Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Elizabeth Bevarly SquawkBlog: Family Holiday Survival Guide


Contest Today! Each day of Squawk Radio Week + a Day, one lucky commenting Bella wins a gorgeous Italian glass picture frame courtesy of the Squawk chicks.
I've only met Elizabeth Bevarly once, and I'll never forget the warmth with which she greeted me. It could be Southern charm, but I'm thinking she's just a very lovely person who's got it all and is happy to share her happiness with others.
Judging from her GuestBlog today, it's clear maybe, just maybe, my family isn't the only one that turns into a bunch of fruitcakes (or mixed nuts?) during the Season of Light/s. So, please, Bellas, a warm buongiorno for Miss Elizabeth...

My family, in lieu of gifts every Christmas, prefers to exchange grudges and petty differences. It’s a tradition that goes back generations. As kids, while my brothers and I were off from school for Christmas break and my father was still at work, my mom would sneak us off to visit my great aunt Sissy, making us swear not to tell Dad, because Aunt Sissy and my paternal grandmother hadn’t spoken to each other since 1948, after a bitter dispute over--wait for it--dish towels.

Over the years, I’ve gotten pretty good at orchestrating (okay, contriving) some creative ways to keep the peace on Earth in our holiday gatherings. (I gave up on the good will thing a long time ago.) Herewith, I give you some of my favorite tips for keeping the season merry and bright, when one’s relatives make that a tad challenging:

--Keep your expectations low at family gatherings. Remember when you were a kid and tried to dig a hole to China? That’s how low I’m talking.

--When [insert name of most annoying relative here] says you’re [insert least favorite adjective here], just remember that the polite response is, “I know you are, but what am I?”

--Never underestimate the power of a little Grand Marnier in the eggnog.

--When you feel yourself reaching your breaking point, get out of the house for a long walk. I actually do this before anyone even comes over. And, um, I don’t come back until they’re gone.

--Speaking of which, popping in a DVD of “Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas” will ensure early departures. By the time Charo breaks into “Feliz Navidad,” any stragglers will be hitting the door. Trust me. I KNOW.

Have a peaceful Holiday Season, everyone! (And if your family is like mine, don’t forget to hide the cutlery!)

Okay, I know I’m not the only one with difficult relatives. Who else has found some surefire ways for dealing with those little differences that can escalate to thermonuclear warfare during the holiday season? Are there any infamous disputes in your family that took years to iron out? Or were never ironed out? (My grandmother and Aunt Sissy both went to their graves without ever making amends.)


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74 comments:

PJ said...

Morning Liz!

Have you ever thought of putting your family (disguised of course) into one of your books? I swear it would be LMAO hysterical! Ok, maybe not so much if you're actually *in* the family but funny for the rest of us.

My mom's family was famous for their grudges. Never failed, every Christmas there would be somebody not speaking to somebody else. Of course, they'd all make nice for the big gathering at my grandparent's house but the silent *looks* could singe you if you didn't get out of the way. The cause of said grudges wasn't always clear but they could go on for ages and, like your family, some carried them right into the hereafter. My younger brothers and I swore we would escape the grudgefest and, so far, we've been successful. Our secret? I don't know. I like to think we've learned a valuable lesson from our elders but maybe it's just as simple as living in different states? Or maybe it's because I'm one of those perpetually perky, forgive and let live people who just refuses to stay mad. Yeah, I know, people like me just take all the fun out of fighting but, hey, *someone* has to be the nice one! (grin)

I've had the pleasure of meeting Liz in person and she's just as warm and welcoming (and funny) as she appears. She also has the most incredible music collection of anyone I know.

Merry Christmas Liz! Hope it's filled with all your favorite things - and plenty of Grand Marnier!

(((Hugs)))

PJ

Theresa N. said...

My problem has always been Aunts. I have two Aunts, one each side of the family (one on My Mom's and one on my Dad's)who are actually first cousins. These two ladies have hated each other since they were little kids. They live in different states hundreds of miles apart. They actually went shopping one time (separate of course) ended up in the same state, same store, same rack of clothes and neither one spoke to the other.

Maureen said...

My husband was remarking the other day on how my family gets along well at holiday gatherings. I told him it is all due to my mother. You know what she expects and none of us wants to upset her so I think we all monitor what we say. It also helps that there is no extended family there, just my parents, siblings and their families.

Laurie said...

My family is not close at all!
So we avoid arguments by not getting together. Pretty sad!!
My children are going to know that we want them to come home..any time!!

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Stacy~ said...

Hi Elizabeth, it's great to have you here. You'll fit right in with this group.

Our family went for years pretending to all get along, but now we're pretty much estranged from my mom's parents and brothers. Money was partially an issue, but of course there are always more skeletons in the closet that we immediately know about. I think that's why I'm more used to being on my own - growing up with the battles is tiresome, and sadly, there's no fun drama to look forward to every year. Fruitcakes, er, family, you gotta love 'em. Or if not, stay the hell away from 'em.

TiffinaC said...

Hi Elizabeth,

What a funny topic...Dish towels, eh? And I thought it was just my family that was a little strange.

Strangely enough the only holiday strangeness is when my fathers family all gets together. And lord help up if his mom is there...gramma is not exactly the cheeriest person. In fact, I think she was put into our lives to try to make us miserable [insert bulging eyeball emoticon]I'm serious! You wan't to dig your own grave if you are with her for extended periods of time! And then there are my dad's brothers and sisters (12 in total) Thank God I've never spent time with more than about 8 of them at a time! There is bound to be drunken revilry everytime...or wait..can't forget the fight they have everyyear...sometimes fists fly...not so much these days, but geeze it only took them into their late 40's to settle down!

Thank God my mother's family is normal, that's all I have to say! Tho my gramma on that side is a wee bit strange, and DONT touch the GRAVY for dinner unless you want to explain WHY IT's not the way GRAMMA makes it!

Okay, so none of my family is normal!

At least I'm Not alone! *g*

Stacy~ said...
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Stacy~ said...

Good Lord, Blogger went crazy LOL. I really didn't mean to post that many times - and it's not letting me delete them either. Sorry guys.

ms. mary said...

Oh Yes Liz,
Coming from an Italian family..(hi Michelle) there are many things flying around, and not just the pasta! My mom is the grudge queen (luckily, not me this week!) As you've said, I lay low, and am pretty vanilla in conversation..which is too bad. I envy those that have a real close relationship with their siblings (I'm an only) or parents..treasure it! Still looking forward to the visit, though. One good rule of thumb is shorter visits, after about 3-4 days, it's just too tempting to jump into the political/relgion boiling pot! cheers!!

Elizabeth Bevarly said...

Hi, everyone! Wow, Michelle, what a nice intro. Thank you. (And thanks, PJ, for backing her up. *G*) And thanks, too, for having me this week. :o)

Ah, glad to see I'm not alone in the family strife. PJ, I've often said that if I wrote a story about my family, it would shoot straight to number one on the NYT bestseller list. But the last thing I need is more people in the family not speaking to me. :o)

Stacy, no need to apologize for the extra posts. Anyone who's used blogger knows it gets possessed on a fairly regular basis.

I'm looking forward to chatting with everyone today!

ReadingAddict1 said...

When my maternal Grandma was alive she was able to keep the family together and in a sort of harmony, but now that she isn't here, my family is scattered all over and hardly ever gets together. I have one Aunt who has cut herself off completely from the rest of her 6 sisters over the smallest slights (oh didn't I mention that my Grandma had 12 children, LOL).

Don't get me started on my immediate family, as in my brothers :(

I would love to learn the secrets on dealing with difficult family. I'll check back later for more helpful ideas. :)

ashefrog said...

Ah...family and the holidays. What fond memories I have... Dad and his brothers drunk and brawling inside/outside didn't matter, wives trying to save the tree, china and whatever else was breakable - furniture (it took them into the late 40s also to slow down but never really settled), but by that time the male cousins had picked up the baton. Solution: Don't go at all or leave before the heavy drinking begins.

My husbands family, let's just say my FIL is the king of grudges in this family. He includes everyone he can: siblings, children, distant relatives. Maybe you bought a foreign made product that year, so you deserve to be tortured (literally). He has three children and there have been 5 weddings, he has managed to be on the outs with someone so he hasn't attended any for some lame excuse or another. My long suffering MIL has not seen any of her children marry. By the time my SIL got married (last wedding) for the second time to a man my FIL adored and he still managed to get out of going by saying he hadn't attended the others so he didn't think he should attend this one I finally realized he just didn't want to contribute any money towards these weddings.

His older brother was dying of bone cancer and they hadn't spoken in years. His dying request was to make amends with his brother (a grudge over something ridiculous) and my FIL refused to go see him.

He is now speaking to everyone left. I believe because he is old and trying to find a way into heaven after a life time of nastiness. But I have little use for him and only tolerate visits for the sake of my husband and children. Thank God we are hundreds of miles apart and I don't have to suffer his company too often.

CrystalG said...

My dad and his sisters didn't speak to each other for over 20 years because of an incident after my grandfather died. They do talk now.
Our family gatherings progress smoothly until my sister-in-law shows up. No one can get along with her and it is a real downer. We are happy when they skip family gatherings.

Julie in Ohio said...

Welcome, Liz!!! This is a topic near and dear to my heart.

My family has always been very close. Never a fight. Never a disagreement. The biggest prob we ever had was trying to get Grandma to sit down and enjoy the holiday with us. She is ever the perfect hostess.

When I married, I came into a family of strife. My mil's family is always at each others throats for one reason on another. We don't even see most of them anymore. My fil's fam used to be close until recently and now we don't see them anymore. It has been a learning experience for me. I still don't understand why brothers and sisters fight to the extent of not talking for years on end... :(

Ways of dealing: I really liked your Pee Wee's Playhouse suggestion.
I would like to add to the list spiking the egg nog with NyQuil. If they are sleepy, they will go home. If they don't go home, then at least they will be quiet and not able to fight. I have a few extra couches around... :o)

canadacole said...

What a great blog Elizabeth!

I guess I'm lucky because I come from a family that excels at denial. We don't fight or hold grudges, we just avoid potentially unpleasant topics. A LOOOOOOT of time spent sitting around discussing the weather, I can tell you! We're also getting a little better each year at gingerly probing a topic and backing off if someone says "I don't really want to talk about that with you".

As for my inlaws, I hit a gold mine where everyone gets along great!

Of course, my perspective may just be different because we moved several provinces away and see haven't seen everyone at once since a funeral 5 years ago. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder (and more tolerant) and I recommend it to everyone I meet (especially newlyweds!).

Anonymous said...

I kind of feel guilty here cause my husband and I are only children and our three daughters and their spouses get along. We get sick from laughing so much over the holidays.

The only "fly in the ointment" is our son's wife, who is foreign-born, bipolar and not medicated (well, I'm not a doctor but this is my diagnosis. It's much better than just thinking she's a b*tch). Whether she misinterprets things through language or emotional difficulties, we have to tiptoe around her. But they live far away and we don't usually see them at Christmas, so there is peace on earth. The girls do miss their brother, though, but we've all come to terms that our family is just slightly fractured. Jeez, now I'm pretty bummed out. But nobody has a family like the Waltons any more (if they ever did), especially if you watch reality TV! Maggie

ashefrog said...

I would like to mention my Mother's family. Both my parents were 1 of 5 children, yet my father and his brothers (5 boys) couldn't get along but I believe much of it had to do with alcohol consumption while my Mom's siblings got along great. Until recently when Grandma passed away and money became an issue. It was a BIL that started the trouble but now the sister is on the outs with her brothers and sister which has never happened before.

My grandparents would be so upset if they knew what was going on. I hope they are blissfully ignorant of this sorry affair.

We were raised to respect and love each other BECAUSE we were family. My Grandfather used the saying: "You can pick you friends, not your relatives" to teach us that in the end "Blood is thicker than water." So even when we have disputes we work them out, someone (usually both try to be the better person)would acknowledge either to agree to disagree and move on or concede the point of argument to the other person and move on.

Elizabeth Bevarly said...

Readingaddict, my dad seemed to be the glue in our family. It was after his death that my immediate family began to fracture. I'm still trying to figure out why. Interestingly, he was an only child, but his mother was one of seventeen, yet as kids, we almost never saw any part of that family. My mom's family, on the other hand, has always been very close, and very close to us. Her twin sister, in fact, is like a second mom to me.

Ashefrog, your in-laws sound like the family of a friend of mine. Her folks both can carry grudges like nobody's business, and for the dumbest reasons. And it's not just with family. Her dad stopped speaking to me after I published my first romance novel, because he doesn't approve. Some people I just can't figure out.

CrystalG, I have a s-i-l like that, too. Bleah. Like Julie, we've just gradually seen less and less of them over the years. (Though I like the Nyquil idea... *G*) And I, too, have one brother who barely speaks to me now. The other I get along with great, but the one is just distancing himself from the family more every year. Sigh.

Canadacole, denial was what kept my family harmonious the whole time I was growing up, something I didn't realize until I was well into my adult years. If something bothered us, we just didn't talk about it. Hmmm. Come to think of it, it was once we all started talking that we stopped speaking... :o)

Anonymous, you should never feel guilty for getting along! I totally envy families who are on good terms and get together often and actually enjoy each other's company. (And I didn't mean to bum you out!)

ev said...

Julie- they took the good stuff out of the NyQuil, so it doesn't make you sleepy anymore. Try the Tylenol Nighttime- it is still in there.

I guess I have been lucky with family. Usually the biggest arguement used to be to get my brother to take out the garbage while I was cooking. Now he stays home while mom comes to visit. He enjoys the peace and quiet (he has mom the rest of the year, so I don't blame him. It's one of my presents to him.)

When all my step-kids and spouses and grandkids are here, it is a zoo, but we all get alone. Even political discussions are actually funny- we are divided right down the middle as to how many Republicans and Democrates there are. When I have enough, I head for the kitchen, and my beer I stash. Mom, my daughter and I are the only ones who usually drink, so we have our own family tradition!! LOL

I never, ever thought I would say my family was normal. When my dad was still alive, food fights were not unknown, and he would always have too much to drink by the end of the day, but we didn't hold grudges. Thanks god since he is gone now but I do miss the food fights. Although the twin grandsons (20 months) will be here, so who knows, maybe they will start one!!!

Julie in Ohio said...

Thanks for the heads up, Ev. I might have gone out and gotten the wrong stuff... :o)

Connie Brockway said...

Hey, Liz. So THIS is where you've been! Geez, we leave the key in the henhouse door *one night* and wake up to find the bed still made, the toothbrush missing, and you gone.

My family gets along great! The secret is poker. Penny ante. It's a family tradition and it keeps peace all through dinner and desert and washing up becasue we are all highly competitve,focused, and committed to taking one another's cold hard pennies.

And a lot of tension can be dissipated by hurling your cards at your opponent if (when) you lose to his bluff.

flip said...

We don't have any great fights on my side of the family...no one can hold a grudge except for my mom. But on my husband side of the family, there has been a few horrendous fights. One year two sisters got into a shoving match at Thanksgiving. Since one sister was in a cast at the time, it was a bit unfair. When they were younger, a food fight has been known to break out during the holiday dinner. It was very upsetting for my mother-in-law, who is a sweetheart. Fortunately, a little separation eases the hurt feelings. They really do love each other and do have a lot of fun together. But one sister has learned to limit the amount of time she spends with the family. A get together ever few years is more than enough for her.

sharon said...

Hi Liz,
I do not speak nor communicate with my brother and sister at all. They do have a good relationship. The rift began after my Mother's sudden death and it went downhill from there. I believe that it cannot be mended due to their attitude and behavior towards me and it is better this way since trust is an issue as well. We are all older mature adults but that does not influence it at all. So I never see them and it will remain that way. Cannot say I miss it either.

alissa said...

Since my grandmother brought me up and raised me I have been taught my values from her. My father was an untrustworthy type whose word meant nothing so I don't have anything to do with him. It is as a young adult that I have made my accompishments and decision on my own and now am happily married. The past did affect me for many years but I have tried to ignore it now since I have a new life and a bright future.

ellie said...

When we have family gettogethers we are all on our best behavior. That way no one gets hurt or is offended, but it is all an act and we are glad when the event has ended and we can go back to our normal lives once again.

joelle said...

When I have to host a family event I just grin and bear it. Normally it goes smoothly and everyone behaves well which is great since these special times don't happen often. Sometimes family members don't show up which is nice too since that makes it easier for all of the rest of us to get along and relax.

Teresa Medeiros said...

I heard a funny tip on the news the other morning, Liz. If your family is unbearable at Christmas functions, pretend you're in a movie and they're not really your family :)

Gram said...

We have expectations for the Holidays that are set much too high. The family (and friends) are not going to be any better then than they are any other day.
I like the Grand Marnier idea, but it might be more useful straight just before they all arrive..LOL
Happy Holidays to youy all

Vivi Anna said...

Welcome Elizabeth to RBTB!! We're happy to have you here.

My family is extremely close, so there is never strife. We have learned long ago to forgive and forget. Forgive is the easy part of that equation...

I don't have any living grandparents, so its just me, my dd, my sister, her dd, her fiance and his kids, my mom and dad, my brother and his wife. And we always have a great holiday, full of fun, cheer and love.

Maybe it's because we're Canadian??????

amy*skf said...

My family and my husband's family vie for dysfunctional family of the year--how ever I think mione is more fun and his is more func...

Dr. Wayne Dyer has a good tip--would you rather be happy or right?
sometimes if you just nod your head and then walk away--to the beer stash--life is better. That's a good tip for me, who is always right. Ha!

Elizabeth, this explains why your books are so damn funny.

Christina Dodd said...

Hi, Liz! Great topic.

My sisters really don't get along, and one time my daughters were visiting Idaho on their own, went to dinner at one sister's, and watched them snarl and bitch at each other for three hours. My daughters called me to complain, and I said, "You girls remember that."

Let me tell you, people, it was the best thing that ever happened. There is nothing like having your kids SEE that kind of dysfunctional relationship at work to make them decide to really work on getting along. It was a turning point.

So you see? Fighting relatives can be useful as a bad example to your children.

robynl said...

Oh yes, an aunt(now deceased)who had a big mouth was furious one Christmas when one of my cousins dared come to the
family gathering with her two girls who had Chicken Pox. This aunt started in on how they should not be there, etc.
etc. and my other aunt(the hostess) was beyond herself not knowing what to say to either one. The cousin didn't know if they should stay or go. There was lots of whispering amongst the relatives over this.

Elizabeth Bevarly said...

Ev, I'm just the opposite--growing up, I thought I had the most normal, white bread family in the world. As an adult, I see so many problems. I know no family is perfect, but I do wish mine was better at forgiving and forgetting.

Aw, c'mon, Connie! At least I left a note! Unlike SOME chickens that shall remain nameless and just go off drinking with the crew of the Nimitz without telling anyone...

Sharon, I confess that my birthday and Thanksgiving were quite a bit less stressful this year with my brother's absence. :::shrug::: It's his thing. Whatever it is. I've given up trying to pretend there's nothing wrong there and just try to live and let live.

Actually, Terri, I've been doing that daily since I was about ten years old. ;o)

LOL, Gram. For a while, we actually were able to vacation every year as a family, renting a house together and getting along fine. Of course, we all also brought about three cases of wine per couple for the week...

Vivi Anna, I want to come to your house for Christmas this year. :o)

Thanks, Amy! It's funny, too, because family is always a big theme in my books. Not necessarily happy or dysfunctional or anything else, but it's definitely a strong theme. I never noticed it until someone pointed it out to me. I honestly--or at least consciously--never realized how heavily I was working the whole family thing into my books.

Interesting you bring this up, Christina, because for years we tried to gloss over the behaviors of certain family members with my son. Now that he's twelve, he knows what's what and can't believe how some people are. He and my husband and I are SO CLOSE, and I think it's because both I and my husband come from families that just aren't that close, and we're determined it's not going to be a tradition in OUR family--at least not the immediate one.

Cryna said...

I too am lucky enough not to have had strife at family get togethers, mind you we have a small family which could well be the explaination.

But I think if there was strife I loved the idea of going for a long walk and not coming back until all had left..............LOL

Welcome to the blog....

Anonymous said...

I loved your advice Elizabeth. I hope they were at least linen dish towels. Question - Do Chinese children try to did to the U.S.?

Cherie said...

I also am fortunate that we do not have strife during the holiday get togethers with my inlaws. Everyone is in a good mood and on their best behavior, especially the kids because Santa is coming. My family is small and very close so it is always a joy to be with them.

Cherie Japp

Jennifer Y. said...

I tend to either ignore or avoid difficult relatives. There are quite a few with bitter feelings toward each other.

Manuelita said...

Hi Liz! Funny blog!
I have this one cousin (A) and her family that I haven’t seen now for about 3 years. It turns out that her husband had been fooling around with another one of my cousins (B). Prior to that A and B had been very, very close, hanging out together all the time. Cousin B still attends family gatherings. The very first one was awkward, because the rest of us cousins didn’t know how we should act around her. Ignore her or continue on as if no scandal had occurred. We opted for the latter course. Cousin A refuses to go to family parties because she can’t stand to be near Cousin B. And for a while, Cousin A’s parents also didn’t go to family parties, but have since been showing up every now and again. So those are my “difficult” relatives. I don’t know if Cousins A and B will ever make up.

Michelle ~ You posted Tuesday’s winner. Where is Monday’s winner posted?

ashefrog said...

Thanksgiving week our family went on a cruise. It was a group thing I put together with extended family and friends (ages ranging from 2 to 81 and numbering 24). I was nervous about how things were going to go but now that it is all over, I can honestly say it was great.

I would suggest it for family reunions, holidays (not Xmas) and anniversaries (25, 50 etc..) There was so much to do on the ship that we ended up being smaller groups and only all got together for dinner. So it was less stressful and the time we did spend together was quality time.

Plus everyones' cabins were spread out on the ship except mine (of course). I had my 30ish godson and his girlfriend on one side and a couple who came along with them on the other side of us. But they proved to be hilarious neighbors and provided my husband and I will some very funny moments. And a lesson to never leave your cabin without your key. Once she was locked out because he had passed out(to many margaritas) while she went for food. And then while putting out their luggage on the last night, she was supposed to hold the door but somehow they both ended up in the hallway with their keys inside.

This kind of family time I would do again. But being stuck in a house together for hours just might have to wait.

J Perry Stone said...

I get up early to meditate....and if that doesn't work, I start drinking by 3 PM.

Three words usually set me off: "Julianne, you're getting prickly, you're shrieking, or you're being a little General."

Prickly, shrieking, and General...OH!!!!!!!!

Usually it's my mom and dad's meddling with my parenting that utzed me and turns me prickly...that, or my sister with her dramas (and her not taking my wise advice on how to get out of the endless dramas that absorb every flippin' holiday).

I'M MAD RIGHT NOW AND THEY HAVEN'T EVEN GOTTEN HERE YET!

orannia said...

Heheheh - your family sound just like mine :) My trick is to keep busy. As the official chief bottle washer (I've never promoted to top dog as my brother and sister-in-law are chefs - there's no way I can beat that :) I just race around doing things. 'Sorry X I can't chat as I have to count the number of peanuts'. It works very well!

orannia

pearl said...

During family dinners that occurred when we were younger it was tense and unpleasant due to my brother's presence. He is obnoxious and difficult to get along with, a total know it all and loud. Now that he is out of the picture and never shows up thing shave improved quite a bit. But there is still my sister who has her attitude and her superior ways which totally turn me off. That is more than enough to contend with. She is so totally unaware of her faults and foibles that it is am using to say the least.

traveler said...

We had a large family gathering at our home one year and we were so looking forward to it. Unfortunately my self centred niece who had no regard for anyone but herself ruined the entire evening. She was anti-social and spoiled and did not want to be there. Nturally her other catered to her and still does. What a total loss. She is still a selfish adult with no concept of how to behave. Any wonder!

Elizabeth Bevarly said...

Anonymous, I've often wondered that myself! Love the cruise idea, Ashefrog. But then, I love cruising for any reason. :o) And busyness, Orannia. I'm writing that down.

Okay, J, step away from the computer. And go straight to the liquor cabinet/wine cellar/medicine chest/yoga studio/all of the above. :o) (If you hurry, you'll find me there, too. *G*)

I am deeply envious of those of you with happy families. And I am massively commiserating with the rest of you. Gee, maybe we should all get together and have our OWN holiday this year...

J Perry Stone said...

Oh LIZ, wouldn't we have fun?? 'cept I'm afraid we'd be lit more often than the x-mas tree.

ev said...

I think we should all meet at the liquor cabinet. I will be there by Xmas Eve.

Julianne- I hear the same comments all the time. I finally told them if they didn't like it to do it themselves. So far, no one has volunteered. Big surprise.

I go on a cruise to escape everyone but hubby. LOL

Anonymous said...

I've read a good number of Liz's books and they're funny as hell.

As for family -- mine gets along. It's the DH's family that we have the problems with. The sisty uglers started fighting over their mother's stuff when she moved to a retirement home. The DH had to remind them to stop, cause (1) she wasn't dead and (2) she was right there listening to them bicker over dishes and glassware. And it hasn't stopped. They want to know how much money she has so they'll know how much they're going to inherit.

Sick, sick, sick! The DH hopes she goes through every dime and dies penniless so the sisty uglers get nada. He just wants his mama to be comfortable in her old age and spend what she needs to do so.

Selena

joy said...

Elizabeth,

Girl, you need to take your material on the road as a stand-up, lol, or better yet, please put it in a book!

I certainly can relate to all the high drama at holiday time, but our family problems (I think, oh happy dance) have been solved with a couple of timely divorces in the clan. The folks involved are now remarried, and so far things are "normal" - whatever that means. LOL

Thanks for providing some great laughs today.

Joy

Playground Monitor said...

Oh wow! Liz Bevarly. I fell in love with her writing when she still wrote for Desire and have read several of her single titles. So funny, she is! And she's so charming in person too.

My family gets along well, but we're a small bunch. My husband's family, however, has problems and he's currently estranged from his sisters. Had to snicker at Selena calling them sisty uglers. Why do families argue over STUFF? Stuff isn't important, but people are.

And LOL over watching Pee Wee and replying "I know you are, but what am I?" My husband still thinks I'm wacky cause I love PeeWee's Big Adventure.

Marilyn

Estella said...

Our family has had some spats, but never anything that caused anyone not to speak to the other for years.

Brandy said...

I just keep quiet, wait till we get home and complain loudly to my Dh. He must love me, because it's his family that drives me batty. Oh, and a fued that was sort of started this year? When it was fond hat DH's father had to have surgery on a blockage for his heart, his sister set up specific days he was supposed to go by and do yardwork. When I say specific, I mean things like tuesday the 3rd specific. It didn't phase her that Dh work on a different type of schedule than hers and that wednesdays were better. She told him to do it tuesdays. *sigh* Doesn't sound like much right? Yeah, then she made a comment to Dh about how not to mention all this to me, because they needed to keep it in the family. Um, hi? We've been married for almost 14 years and together for almost 16 years. Nice to know that after all this time, I'm not family. Won't this just be a fun Christmas.

Julie in Ohio said...

Has anyone thought of locking the doors, turning off the lights and shutting off the phones?

No mess. No fuss. No fights...

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Ciao, Elizabeth and Bellas! It's so nice to meet new friends, too! Thanks for coming by.

The only fly in your holiday ointment as I see it, Ebeth, is that among my family is that once Pee Wee is on, you'd have to shove them out the door kicking and screaming.

You know, I'm not surprized to see everyone's opening up about family stuff, because places like Squawk Radio and RBtheBlog are the perfect places to do so. Nobody judges, and most of us are smart enough not to let our families know we hang here.

I'm pretty honored -- and I'm sure Elizabeth and the Squawkers feel the same -- by the trust you put in us when you come to our blogs to talk about how you feel. Or make us laugh, which is, like, the most fun part of this thing. :)

Of course, I've got to be careful, cause many of my family members lurk here often.

But on this topic, I will say that there's nothing like the holidays or a funeral to tear families apart. Perfectly reasonable people can't show or exhibit grief appropriately (whether over loss of a loved one or bitterness that they never got the damn bike they wanted from Santa when they were seven), so they pick fights and make their misery everyone elses.

Among my three brothers and me, there used to be a lot of jockying for position of being "Mom's Favorite." Now that I'm older and wiser, I encourage my brother Jeff to have the honor, and I lobby for him with my mother.

I've finally learned that self-preservation is the key to, if not happiness, then tolerance And that's what I hear a lot of you saying as you describe the "zany antics" (this is a romance blog, so let's use euphemism, shall we?) you watch among your families...

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Ouch, brandi. That so sounds like something my mom might say. But don't tell her I said it.

But while we're at it, don't you (or anyone) hate being a family go-between? My family was always big on using me in that way. Is it cause I'm the "baby," or just because I'm a pushover?

julieO, can't do that Halloween and Christmas, can you?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

that's brandy. sorry.

Playground Monitor said...

Oh... and I took Eloisa's advice and bought me some pretty new panties. Looked for a bra but just couldn't find anything that was right.

And... I've been looking for a new purse. Found an $85 Nine West purse on sale for (drumroll please) $16! Slipped it (and the panties) right in with the Christmas purchases. Merry Christmas to ME!

Marilyn

Sue A. said...

I find in order to hold onto feelings of Peace and Good Will sometimes it is just better to avoid extended family gatherings and just keep to immediate family.

Wishing everybody "Peace and Good Will" this holiday season!

BarbaraE said...

My goodness I'm glad I have a happy family that gets along. My adult sons are good friends with each other, my sis and I teach in the same building (for the last 20 years!) and are best friends; all the nieces and nephews get along, as do the spouses, and even my parents, who divorced 30 years ago, are pleasant with one another. I am SO grateful. It's all due to my mom, who taught us that families need to stick together and take care of one another. She's always tried so hard to not play favorites (even trying to spend the same $ on each kid and grandkid at Christmas! I didn't realize I was so lucky until tonight. Thanks Mom. I'll be glad to share our Christmas with anyone - ya'll come on down to Texas!

principessa said...

Our family does get along well with each other. We don't see each other often but on the holidays we are genuinely happy to get together and spend time celebrating with the youngsters and the elders. This is what the holidays should be about and it is important to retain these important traditions since life is short.

Julie in Ohio said...

Michelle-- You can do that whenever the occasion calls for it.
From what I'm reading, I think it's time to take drastic measures. hmmm, some of you may want to buy reinforced locks along with a few dead bolts... :P

catslady said...

We rarely voice our differences out loud so we all just hold grudges - and my answer is cabernet savignon lol.

froggie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
froggie said...

Liz, now what a can of worms you've openned up!

For YEARS my family was divided into camps over an incident that involved my eldest brother and one of my sisters. He was having all of us for Xmas one year and she wanted to invite her mother-in-law, but we're not at all into mixing families and my brother said NO! Resentment insued and words that should have been kept deep inside were let out... It ended up being turned into a 'I feel like you don't accept me as a gay man/You don't accept that I got remarried and want my husband's family to celebrate with me' all out brawl.

Sadly the other siblings decided to take sides, even my parents supported my brother and my sister was ostricised. She was left out of many many family events and even though my parents and sister have made up, there are others who still stick to their convictions.

Last April when my father turned 80, there was a big get together and for the first time since that infamous Xmas, the whole family was reunited. I'm not telling you she was welcomed with openned arms, but there was no hair pulling or eye scratching! Gotta love Family... Like the saying goes: you can chose your friends, but not your family

ev said...

Brandy- So only buy presents for "family" and tell her that you have changed how you do things this year.

Julie- We also threaten to change the color of the house and hide the number in hopes they all get lost.

marilyn- I always find something to add to the Christmas shopping just for me. LOL

Barbarae- which airport do i head for???

If it weren't for family, where would authors actually find funny things to write about??

Elizabeth Bevarly said...

Whoa, sorry to disappear. I had to surrender the 'puter to the son and husband when they came home from school. I hate when that happens.

And, J, your point would be...? ;o)

Selena and Marilyn, many thanks for the kind words. I'm so glad you've enjoyed the books. :o) I love PeeWee, too, Marilyn. My hubby and I used to watch him on Saturday mornings, and we didn't even have kids then. Now the Playhouse Christmas DVD is required viewing every Christmas by my son. (We love him, too, Michelle, unlike the rest of my family. Hence some of the tension. *G*)

Hi, Joy. Some timely divorces would be welcome in my family, too. Unfortunately, I can't divorce the relatives I'd most like to divorce. ;o)

Brandy, my husband and I have been married twenty years, and although I kept my name legally after marrying, and they all know it, we still get Christmas cards addressed to us both with my husband's last name, every freakin' year. It's like they just have their own reality about stuff. I like Ev's suggestion.

Julie in OH and Sue A, you are Very Wise.

Barbararae, I wanna come to your house, too.

Froggie, it sounds like your family is on the road to recovery. There's a lot to be said for that.

Michelle! Bella! Thank you again for the lovely invitation to blog with you and yours today. It's been SO much fun. And such wise words you offer. No wonder you're so popular in this bidness. :o) I echo everything you said in your post. In my almost two decades in the romance writing business, I have marveled at the amazing community of people who flock to the genre.

You guys have been so nice today. You make me feel like I've found a new family. :o) Thanks to all for the nice words and commiseration. Those of you who have families that get along and have fun, embrace and enjoy them. Those of you who, like me, will be a bit challenged in that department this year, well... Take a lot of walks. Sip the Grand Marnier. Hide the cutlery. And just know that you're not alone.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Santa said...

Family problems? What family problems?

We all get along...all the time....everywhere we go!

Whether it's that REALLY small house in the Poconos, Easter dinner at my house where certain people from my DH's family disappear rather then converse with my family, or just because a 1991 Mondavi Opus was chugged from the same glass that held Carlo Rossi wine.

Or that I slaved hours preparing gourmet dishes for my daughter's communion party only to have my s-i-l say that she and her mother were THREE *&^$%in' hours late (yes,I'm an idiot and held dinner for them) because they stopped at RED *&*%IN' LOBSTER for apps and cocktails and, you know, they just weren't that hungry anymore. NOT HUNGREY?! Somebody hold these women down while I get my industrial sized ladle!!

Hold on, I didn't shove any food down their gullet! I just told my s-i-l to stay FAR, FAR away from me for the rest of the night.

Families? Can't live with 'em, can't live without them, can't get a contract out on them because there's nowhere to hide the bodies!

RDCICON said...

It's sad really how our family has split but that's in the past - I don't bear grudges and we pretty much just ignore each other which suits me fine. I'd rather spend my life with people who appreciate and who have a positive outlook. Me mom & sis are tight and luckily enough we have very close friends who fill up the sadness now. Its a pity you can't choose your family like you do your friends.

ReadingAddict1 said...

I read a book a few yrs back called "Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life" by Dr. Susan Forward.

The best message I got out of the book was 'letting go and getting on with your life' and if all else fails just avoid the toxic person because you can't change them and they probably won't change themselves. I apply that to all of my relationships now and it's made my life a lot less stressful.

Happy Holidays everyone, Wanda =^..^=

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I'm SO there with you on that one, readingaddict1. Only prob has been, those people are all like: hey, why's she not talking to us any more? She's such a [snob, b*tch, crazy person...] Although I find that easier to deal with than the constant stress of that "toxicity" you mention. It's really incidious and energy-sapping.

Grazie mille, Elizabeth, for offering us a chance to let off some steam about this stuff before the holidays. I'm very glad everyone feels safe enough here to share her/his story, and really respect you for your openness. Plus, it's been fun to have a laugh over the silly stuff you've shared, too.

New friends, well-known Bellas, please come back any time for fun. And, well, you know, to entertain me. Cause that's what it's all about, in'it? Me?

Elizabeth Bevarly said...

Santa, I bet I could find a place to hide the bodies... ;o)

Michelle, bellas all, thank you all so much for the warm welcome and fun chuckles. I've had a blast!

And a final toast for the holidays: May everyone have a peaceful, happy holiday with the ones who mean the most to you. Cheers!