So this is Christmas, as a very famous wordsmith once wrote. Aside from humiliating yourself at the office Christmas party, panic-buying last minute gifts for people you’d rather not waste the money on, and getting annoyed at the number of cards your children want to send to pretty much everybody in the world, you are probably doing one of two things.

If you’ve got the time and money, you’ll be jetting off for fun in the, erm, rain, in your home country. Or you’ll be staying put for Christmas in the UAE.

And why wouldn’t you?

Where else can you walk on the beach in the morning and ski in the afternoon? Where else is it easy to get a cooked Christmas roast delivered to your door or, better still, eat one in style at one of the world’s most luxurious hotels and not have to worry about cleaning up afterwards?

And why go to your family when they can come to you? Because that’s always fun, right? Well… not exactly.

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There are people who dread the thought of their in-laws visiting. In fact, many of them are just as reticent about their own parents coming over. Let me point out here, for the record (and not because they’ll be reading this), that I love my wife’s parents and she loves mine. Both of us get genuinely excited at the thought of having them over, and would love it if they could be here more often.

That said, cracks in the wall of marital unity do occasionally start to appear, and when they do, that small drip of annoyance can fast become a raging flood of accusation, abuse and attempted murder.

I wonder if there are scientific researchers in the region that might be willing to chart specific flashpoints, to provide key areas to avoid and optimum visit durations.

Of course, the results would be different for men and women. In our house it’s when one of our mothers starts doling out a little too much parenting advice.

“That’s not how we did it when you were a baby.”

“Oh, let them have it. They’re on holiday.”

With the fathers, it tends to be the monopolising of our favourite chairs and remote controls. Though sometimes our parents work as a team, telling exaggerated, embarrassing tales of when we were kids, often directly contradicting the rules we’re trying to lay down for our own children.

“When Daddy was your age, he was always juggling knives and setting things on fire.”

“That’s nothing compared to what your Mummy used to go out in. It was disgraceful.”

It doesn’t matter how long parents are here for, be it a week or a month, the drive back from the airport drop-off is always a time for exhaling, then apologising for all the times they made us take it out on each other. Back home, we sprawl out on our newly vacated sofas with big grins on our faces.

Then time, like the red light in Men In Black, makes us forget it all, and just like that, their flights are booked for half term.

Catboy hosts the Dubai 92 breakfast show with Aylissa, Sunday to Thursday 6am to 10am, withWhat’s On setting up your weekend on Fridays from 11am.

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