This is what I posted last year, just after the festive season ended.
1. Cut everything you eat by 50%
2. Cut everything you say by 50%
3. Remember that everything can be mended.
I managed to follow my own rules more or less. I cut what I might have first thought of putting on my plate by one-third on average, although overall because I didn't have ANY Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, or mince pies, it probably averaged at half. This meant that my digestive system kept to its normal schedule, and liverish discomfort, groaning intestines, did not cause bad temper.
I did try to limit what I would say. However, by the fourth day (my husband's relatives stay for five days, my ONLY relative stays for five hours -you can see my problem), my resolve was cracking.
My determination not to elaborate on any point was broken down by the fact that after four days, there is little left to talk about. I would rather have kept silent about my new job, (well new on 1st December 2009), and not put it out for dissection and criticism. However, in the face of relentless company, I described the not-for-profit organisation I work for, and how wonderful it is. My mother-in-law's immediate, and more or less only, comment, was: "But they ARE paying YOU?"
I felt sick. Why do I let myself fall for this family's incredible materialism, time after time? I am not exaggerating when I say that money is my mother-in-law's almost sole topic of conversation. If you come into a room where a conversation is already going on, it will almost always be about a divorce, some unreasonable ex-wife, a will, or house-prices.
This leads me to my third rule. "Keep thinking that everything can be mended." I was thinking about kettles, the outside tap, a flat car battery, when I wrote that down. But some wounds never heal. Her remark reminded me of the occasion when she sent a seven-year-old child's birthday card by second class post, and it did not arrive in time. Not everything can be mended.
This year: update
The relatives will arrive this evening. I will try to keep quiet and be polite.