SUZANNE HARRINGTON: Improve on three Rs — positivity is all the rage

THE Round Robin season is upon us.

You know, those letters that fall out of Christmas cards from friends and relatives you may not have seen all year, updating you on how they and their family are doing. It might sound a perfectly innocuous middle class indulgence, but beware — with the Round Robin comes RRR. Round Robin Rage.

You know — the kind of smugness that makes your face erupt in boils of fury. First there’s the boasting about the kids: “Fiachra has just decoded the genome, and Maeve soon starts her internship with Hillary Clinton.” Or, “We’ve recently met Donal’s new fiancée, who is charmingly down to earth, considering her family own most of Scotland.”

Meanwhile, you’re wondering how to best describe your own son’s year, given that its highlights have been a minor drug bust and getting fired from his telesales job. Or how your daughter is still on the Largactil.

Never mind. You can always tell them about your camping trip to France. That’s neutral territory, right? But look, they’ve beaten you to it, regaling you with their once-in-a-lifetime trip around South America, including the bits you’ve never heard of. “Buenos Aires really is the Paris of the south,” you read, aware that your teeth are starting to clamp together. “We had a wonderful month learning the tango before moving on to Salvador for carnaval. And Montevideo was delightful. It was first class travel all the way, thanks to John’s promotion.”

If by now the little voice inside your head is shouting SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP, you’ll be relieved to know that you’re not alone. Such is the seasonal levels of Round Robin Rage that a website, The Middle Class Handbook, has published a helpful guide on how to avoid annoying everyone while still filling them in on your news.

First, nobody gives a flying monkeys about your new conservatory, your pay rise, or your face lift (unless it has gone wrong, in which case, they’ll be fascinated). Nor do they want to hear about how Deirdre only got A’s in her Leaving Cert. Remember – your kids are only interesting to you. To everyone else, they’re just your kids.

So moderate the boasting, get self deprecating, mix in some trivia, and include some bad news. “Fabulous new flat thanks to the divorce settlement. The new kittens are adorable. Mother died.” Not too much bad news, mind. Nobody wants whining and moaning at Christmas – at least, not from you anyway. If you’ve just lost your job, gone through a bitter separation, and have been made homeless, remember to keep it positive: “Been a bit of a tricky year, but at least I don’t have to deal with my boss/spouse/crippling mortgage repayments anymore. Living in the car is surprisingly cosy. Oh, and the tumour was benign.”

See? It’s all about presentation.


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