Here are some funny dad rules for surviving Christmas, especially the one about doing something really nice to kick things off, listen to people say “you shouldn’t have,” and then “don’t” for the rest of the holiday. I do wish I understood what a “lilo” (#6) is however.
Dad rules: surviving Christmas
Listen up. You’ve only a few days to prepare before you travel to enemy territory for Christmas. Here’s a checklist for survival:
1 The curse of Christmas is that there are always people more generous than you. And there’s always one random — eg neighbour, friend of Mum’s — who’ll shame you with chocolates. Be prepared: hoard bottles of something you can claim to be your favourite wine. Make cards with your children. My daughter Cassady, 5, did one that depicted the Christmas fairy. (“She does not like sitting on Christmas trees because she gets needles in her pants.”) I’ll be giving those to everyone.
2 Obviously, you want to arrive early so as to bag rooms before your sister arrives, but don’t drive children in the daytime, or you’ll arrive stressed and covered in crumbs. Tell your sister you’re arriving on the 24th. Drive up on the night of the 23rd.
3 Bring earplugs, holly and manners. A good idea is to wash up immediately after arriving. Everyone will say: “Oh, no, you really shouldn’t.” For the rest of the visit, heed their advice. A good ruse is to be the one who befriends the aged relative. When in doubt, sit on the sofa and nod.
4 Beware — there may be enemy children about, and you must show you’re a good sport by engaging with them. The trick is to delay this as long as possible, or they will seek you out as their special friend. Wait till the last day, then make an impression by flying them round the living room. Make sure you don’t trip, though, or you’ll crash-land them onto Granny.
5 Just accept it: all mums are insane throughout Christmas. There’s little you can do. Peel potatoes. Keep smiling. Ply with drink.
6 Steel yourself for siblings. You’ve not talked in a year; suddenly, you’re sharing a lilo on the floor.
7 Keep your discipline. Last year, we visited the in-laws, who are restrained, ascetic people, who drink moderately and snack on brown organic apricots. My head felt like one of those apricots, after I’d stayed up till 3am enjoying a one-man party of booze, fags and Bourne films. I arrived in the kitchen at 8am. Sister was making a sauce. Mum was chopping leeks while listening to a report on the Indonesian economy. There was nowhere to hide.
8 Go to bed early and don’t make festive innuendos such as “I’ve got to stuff the turkey”, or “I’d better get to bed. Later, I’m coming down the chimney”.
9 You’ll be under surveillance from mums determined that everyone should have fun. At all times wear a smile, a festive hat and the ugliest and most garish present you’ve been given.
10 Remember to enjoy yourself. If you don’t, someone will attack. ’Tis the season to be jolly. And if you can’t be jolly, get drunk.