condone the endless prodding but helps me to understand why my family feel the need to have a constant input on my actions.

I think most of us in this generation challenge our parents; in our ideals, our inability to conform, the clothes we wear, the things we have, say and do.

I saw Ali yesterday and we were chatting about this problem. For her and her family, the main topic of controversy is her armpit hair. I know, who cares right? But her Mum and Sister just don’t understand why she isn’t bothered about shaving. Instead of respecting that and understanding that Al is now a grown woman who can make her own decisions about her body, they impose their own standards on to her.

Naturally, Ali felt hurt and attacked. But the thing is, getting upset won’t change anything. You can explain and explain but people have differing opinions. And parents especially, aren’t backwards in coming forwards in expressing those opinions.

So the only thing you can really do is defend yourself, explain, and when that fails, grin and bare it. Take yourself away every now and again to re-group, even if it’s just to the toilet or the garden. Eat extra chocolate (I’ve realised that this is my answer to almost everything) and when it gets heated, take yourself away. Never stay and have it out, because believe it or not, you probably have to be the mature one in this situation.

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