How to ‘Shut Down Your Stalker’ at Holiday Dinners…..

Get ready for the Ghost of Holidays Yet to Come, Better Known as “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” (Hint:  Your Nemesis)
Here’s my time-tested answer to their nastiness…Feel free to give us your own suggestions, too.  We’re all in this together.
 Oh, you know who I mean…the sister-in-law who has you in her sights and then always says hurtful things under the guise of interest and innocence. Last year she sat next to you at the holiday dinner table and said “Oh, Shirley, have you lost weight?” knowing full well that, if anything, you’d gained.

I mean: “What normal person does that?”

She makes your teeth rattle, as you decide (1.) “Should I go for her jugular and rip her to shreds for all time?” (so she’ll never dare do this again, and forever leave me alone,) or (2) smile sweetly and simply say: “Oh, how nice of you to notice…I thought no one would.” Then help yourself to another couple of rolls, slathering them with gobs of butter.

She‘s already turned down these carbo delights because she‘s always had what you lack in this department: a mother load of self-discipline (altho‘, deep-down, you believe she‘s anorexic, probably purging during the night.)

She brings up the topic of weight each and every time there’s a social gathering because everyone’s weight (at least, the women’s) is near and dear to her heart. You see, she’s controlled hers steadily all these years, still wearing that size 4 suit/dress she wore when she was 21.

That’s probably the one area she can beat you at.

If she knows you refrain from drinking (alcohol), she’ll ask, “Do you want some wine?” (as she passes the decanter), and then she’ll add, just as if it’s an accident: “Oh, I forgot, you don’t drink.”

She’ll then act flummoxed and a bit uncomfortable, suggesting she “let the cat (your alleged drinking ‘problem‘) out of the bag.”

It‘s at that point you might want to ‘out her,’ as the hypocrite she is, for pretending her character‘s flawless when you know via others that she’s been known to slur her words, in phone conversations with family members, at night.

Yes, these are the toxic relatives that one must be ready for at holiday gatherings. And you do need to prepare ahead for what you’ll either say or not say in response to their off-putting remarks so that you‘re not blind-sided..

So, here’s what works for me (and give me your own ideas, too):

I suggest when the Diva unloads another ‘accidental assault,’ you simply stare at her blankly, maybe even arch an eyebrow quizzically, while keeping an amused (if faint) smile on your lips, as if you‘re not quite sure how to respond, so you‘re not going to respond at all.

Just let her comment or question hang there….

Then, immediately, turn to another and engage in real conversation, something about the Arab Spring, the fall of Khadafy, Occupy Wall Street, or whatever else piques your interest. In other words, you make it known (subtly) that unless she “Plays nice,“ you refuse to engage with her. Furthermore, you let it be known, too, that you prefer to talk about grown-up issues.

In this way, you give her lobbed ball of heavy-handedness no reaction…

It’s so much more effective than “Oh, no, I haven’t gained any…” or “Maybe a little.” Or then again, “No, you’re right…I don’t drink, but I can certainly pass the decanter….”

But I want to know: “How do you handle the loathsome relative who uses social occasions as opportunities to attack, under the guise of feigned interest, the one who acts ever-so-sweet but who never misses an opportunity to dig you about your weight… your character… your family… in a public setting?”
After all, you can’t press her to the floor, while positioning your knee against her chest, as you hold the carving knife to her carotid artery. (Or can you? And what a lovely image that is! :))
We’ve all got these types of relatives, so “Do tell. What’s worked for you?” We’re all ears……….” Leave a Comment below.  Sign in as “Anonymous” if you choose. Your e-mail address is never shared.  Promise! 

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A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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