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."

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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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Celebrate Father's Day with these 10 so-bad-they're-good dad jokes

Published: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 9:01 AM

Father's Day - By the Numbers

Happy Father's Day!

>> Father's Day 2018: Where can dad eat free, get a discount on meals?

Twitter users around the world are using the hashtags #DadJokes and #FunnyThingsDadsSay to celebrate their dads with baffling wisecracks and head-scratching words of wisdom.

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>> Read more trending news 

Check out 10 of the best-worst jokes below:

1. "I've always had an irrational fear of speed bumps. But don't worry, I'm slowly getting over it." – @DaddingAround

2. "Why did the coffee go to the police? It got mugged." – @NPR

3. "It's not a dad bod. It's a father figure." – @chrismakespuns

4. "Was going to go to the new restaurant in space. Heard their food is great, but there is no atmosphere." – @MatBest11x

5. "Two peanuts were walking down the street. One was a salted." – @Fawcett_Matt

6. "If a short person waves at you, is it a microwave?" – @First_Jimothy

7. "I knew a guy who was addicted to drinking brake fluid. He said he could stop anytime." – @HouseofBoodles

8. "How do you find Will Smith in the snow? Look for the fresh prints!!!!" – @ProducerEddie

9. "That cow is amazing. ... She's outstanding in her field." – @GuyMcPerson309

10. "You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose." – @Johnsense38

Father’s Day 2018 Deals and Freebies

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Twins born Memorial Day weekend celebrate 'cookout style' in adorable costumes

Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2018 @ 7:22 AM

Twins Born Memorial Day Weekend Celebrate "Cookout Style"

Twins born at Pittsburgh's Washington Health System Washington Hospital over Memorial Day weekend were dressed to impress.

>> See the photo here

Posted by Washington Health System on Tuesday, May 29, 2018

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

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The hospital wrote on Facebook: "We know everyone was honoring the brave men and women that have served and sacrificed for our country on Memorial Day with cookouts and spending time with family. Even our newborns were celebrating 'cookout style' over the weekend!"

>> See the full post here

We know everyone was honoring the brave men and women that have served and sacrificed for our country on Memorial Day...

Posted by Washington Health System on Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Read the original story here.

Soldier Gets To See Family For Memorial Day Weekend Thanks To Stranger’s Kindness

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How not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Published: Monday, April 30, 2018 @ 6:40 PM
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2018 @ 6:40 PM

Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is Saturday, and before everyone gets ready for happy hours and parties, it helps to go in with a plan.

>> Read more trending stories

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There are plenty of ways to celebrate the day, which commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5 1862, during the French-Mexican war.

Make sure you do not do any of the following:

Dress up in sombreros and fake mustaches

There is no need to "dress up" for this day, but if you do, do not wear a sombrero, mariachi suit, serape, fake mustache or anything of the sort if you are not a member of that culture. Those things have historical and cultural significance, and donning them just for a day caricatures and stereotypes people. That's not fun.

Go out and get drunk

There is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation and doing it socially, but responsibility is key. What is the use in celebrating a day if you get sick or can't remember it?

Make English words Spanish by adding an "o" on the end

Not only does it not make any sense, but by doing this, it makes fun of another language and turns it into a joke. The same goes for plays on the holiday name, so no parties or themes like "Cinco de Drinko."

You can make a margarita cupcake or a fun cocktail, or have dinner at a family-owned Mexican restaurant. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo without doing any of the three above.

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How not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Published: Tuesday, May 01, 2018 @ 9:15 AM

Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is Saturday, and before everyone gets ready for happy hours and parties, it helps to go in with a plan.

>> Read more trending stories

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the day, which commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5 1862, during the French-Mexican war.

Content Continues Below

Make sure you do not do any of the following:

Dress up in sombreros and fake mustaches

There is no need to "dress up" for this day, but if you do, do not wear a sombrero, mariachi suit, serape, fake mustache or anything of the sort if you are not a member of that culture. Those things have historical and cultural significance, and donning them just for a day caricatures and stereotypes people. That's not fun.

Go out and get drunk

There is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation and doing it socially, but responsibility is key. What is the use in celebrating a day if you get sick or can't remember it?

Make English words Spanish by adding an "o" on the end

Not only does it not make any sense, but by doing this, it makes fun of another language and turns it into a joke. The same goes for plays on the holiday name, so no parties or themes like "Cinco de Drinko."

You can make a margarita cupcake or a fun cocktail, or have dinner at a family-owned Mexican restaurant. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo without doing any of the three above.

Trending - Most Read Stories