It happens every single year. The Christmas tree is decked with tears and garlanded in false guilt. Fugetabout the Grinch. This is how narcissists steal Christmas.

The Twelve Days of False Guilt

Several weeks before Christmas, narcissists begin their annual Advent tradition. Each year, it’s the same song-and-dance.

They stuff their family’s stockings (hung by the chimney with dread) with False Guilt. You never have to wonder what you’re getting for Christmas. It’s always the same. False Guilt.

No Peace On Earth. No Good Will to Men

Let’s say that Bob Cratchitt was a narcissist, just for shits and giggles. He puts Tiny Tim up on a pedestal as the Golden Child. Then he assigns the role of the Scapegoat to Tim’s older sister. Y’know, the sister you’ve never heard of. (FYI-her name was Martha.)

Then Cratchitt gossips about Tim to Martha and gossips about Martha to Tim. Pretty soon, the siblings aren’t on speaking terms, not even over a flaming plum pudding. Meanwhile poor, poor Cratchitt’s in the corner, sobbing over his fractured family, bewailing what a bad person his daughter is, demanding that she “make it right” with her poor, poor brother. Get the picture?

This is exactly how I’ve seen my family’s Christmases ruined for the past fifteen years. We didn’t get coal in our stockings. We got False Guilt.

Playing the Victim…Pa rum pum pum pum

On Christmas Day, narcissists revel in the Yuletide parlor game of Playing the Victim. In the past, I observed that this game was best played in the kitchen.

Our hostess prepared a feast that would’ve put the benevolent Ghost of Christmas Present to shame. There was enough food to feed a small army for a week! The work involved nicely fueled her victim playing. Aw, she was such a martyr to the stove.

Meanwhile, the expense of this gastronomic orgy turned our host into an angry, cranky Scrooge. His angst merely gave the poor, poor, unappreciated hostess the fuel for playing more rounds of Victim, Victim, Who’s The Victim in the kitchen.

Old Acquaintance I’d Like To Forget…for Auld Lang Syne

In the olden days, the acting capabilities of my family rivaled the Barrymores. Everyone plastered on smiles and force-chatted for several hours on Christmas day.

Unfortunately, sooner or later the brothers-in-law would start competing by proxy. Their weapons of choice: their children. If one cousin was forced to sing, the other cousins were forced to sing. Competitive recitations of poetry followed.

But around four in the afternoon, the “Barrymores” had enough of this nonsense and wanted to go home.

Meanwhile…back in the kitchen…

…the Perpetual Victim had insisted on washing every pot, every pan and anointing the copper-clad saucepan bottoms with catsup to keep ’em bright and shiny like a new penny. Naturally, this level of Obsessive Compulsive kitchen chicanery was just another strategy in the game of Victim. By the time she’d run out of ways to waste time in the kitchen, the “Barrymores” were sick of caramel corn, Christmas cookies, peanut brittle…and each other!

As they struggled into their parkas, stocking caps and boots the Perpetual Victim popped out of the kitchen to cry, “You’re leaving already!?! I didn’t get enough time to visit with the family!” dabbing her tear-filled eyes with a green-and-red Yuletide apron. You could cut the False Guilt with a knife.

Out upon merry Christmas!

Call me Ebenezer Scrooge if you will, but I echo him in saying, “Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.” If narcissism sucks all the yuletide cheer out of Christmas, I want no part of it!

In Proverbs 17:1, King Solomon wrote, “Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting–and conflict.” Sounds like a benediction on my “No Contact” policy to me!

Do you want to join your narcissistic family this Christmas? C’mon, be honest! You don’t, do you. So here’s my challenge to you: Stay home. What’s the worst thing that can possibly happen? You won’t get any Christmas presents and you’ll be as much of the main course as the Christmas goose. So what!? They’re gonna gossip about you, anyways!

Peace On Earth

Remaining No Contact on Christmas ensures that you will have peace. You will have serenity. And you’ll be in very good company with the thousands of us who have chosen to celebrate Christmas as far from narcissism as we can possibly get.

Photo by “Caveman Chuck” Coker