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My kids want an eco Christmas but organic turkeys are so expensive!

PUBLISHED: 16:49 11 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:49 11 November 2019

We're going to be torn in two this Christmas because everyone has different values. Help! PHOTO: Getty Images

We're going to be torn in two this Christmas because everyone has different values. Help! PHOTO: Getty Images

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Sue Bayliss helps a reader who is about to be torn in two this Christmas

Dear Sue

I'm coming under pressure from my two teenage children to consider the environment in my preparations for Christmas. They are fans of Greta Thunberg and are supportive of Extinction Rebellion. They are adamant that they want an Eco - Christmas. I am not against this idea but my parents are going to be present and I foresee some clashes as my father and mother are both very traditional and can't see the need to change what we do.

Organic turkeys are expensive and a ban on plastic makes things difficult. My daughter is threatening to go vegan and refuse any meat at all over Christmas. Wrapping paper and Christmas cards have to be either recycled or without any glitter. We are already having arguments in the family about Brexit and about the merits of the Green Party versus any other political parties. I see trouble ahead when my parents arrive on the scene. My husband is sympathetic to the green cause but he dislikes any confrontation so will try to shut down any discussions that are becoming heated.

Add to this mix, my sister and brother in law who works in finance and supports the Tories, and we are truly heading for disaster. They are appearing on Christmas Day with their two children who go to private schools and are less inclined to consider social justice and green values. They always sport the latest gadgets and new clothes and like to show off their latest purchases.

How on earth am I going to keep the peace during the Christmas celebrations? It seems a truly daunting prospect given the divergence of opinions and the strength of the views in those concerned.

Have you any ideas for me? I am always trying to make everyone happy and that intention seems pretty much doomed to fail.

Yours in hope,

Miranda

Dear Miranda,

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I don't think you are alone in trying to create a Christmas full of good cheer when the odds are stacked against it! I'd suggest calling a family meeting with your husband and children and discussing everyone's wishes for a peaceful and happy Christmas time.

You can listen to what each person wants and ask for practical suggestions. Perhaps different family members could be in charge of different aspects, such as ordering Christmas cards from Survival International or WWF or other worthwhile charities. Organic turkeys could be researched by the children too perhaps so they realise the price differences. You might also help them to understand that your parents need a gentle approach to get them to understand the importance of the climate emergency.

You could also have a chat with your parents before they arrive to prepare the ground. You could check with them 
what presents they are intending to get for your children and maybe offer them a list of eco-friendly things the kids would like.

As for your brother in law and sister, you can only proceed with tact. I remember one Christmas giving my nephew a goat - not literally, but one for a family in Ethiopia through the charity Oxfam. He now works for a hedge fund but previously worked for Goldman Sachs! My most daring present to him was the book by John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hitman! Unfortunately I wasn't there to see him open it!

Again, you might like to prepare the ground before they arrive and mention that you are all signed up to an Eco-Christmas and invite them to consider the environment in what they decide to give as presents.

Of course the potential 
for political discussions to become heated is great. Perhaps you should designate a particular arm chair as the Speaker's throne and allow that person to shout Orderrrrr 
if things are getting out of 
hand!

Another idea is to get everyone playing as many games as possible. There are card games and ones to make people laugh such as Consequences. Of course board games are always good to keep everyone occupied though Monopoly and Risk might be best avoided! My favourite board game is Therapy though it is a bit of a busman's holiday for me! Why not get the whole family engaged in Charades with plenty of opportunity for people to make a fool of themselves? That would break the ice and take their minds off differences of opinion.

Make sure the TV is off so no news programmes arrive to prompt a variety of responses. Netflix or selected DVDs could also keep everyone's attention off the tricky subjects. You could even try going out carol singing if your family is partial to singing. Attending carol concerts is another idea or plenty of brisk country walks if you have a dog or even if you don't!

My parents used to have a New Year's Eve Party every 
year and they introduced the game of Challenges. Each person was given a piece of paper with a particular challenge on it. It involved 
some kind of strange behaviour such as moving a picture hanging on the wall, saying something fairly outrageous etc. Each participant was only allowed to challenge another player once so you couldn't waste them unless you were pretty sure and of course challenging someone when they were just being themselves was amusing if not too embarrassing! It might be worth a try.

I wish you luck with your Christmas. May peace break out and goodwill to all be the order of the day. If it doesn't work out, don't blame yourself. Trying to make people happy is generally an impossible task and if you do your best that is all that is required. Make sure you enjoy what you can and don't feel responsible for everyone else's happiness!

Warm wishes

Sue

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