Dear Vered,

Every year at holiday gatherings with family, my uncle has made comments about my weight. I’ve always been a little chubby, but I’m active, my doctor says I’m healthy, and there’s really not a problem. I’ve had a tough year — I lost my job and my cat just died — and really cannot deal with his needling at the Christmas dinner table this year. Can I tell my mom, who hosts Christmas dinner every year, that I won’t come unless he promises to stop picking on me? It seems really unfair to my mom, who loves me a lot. Shame about her brother.

Stop Picking On Me


Dear Reader,

Your uncle is an asshole. You have my permission to not attend Christmas dinner.

But I don’t think that’s what you want. You want to attend Christmas dinner and you want your uncle to stop picking on you so you can enjoy it. You’re going to have to enlist your mom and get her on your side. The problem with people who host large family gatherings is that by necessity of their hosting duties, they have learned to let all the drama pass them by so they can do the work. That’s why it’s so easy for her to say, “That’s just your uncle. Ignore him.” She’s probably been ignoring him her whole life. She lacks your perspective, which is that he is hurting your feelings and making the event less pleasant. Time to talk to your mom, and have her keep the peace. Ask her to explicitly tell Uncle Tad to knock off comments about your weight. It’s off-limits, from here forward.

If she talks to him and he does it anyway, just get up and leave the table. No comment, no dramatic upheaval. Pop into the kitchen, pack yourself some leftovers, and head out. Your mom wants you there, and she will find a way to keep you there and happy. If it takes a year of you getting up and leaving after he makes a comment, she will know for sure that it cannot happen again next year. The worst thing that will happen is that you miss some of dinner this year, but if you were going to skip it anyway to avoid your asshole uncle, that’s not a huge loss.