Together with horrendous traffic, panic shopping, breaking the budget, and uncontrollable overeating comes another top Christmas cringe: the family reunion. On top of everything else you need to do this season, you also have to make sure that your nerves are ready for what your relatives - or worse, your husband’s - throw at you the moment they lean in for a beso.
Sheila Rodriguez*, mom of two, comes home to the Philippines every Christmas to spend time with family. However, since she lives in another country, she is usually the target of much unwanted criticism: “Wow! I haven’t seen you in a long time! Are you really Sheila? The Sheila I know is slim and sexy! You had your baby lang, you let yourself go na.”
There’s no way to escape these embarrassing situations. Here’s how you can prep yourself for them and still enjoy the rest of the holidays.
The sting: “You’re fat!” …or too thin, or your dress is too short, or your hair is too long. Whatever the zing, criticism about how you look never goes down well.
The script: “Well, I ate that skinny girl and this fat girl is here to stay!” Or crack some other joke. According to Herald Cruz, Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM) parenting cluster head and family counselor, “In Filipino culture, it’s part of a greeting to comment on weight. So it’s important that your self-esteem is strong. You can turn it around and say, ‘Ikaw rin.’ Just don’t take it personally.”
His wife, co-head of the CEFAM parenting cluster and certified life coach Melissa Pizaña-Cruz, says not to let it get to you. “They might not mean it in the vein that you receive it. The ones who make these comments—are these the people you’re trying to please? Do you really care about their opinions?” Usually the answer is no. So keep your chin up and smile.