This in particular from Narcissists Suck:
Whether the narcissist uses the holidays to grandstand or to poop on everyone’s parade they are like ants at the picnic. No, they are like wasps at the picnic. Threatening discomfort just by their hovering presence and getting their stings in when you least expect it.
Do not allow the narcissist (or his side-kicks) to run you, make you into a servant, or use you as a primary source of supply during the holiday. Be willing and prepared to leave the moment things turn ugly. That assumes, of course, you’re smart enough at this point to not actually be the host to family gatherings. Hopefully you know enough going into this holiday season to realize that putting on gala holiday events in your own home is just begging for some narcissist to kick you in the teeth. Hosting holidays with narcissists is an invitation they find irresistible to shove your generosity, your thoughtfulness, and your hours of labor right up your ass. Don’t be a sap. Don’t set yourself up as such an easy target. Either go to the narcissist’s home, another family member’s home or a restaurant.
My parents split less than 3 weeks before Christmas. Prior to that, there were often arguments around Christmas. One was so bad, that my father took us to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind on Christmas Eve to get us out of the house. There was the Christmas we came home to my mother passed out from drinking because she decided to stay home and drink by herself instead of go to any of the gatherings she was invited to. I was 12 or 13 and my brother was 9 or 10. Then a few years later, the New Year’s where she passed out and when I went to make macaroni & cheese for dinner, her boyfriend felt badly for us & took us out to Wendys for dinner. Or the New Year’s Eve when I was 14 and my dad tried to teach me to do tequila shots. The adults all ended up falling asleep/passing out and I since I’d been put in charge of the younger kids and they wouldn’t go to sleep, I made them breakfast around 7am.
As an adult, in either my late 20s or early 30s, there was the family gathering right after New Year’s when I walked on eggshells because the night before, I went to eat a sandwich that was part of a New Year’s Eve hero platter and it had some sandwich slime (had been sitting too long) which didn’t taste right, so I threw it out. My mother planned to serve the leftovers of the hero platter to relatives who were coming over in lieu of my stepdad going for some bbq food (they live in a warm climate). I was torn. I knew telling her was likely to provoke anger at me. But, I didn’t want anyone getting sick. I tried putting myself in my mom’s shoes. I would be embarassed to serve food which wasn’t that edible or worse yet, spoiled, to people. I would want to know why there was still time to fix the problem. So I tried channeling my inner diplomat and told her as nicely as I could, “mom, you may want to check the hero platter, I had one last night and it tasted a little bit off. (I left out the part about throwing it out, trying to avoid the inevitable rage)” She replied, “oh, we’ll just throw them all out and waste food” with that glare in her eyes and anger in her voice. My stepdad went to the kitchen to check on them and apparently even the dogs wouldn’t eat the leftovers. So he came back and let her know that and made some jokes about making a sculpture out of them. My brother chimed in with some jokes and they were able to calm her down.
There is also the last Christmas I spent with my mom/stepdad and brother. If I’m remember it correctly, it was Christmas 2004. My brother was preparing for a criminal trial and we ended up discussing details of the private investigator’s findings, etc. Having to pay for legal costs, etc. left my brother unable to buy anything for my mom/stepdad and he felt badly about it. So I asked him if he’d like to sign the cards I had and we’d say they were from both of us. His spirit lifted a bit. Christmas Eve we watched tv and my mother made a big point of saying how all of my brothers commentary on shows, etc. was funny and added to the experience. She’s not a MST3K fan, but I think that’s along the lines of what she meant. I made one comment and I was shhhed. Yep, a grown woman, pushing 40 at the time, shhed.
Christmas morning, we opened the presents. My mother’s response to the joint gift was to point out that she knew my brother couldn’t afford to chip in, so it was obviously just from me. But it didn’t matter, because she had the best gift she could have, her son was home. Note the omission of the daughter. Here I was trying to make my brother feel better, maybe make my mom & step dad feel better that it was from both of us. Not only did she have to, as Anna Valerious put it, “poop” all over that, she had to remind me that my brother was more important and valuable to her. It was 5 more years until we severed contact, but I vowed then & there not to spend another Christmas with her.
I had already spent some Christmases away from her due to our first estrangement in the 90s. And even after we reconciled, I didn’t go to her home every year. I noticed the contrast in the Christmases with her and the Christmases elsewhere. They were merrier, they were more joyful and I didn’t feel horrible after them.
I find Christmas brings up a whole host of feelings for me. On the difficult side, there are the bad memories, the feeling of feeling left out from the togetherness and joy I wish it had been for me and my family. But I have been working on developing happier memories of it. I spend Christmas Eve with one of my friends and her family. Christmas Day is with my great aunt and her sons, along with my mom’s sister who also seems to have issues and my mom’s cousin who also seems to have issues. But I’m not going to let them keep me away from my great aunt and her sons.
New Year’s Eve/Day is with the same friend and her family that I spend Christmas Eve with. Last year, I spent New Year’s Day with a couple of family members who can be very difficult (one is also a staple at Thanksgiving and Christmas Day) and I decided that opting out of New Year’s Day was an option for me. I could still spend Thanksgiving & Christmas Day.
I also don’t focus so much on the one “day” of the holiday. I try to make plans to keep busy with friends throughout the season, which helps a lot. And enjoy the little delights. For example, I love the lights! I find this helps as well. I watch “Home for the Holidays” and “Christmas Vacation” each year as the dysfunction there is funnier than in real life! 🙂
Wishing everyone Peace & Joy this holiday season!