Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? For some it absolutely is and they embrace all of the tinselly joy, but for others it is a nightmare time of year that is full of stress and worry.
Dealing with bigoted family members can be difficult to navigate, more so when alcohol is thrown into the mix. I remember the first Christmas after I came out being the most difficult and strained I’ve ever had as the reaction to my coming out was not the most positive. However I soldiered on and that is what I suggest you do too. Sometimes confronting things head on is the best thing to do, even if it fills you with dread. For all the family members that do not accept your sexuality, there will surely be at least one who does. That is the person you should latch on to for the duration of your stay with the family. It may be your sibling, a cousin or an aunt, but if there is someone who is sympathetic to your cause be sure to stick with them. That person can be there for you whether Christmas is miserable or an absolute joy. Allies are key and so is a drinking partner. If there is any aggro at some point during your stay with family, the only way to deal with it is to not argue back. Don’t give them the satisfaction of rising to the bait. Plus if you end up in an argument, the rest of the family may not look favourably on you. The best way to deal with such a situation is to physically remove yourself from the situation. Go to another room, go and help your Nan peel some sprouts, take the dog for a walk. Anything to get yourself away from the argument. Nobody needs an argument at Christmas and frankly you are better than that. At least that’s what you should tell yourself.
1. Are any of your friends in the same situation? Perhaps you could spend Christmas with them. You’ll understand how each other feels, be able to keep each other company, but also you will probably end up having a really lovely day.
2. If there isn’t anyone you’re able to spend Christmas with, see whether there are any charities that are providing Christmas activities. For example, the LGBT centre in Birmingham had a Christmas day party for the community last year. Although for the majority there won’t be an LGBT centre nearby, it may be worth seeing what is happening in your area that you can get involved in.
3. Being alone at Christmas doesn’t have to mean you’re lonely. Sometimes I think it might be quite nice to have a Christmas at home by myself. Then I can eat and drink as much as I want, watch the television shows that I want to watch, and don’t have to deal with the aftermath of a family who has eaten sprouts with their Christmas dinner. Sure it may not be ideal, but you’ll be able to do the day in exactly the way you want to.
So here’s the situation: You have a new boyfriend and have agreed to spend Christmas with him. Then you begin to worry about buying presents for him. How many presents should you buy? How much should you spend on him? Will he end up buying you more than you buy him and make you feel inferior?
These are questions that I’m sure have gone through many of our heads. When I was spending the first Christmas with my partner I really panicked about buying him presents. His income was much higher than mine at the time and I worried that my presents for him would be paltry compared to what he bought me. To alleviate those worries, agree a budget. It’s good to be upfront about what’s affordable. For example, if your budget is only £10, explain that and agree to only spend £10 on each other. More important than the presents is the thought behind the gifts and the time you’re spending with each other. If you’ve found yourself a good ‘un he will be fine with that. The same goes for the other costs of Christmas such as food, drink and decorations. By having that conversation your worries and stress should begin to alleviate.
I hope this survival guide helps and wish you a Christmas of happiness, health, festive cheer, and too many mince pies.