6 ways to survive the holidays with toxic relatives

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 5:22 AM

Some toxic relatives make the Griswolds of
Some toxic relatives make the Griswolds of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" look like wonderful holiday companions.

Maybe your family's not Norman Rockwell during the holidays or even the Griswolds. But do they have to act like the Sopranos?

Anyone who's unconcerned about gravy recipes and place cards but very worried about how to keep the brandy away from Uncle Ned so he won't get abusive or keeping mom from dropping poison remarks about deadbeat dads is probably poised for a holiday with toxic relatives. The thing is, there really are ways to make the holiday better, say a collection of encouraging experts, from leadership coaches to advice columnists. Here are six ways to face — and face down — holiday gatherings that involve toxic relatives:

Revise the fantasy holiday story. Unwittingly, even those whose relatives are 100 percent unacceptable in holiday situations somehow expect better, noted Martha Beck in Oprah. "Even if we don't consciously realize it, we want our families to cease and desist from all the things that affect us like fingernails on a chalkboard. We don't ask much — just socially appropriate behavior, dammit, and minimal reparations for the more damaging incidents in our past."

This mindset just sets you up for another dismal encounter, she noted. Instead, take a timeout before you meet up with your relatives this season. "Sit quietly and acknowledge what you wish they were like," Beck said. "Then prepare to accept them even if they behave as they have always done in the past. At best you may be surprised to find that they actually are changing, that some of your wishes have come true. At worst you'll feel regrettably detached from your kinfolk as you watch them play out their usual psychoses."

That can also mean stopping the "ideal holiday" narrative around friends and co-workers, according to Gabrielle Moss in Bustle. "For a long time, I lied. When I was around coworkers and acquaintances, I just went along with them, agreeing with everything they said about how stoked they were to go home, just because I didn't want to seem weird or make them feel uncomfortable." This year, Moss noted, is the perfect time to stop such agreeable dishonesty. "You can stress other things you like about the holiday (time off work, holiday sales, charming leaf piles), you can be totally honest, or you can just say that the holidays aren't a huge deal for you and leave it there," she said.

Consider (gasp!) staying away from the toxic family holiday. There may be a point at which you need to say "enough is enough" to the family holiday gathering, according to Bustle. "Is dutifully heading home for ritualistic carving of turkey, followed by cranberry sauce and nine hours of insults about how you're not doing as well as your brother, worth it?" Moss asked.

You can even consider a decision to boycott the family gathering as an act of love, according to Jezebel. "Sometimes it's just healthier and more loving to let everyone have their space, until a better time comes for sharing one space."

Set boundaries ahead of time. Decide ahead of time just how much time with toxic relatives at the holidays you can bear. Is the thought of a certain relative being at Christmas dinner a deal breaker? Are there other family folks you can tolerate in a group setting as long as you're not in their company one on one? Can you stay three hours, or is one the limit? Should you rent a car in case you need a quick getaway? It's crucial to answer these questions before, not during, a family gathering, according to Oprah.

Get the criticism out of the way ahead of time. If fault-finding is as common at holiday brunch as the breakfast casserole, see if you can't have a heart-to-heart ahead of time, recommended Cheryl Dellasega, author of "Forced to Be Family: A Guide for Living with Sinister Sisters, Drama Mamas, and Infuriating In-Laws."

You might explain it like this, "I'm not feeling that good about the holidays this year and it seems like we've gotten into this routine where every time I come home, we fall back into the parent-child syndrome and you're kind of looking at the things that I'm not doing. Maybe this year you could focus on what I am doing or just not even focus on me at all, because it's really a time when I'm wanting to be with people who love me and wanting to be in a nurturing, positive environment."

Let criticism slide. And if despite all your planning the criticism happens right at the table while the rest of the family is digging into seconds? Clinical psychologist Roni Cohen-Sandler recommended this tactic to Jezebel: "Laugh it off, 'Yeah, that's me!' and then let the comment slide off you as if you're Teflon-coated. Since this probably isn't the first (or last) time you've heard particular criticisms from particular relatives, remember that the comment says more about them than about you."

Douse the toxic behavior. Leadership coach Alicia Bassuk calls certain types of belligerent toxic relatives the "toxically insurgent" and noted that their typical toxic trademarks include condescension, judgmental, abusive or inappropriate remarks, embarrassing others or hijacking credit to turn attention back to themselves. She noted that such toxic people's remarks fall flat when others don't participate. "Fire cannot burn without oxygen, so don't give them any," she wrote for Oprah. "Your reactions and rebuttals are the air this type needs to sustain their flames. Completely refuse to respond to or accommodate them in any way, including isolating them from others whenever possible, unless and until they can conduct themselves with civil consideration. This is like putting a jar over a candle. Poof."

The very best part of defusing toxic relatives during the holidays: Your tactics can carry over to the rest of the year, Bassuk said. "Do not let toxic people infect your demeanor, morale or self-esteem," she said. "With a little know-how, you can boost your psychic immunity against them."

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Why is it called Good Friday and what’s so good about it?

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 10:50 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 10:50 PM

Pictured is a mosaic of Jesus Christ inside Messina Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo in Messina, Sicily.
Eye Ubiquitous/UIG via Getty Images
Pictured is a mosaic of Jesus Christ inside Messina Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo in Messina, Sicily.(Eye Ubiquitous/UIG via Getty Images)

Christians believe Jesus was mocked publicly and crucified on a solemn Friday more than two thousand years ago. Today, the calamitous day is celebrated as Good Friday.

But what’s so good about that?

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One answer is that at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, “good” may have referred to “holy” in Old English, a linguistic theory supported by many language experts.

According to Slate, the Oxford English Dictionary notes the Wednesday before Easter was once called “Good Wednesday.” Today, it’s more commonly known as Holy Wednesday.

And Anatoly Liberman, a University of Minnesota professor who studies the origins of English words, told Slate if we consider the alternative names for Good Friday, such as “Sacred Friday” (romance languages) or “Passion Friday” (Russian), this theory makes a lot of sense.

Another possible reason for its moniker — a theory supported by both linguists and historical evidence — refers to the holiday’s ties to Easter Sunday, which celebrates the resurrection of Christ.

Because Jesus couldn’t have been resurrected without dying, the day of his death is, in a sense, “good.”

“That terrible Friday has been called Good Friday because it led to the Resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death and sin and the celebration of Easter, the very pinnacle of Christian celebrations,” the Huffington Post reported.

A third answer, some believe, is that the “good” in Good Friday was derived from "God” or “God’s Friday” — the way the term “goodbye” comes from a contraction of the phrase “God Be With You.”

Fun Facts About Easter

Still, not everyone refers to this day as Good Friday. For example, 

The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions that, in the Greek Church, the holiday is known as "the Holy and Great Friday." In German, it's referred to as "Sorrowful Friday."

And as aforementioned, “Sacred Friday” and “Passion Friday” are also used.

In addition, because the holiday is also commemorated with a long fast, Good Friday was also referred to as “Long Friday” by the Anglo-Saxons.

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'Beware the Ides of March' -- What does that mean?

Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 12:40 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 12:40 PM

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Today marks the Ides of March, which may vaguely remind you of a high school English class. Here are some things to know about the 15th day of the month.

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Day marks the assassination of Julius Caesar

Most famously on this date, some 2,060 years ago, Roman dictator Julius Caesar died in an assassination by senators at the Curia of Pompey.

Tensions had been simmering between senators and Caesar before his death, fueled by Caesar's continued consolidation of power. However, Caesar considered the senators his allies. Just a few years before his death, Caesar was named “dictator in perpetuity,” a move that further strained relations.

According to historians, sixty senators planned and participated in the conspiracy to kill Caesar in 44 B.C.

Death marked a turning point in Roman history

Caesar was popular with the lower class people of Rome, who saw his death as an unwelcome decision made by the aristocratic class. With Caesar no longer leading, potential leaders waged war to fill the power vacuum.

The civil wars eventually culminated in the end of the Roman Republic and beginning of the Roman Empire.

'Beware the Ides of March' made famous by Shakespeare

In case you really did forget your high school English class, it's worth noting the phrase “Beware the Ides of March” was immortalized by William Shakespeare in his tragic masterpiece “Julius Caesar.”

In the play, a soothsayer warns Caesar to be careful on March 15, although the ruler ignores the mystic with tragic consequences.

Famous line based on historical events

It may come as a surprise to know the well-known phrase was actually inspired by real events.

According to Greek historian Plutarch, a seer really did warn Caesar that he would be at the very least injured by the Ides of March.

Caesar did not heed the warning.

On the day of his death, he saw the oracle and joked that he had made it to the Ides of March, to which the seer responded the day had not yet ended.

So why is it called the "Ides of March?"

The Romans kept track of days on its calendar by dividing each month up into three separate points marking the beginning, middle and end of the month. You may have guessed it but the Ides fall in the middle of the month, on the 15th of March, May, July and October and the 13th for the rest of the year.

The Ides were sacred and marked a monthly sacrifice to the Roman god Jupiter. Various other religious observances also took place on the Ides of March.

Other famous events on this day

Today isn't the anniversary of Caesar's death. Here are a few other famous events that have happened today in history:
  • 1972: Forty-four years ago (yes, that number is right) Francis Ford Coppola's three-hour crime epic "The Godfather" first played in theaters. Before "Jaws" came along in 1976, the film was the highest-grossing film ever made. It went on to win three Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture.

  • 1917: Czar Nicholas II was forced by the revolting Russian people to abdicate the throne after ruling the country for more than 20 years. The February Revolution -- so named because Russia used the Julian calendar at the time -- broke out just four days before the czar abdicated his throne.

  • 1767: Our seventh president, Andrew Jackson, was born on this day somewhere between the Carolinas near the end of the colonial era. His exact place of birth is disputed.

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Valentine's Day 2018: 6 ways to eat for free or cheap

Published: Monday, February 12, 2018 @ 8:18 AM

Valentine’s Day Deals 2018

From flowers to a gift to dinner out, Valentine's Day can be an expensive holiday.

>> White Castle will offer romantic Valentine’s Day package, reservations again

To help you save some money, these restaurants are offering some cheap or free Valentine's Day meals.


If you're without a significant other this Valentine's Day – or even if you've found a new sweetie and want to score some free wings – participating Hooters locations will help you shred your ex. Shred online and print a coupon to take to the restaurant or bring in a photo of your former love and let Hooters shred it. In return, you can buy 10 boneless wings and get 10 free – and maybe a bit of catharsis. Learn more at www.hooters.com.

Fogo de Chão

If you make a reservation and dine at a participating Fogo's location anytime from Feb. 10 through Feb. 17, you'll be able to save on a return visit. You'll receive a complimentary churrasco dining card that you can use next time you're in the restaurant. (As is usually the case, "certain restrictions apply.") Learn more at http://fogodechao.com. 

Qdoba Mexican Eats

Take advantage of the restaurant's "Qdoba for a Kiss" promotion, and you'll be able to buy one entrée and get one free at participating restaurants on Feb. 14. Bring your significant other to kiss, smooch a photo of your favorite celebrity on your cellphone or even pucker up to a burrito – anything goes! 

On top of that sweet deal, from Feb. 6-28, if you share a kissing photo on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #QdobaForAKiss, Qdoba will donate $1 to No Kid HungryFor more information, visit www.qdoba.com.

Outback Steakhouse

Outback Steakhouse offers a Valentine's Day meal for two at participating restaurants from Feb. 12-16. For a special price (which varies by location), a couple can share a Bloomin' Onion, choose two entrees (center cut sirloin, grilled salmon or Alice Springs chicken), two sides, two salads and cheesecake for dessert. Learn more at www.outback.com.

California Pizza Kitchen

Enjoy a "Sweet Deal for Two" at participating California Pizza Kitchen locations from Feb. 14 to 18, and you'll get an appetizer, two entrees and a dessert from their special menu for $35. Choose from among three appetizers, 10 entrees or four desserts. As a further incentive, if you tag your sweetie or best friend in California Pizza Kitchen's Facebook post with the hashtag #CPKgiveaway, you'll be entered to win a $100 gift card. Learn more at www.cpk.com.

Waffle House 

Waffle House probably isn't the restaurant you think of when you're picturing a candlelit dinner with cloth napkins and tablecloths, but that's just what they're doing on Valentine's Day. You can enjoy alcohol-free champagne as the lights are dimmed, and choose from breakfast favorites or special offerings like ribeye and eggs. Many locations are participating, so check for your location's phone number and contact person for reservationsLearn more at ww.wafflehouse.com.

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List ranks best U.S. cities to get married

Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 @ 5:16 PM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 7:21 AM

A couple exchanges rings as they are wed during a group Valentine's day wedding at the National Croquet Center on February 14, 2014 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A couple exchanges rings as they are wed during a group Valentine's day wedding at the National Croquet Center on February 14, 2014 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Looking for a place to get married? A new study claims that there is a premiere wedding destination in our own backyard.

According to WalletHub, Orlando ranks as the top city for weddings in the United States, and Atlanta is right behind at third. The study looked at factors such as the average cost of a wedding, the number of wedding chapels, churches and bridal shops in an area and the area with the most attractions.

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WalletHub said its methodology involved comparing 15 U.S. cities in cost, activities and attractions and facilities and services.

Las Vegas lost its top spot in 2018, with Orlando now number one, and Sin City coming in at number 2.

Take a look at the rankings:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Las Vegas
  3. Atlanta
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Miami
  6. San Diego
  7. San Francisco
  8. Chicago
  9. New York
  10. Portland, Oregon

Austin, Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Knoxville, Tennessee and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, made the list at 11th, 19th, 23rd and 28th, respectively.

Other cities on the list include Spokane, Washington, 54th; Pittsburgh 35th, Seattle 12th, Tulsa, Oklahoma, No. 46th, and Memphis, Tennessee, 51st.

The full list ranking 182 cities can be found at WalletHub.

Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this story.

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