The Horror: Last time you encountered your eldest nephew he was a sticky-cheeked tween who treated you with wide-eyed reverence because you transformed his Optimus Prime and taught him the “pull-my-finger” trick. Sadly, that eager wee rascal has since devolved into a scowling teen grunter – a sighing eye-roll personified. Every time you find yourself alone with him your mind scrambles – frantically, futilely – to find any kind of conversational in-road.
How To Fix It: A few ribald tales about his parents’ BITD misbehaviours will soon crack that jaded exterior. Bonding trumps truth here, so feel free to entirely make up some eyebrow-raisers about how his mum used to make bongs out of old Spesh tins, or how his dad once burned a flat down by setting a Dutch oven alight. Of course you’ll need to keep raising the bar, revelations-wise, to hold his jaded adolescent attention, so by Boxing Day you’ll be committed to maintaining that his parents used to be GHB-glugging, human-trafficking scat pornographers.
The Horror: Adrift in that weird no-man’s land between present-opening and earliest-acceptable-boozing, you idly pick up your nephew’s tablet for a quick faff with that “Minecraft” game he’s always got his face buried in. Two absent-minded hours later and you realise you’ve constructed a house-sized penis-and-testes within his saved game and oh man oh man you cannot work out how to destroy it.
How To Fix It: Well, you’ve really only one option: sneak off to the spare room with your laptop and spend the next few hours frantically trawling Minecraft forums, quizzing nine-year-old lads on how they’d make your big genitals explode.
The Horror: The present-opening ceremony – performed in sigh-punctuated silence with your girlfriend’s parents – is going badly, with each gift adding another layer of disappointment and bitter grievance to the increasingly shivery atmosphere. You just opened a set of miniature chutneys with a best-before date of August 2014. Come on now.
How To Fix It: Halt this cringing debacle immediately by clearing your throat, rising to your feet and saving the day with a grandiose gesture that, six months from now, will be all anyone remembers about Christmas Morning 2015. Ask your girlfriend to marry you. Officially renounce the British pound. Declare your immediate conversion to a vampiric branch of rastafarianism. Anything to deflect attention away from that quarter-opened and already-discarded Minions loofah.
The Horror: Watching the Top Of The Pops Christmas Special after three too many proseccos you accidentally vocalise an extremely lascivious thought about Fleur East’s exposed midriff. Grabbing the baton, Nan leaps in with a racist epithet so esoteric that nobody’s used it since 1962. The living room’s collective sphincter constricts, spasms and mini-parps.
How To Fix It: Look, dear old Nan’s had a good innings, and you’ve still got so much to live for… so save yourself and throw her under that bus. Opt for a clutch-the-pearls gasp at her, followed by a stern-but-respectful lecture on the damaging legacy of insidious racism and the hateful language it comes cloaked in. Yes, you may have momentarily revealed a sordid and borderline warped side of yourself, but at least you didn’t just call someone a “funbo moonbear”.
The Horror: Your tightly wound cousin breaks an eerie three-hour silence to reveal his wincingly brutal solution to the refugee crisis. “Boom. Job done.”
How To Fix It: Tell him you’re going to demonstrate the problem with his somewhat oversimplified understanding of the situation using this tin of Quality Street. Imagine this upturned lid is Europe, you say. This Toffee Penny, that’s the Syrian government. This Noisette Triangle? The UN. This Orange Crunch? ISIS. These Strawberry Delights? Fleeing refugees. Vanilla Fudge? The global media. Press on with this epic and animated presentation for a further 50 to 80 minutes, shifting all the key players around, playing out scenarios both real and hypothetical, and constantly introducing new factors and protagonists (you’ll probably need to crack open the Celebrations, and maybe even commandeer Mum’s Guylians). None of it will make a brass bum-cheek of actual sense, but come the grand finale – which sees you smashing all the confections with a Little Mix mug – your cousin will have vowed to never, ever bring the subject up in your company again. Boom. Job done.
Words: Joe Madden
Illustrations: Ferry Gouw
An international festival of light