Family celebrations: no holds barred.

1 November 2023 by
Geneviève Smal
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The tree is magnificent, and this year it's a real success. The turkey gilds in the oven light, the glasses sparkle as we wait for the champagne, and my little black dress suits me perfectly.

For Christmas Eve, I accumulated clichés. My Christmas decoration looks like something out of a traditional decorating magazine.

But then, I'm sure I won't make any faux-pas. So I'm looking forward to an excellent evening with Jules, his parents and mine, my brother, his wife and their two children.

I'd love to love family celebrations, all the warmth shared, the memories evoked, the laughter, the humor that makes everyone laugh, so much so that it brings back memories of shared events.


In reality, my family's pretty rotten. My mom drinks too much, my dad makes corny jokes, Jules's parents are imbued with pretentiousness, my brother's a nincompoop, his wife's sarcastic, his teenage daughter's an "it's-all-about-me" type, and his kid praises his boogers.


And all these happy guests certainly find me shameless, outgoing, a mishmash of everything - in short, wild and uninviting.


And so we celebrate Christmas in a perfect atmosphere of hypocrisy, the evening punctuated by artificial smiles, feigned compliments, and forced kindness overflowing with red wine.

It's only around 11pm that the varnish starts to crack, just when you feel like taking your shoes off under the table and loosening your belt.

A stream of words held back all evening explodes like fireworks in the colors of forked tongues. 

I'm hit in the face by a wave of criticism camouflaged under a layer of compliments, reproaches cloaked in benevolence, of the kind to which it's difficult to react on pain of hearing the nauseating "it's for your own good!"

This is followed by some nice platitudes about women, gays, foreigners, the poor, the old, the disabled and, of course, wokism...

Once I've got past the urge to brush my teeth in front of everyone to show the guests that it's time to leave, I prepare myself for a proper riposte, worthy of the most eventful family celebrations.

I keep in mind that I want to maintain good relationships, that these are people I sometimes care about, but that it's out of the question to let myself be trampled like that.


Here are just a few examples of the spikes we received in a single evening, and some of the responses:


- Tidying up is never your strong suit.

- Oh, you know, Mother-in-law, my house is just like my sex life: a happy mess!


- You should think about cutting back on your work schedule.

- I'm thinking of reducing the number of bottles of Champagne for tonight, I think.


- I'd like to offer you a little make-up session at my beautician's, it would do you a world of good.

- Thank you very much, but I've never liked the circus.



- If you're coming home for New Year's Eve, don't bring any of that bad wine with you.

- "Who says bad wine at Christmas, says bad wine for New Year", French proverb!


- Today, I'm not saying anything about the ladies, because last time, she didn't take it well. It's amazing how touchy she is!

- The "lady" is likely to touch another glass of bad wine! 

Pass me the bottle!



- Even as a little girl, you wanted to do things differently from everyone else. What an idea to serve a fruit salad instead of a traditional log!

- It's so you can better keep your resolutions. Please say thank you.


- I don't know how Jules puts up with you!  

- Oh, you know, Mom, most of the time, I'm underneath.



- We live in a horrible country. Every year, I tell myself I'm going to move. But this time, it's worse!

- Hopefully, you won't be around next year to tell us.


- I hate turkey, have you forgotten?

- I like you though.


- Your place always smells a little strange.

- It's the smell of love and harmony, don't you know?


Well, I'm off to drown my acidity in a glass of sparkling water. We all love to hate each other. Our abysmal differences don't stop us from sharing gifts hidden under the tree, from smiling when we receive a book we'll never read or a useless massage accessory in a dubious color. These little gifts that we give each other, because it's the right thing to do, and that fall on deaf ears because we don't really know each other that well.


I happen to love these intolerant, uncompromising quasi-unknowns. But I thank Santa Claus from the bottom of my heart that I only get to see them once a year.


Happy Holidays,



in Blog
Geneviève Smal 1 November 2023
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