Ella Braidwood suffered so you don’t have to…


Christmas can be a stressful time. It is a well-rehearsed, theatrical production. You return home to your family where – in between Terry’s Chocolate Oranges and marzipan-topped fruit cake – you are conditioned to collectively emit an aura of concord. Family problems are well-wrapped presents buried at the bottom of the pile below the Christmas tree. Here are my seven top tips for making it through.

1. Space hoppers smashing wine glasses

I know what you’re thinking -“What an unlikely scenario!” – but this did happen to me. And, if you don’t just sit down and listen, it could happen to you too. Do not gift your relatives with a space hopper. If you are gifted one yourself, place it carefully outside. If you don’t, a space hopper will collide with your back as you play The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army on the piano, only to rebound and smash five strategically placed crystal wineglasses. You have been warned.

2. Pine needle-encrusted carpets 

Two words: thick socks. At Christmas time, it is common practice to place a pine tree in one’s living room. But watch out! Pine trees are inherently evil. Like the *anonymous* Middle Eastern countries being bombed by *anonymous* governments, the pine tree will shower your carpet with lethal weaponry that will pierce your soft soles. So, make sure you wear thick socks.

3. Wrap unwanted brussell sprouts in napkins

My brother pioneered this technique. Finding the tiny green cabbages repugnant, one Christmas he decided to surreptitiously wrap his uneaten sprouts in his napkin before politely excusing himself and flushing them down the toilet. Mischief managed. 

4. Say “no” to the chocolate breakfast

When you emerge on that chilly Christmas morning to create the Snowdon of Sainsbury’s wrapping paper, one gift will be ubiquitous. Chocolate. And it will look you in the eye. It will flaunt itself in the morning sunlight, a shimmering silhouette of lustrous beauty, dancing to Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely. But don’t eat it. Come Christmas dinner, when you can’t stomach bacon-wrapped sausages, you will regret it.

5. Only pray if you want to

I go to church on Christmas Day out of respect for my Protestant upbringing; however if you don’t want to go then don’t. If you do go, only participate in the prayers if you feel comfortable. No-one, but like-minded others, will notice your parted hands and eyes wide open. 

6. Eat all the food and get boozy

Quit thinking about your weight. It’s Christmas. Drink as much booze as you can and dance around the living room with a stocking on your head. Likewise, stuff yourself to the brim with food. Come New Year, the resolutions will be upon us and that’s no fun for anyone.

7. Lastly, relax

Stop worrying so much. Don’t feel tense about the planning or the prolonged periods of family time. Just enjoy it. You might not see your family for months afterwards, so make the most of your time together. If you’re bringing a partner home with you, all you have to do is remember that family love is unconditional. Your family love you whatever, silly. 


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