Dysfunctional Family

Survival Kit for the Holidaze



The Holidaze are sneaking up on us more rapid than eagles their coursers they came. Let’s whistle, and shout, and call them by name! An Opportunity for Family Dysfunction.


 Holidays are filled with cheer, generosity, creativity, love and nostalgia. And I’m not saying everyone has it, 
buuuuut JUST in case you experience ANY discomfort in the sphere of family, here’s the updated version of my 
tongue-in-cheek and yet possibly useful dysfunctional family survival kit:


Do you regress as soon as you return home and a family member simply gives you a funny look? Do you think every year that THIS year will finally be the one where you don’t turn into a bowl of weepy cranberry sauce with a garnish of pitiful?

Here are six creative survival tips gathered from extensive studies from the Muse is IN laboratory where empirical results were extracted from subjects all over the world… or from my mind, um, I forget which. 


1.) Pretend like you are spending the holiday with the family of a friend of yours. It can provide necessary distance and perhaps even seem entertaining. Or, along the same lines, make believe you are a filmmaker shooting a documentary of a fascinating family or filming the sequel to August: Osage County.

Too hard to get your mind around that? How about being just five percent more detached from the drama? Going for 100 percent is usually unrealistic and you end up eating too much pecan pie instead. Try wearing a disguise: a director’s beret, a pair of those glasses with the big nose, or a turkey—keep a straight face.


2.) Whenever a family member pushes one of, you know, those BUTTONS, saying that thing or behaving that way that drives you crazy, making you FORGET every gain you’ve paid for in therapy, have an automatic response.

Suggested Responses:
Say to yourself, “Well, bless their heart!” (Southern accents are particularly helpful here.) This tends to neutralize your own reaction by putting you in a mint julep state of mind.
Think to yourself, “My bodyguard will be here in a minute.” Imagine being able to hand your feelings over to your bodyguard and pay no mind to the offending party—‘cuz things will be taken care of. This will give you time to pull yourself together and go see a movie versus responding with something you’ll later regret.
If you can’t avoid incoming verbal torment, brush it off your body as if it were cat hair, cookie crumbs or gnats. (Use a lint roller for special effect and even consider waving it while the offending party is talking, as if catching the debris before it lands on your mild demeanor).
If they push all your sensitive buttons, while they are doing it, stare just above their eyes in the middle of their forehead with a blank expression on your face. Stay in that position 15 minutes after they’ve finished.
When they are speaking, DUCK down as if dodging their verbal fire as it flies over you, sparing you any reason to be anything other than Audrey Hepburn-like, or if you are a male, Cary Grant-like.
Just talk at the same time they are talking but replace their words with ones you’d like to hear instead. Do this without hesitating EVERY TIME they speak (even if they are speaking to someone else). Plan all the compliments you’d like to hear ahead of time.


3.) Know that you are blessed because it’s all fodder for writing and those of us with challenging families are amazingly creative sometimes BECAUSE of that.

4.) Spend the holidays with someone else or visit a friend in the hospital. Life is short. 

5.) If any of these suggestions made you laugh or were otherwise helpful, just bring them to mind during trying moments and then remember the remarkable amount of blessings we have in this life, including our creative minds, the miracles of nature, art, music, shooting stars, human resilience and pumpkin pie.

6.) And if all of that doesn’t work, just squirt whipped cream in your mouth straight from the can. 

Jill Badonsky, M.Ed., is founder of the Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching Certification Training, and author/illustrator of The Awe-manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder, The Muse is In: An Owner’s Manual to Your Creativity and The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard).  Find her at www.themuseisin.com or www.kaizenmuse.com


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