How to handle your family during the holidays
By Ashley Kromrey
Ah yes, the holidays are upon us. While it is the most wonderful time of the year for many, there’s the matter of those invasive personal questions we get asked year in and year out. We all knew this was coming, we saw the signs (Christmas music playing in convenience stores right after Halloween), yet we still haven’t quite nailed down the right solutions to awkward family confrontations.
Yes, the holidays can be a platform to share your personal year highlights, your ultimate wins, but unless you’ve won the Superbowl, maybe you won’t be making any headlines. So for all of us that have less than cookie cutter families to spend the holidays with, here are some tailored responses to make your family gathering bulletproof and know how to handle your family during the holidays.
- “Are you seeing anyone?” “How come you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” “So, when’s the wedding?
We all have those family members who have a very forward way of comparing family members in different life stages. For example, my late grandfather used to question me with “Your cousin is married, how come you aren’t yet?” To which I would smile and reply “Well, she gets to have one man, and I get to have them all.” Once he grasped what I actually said, he muttered to himself and nodded in agreement. Issue squashed.
Maybe this is your year to finally bring that special someone home for the holidays. It was a challenge to muster up the courage and confidence to invite your new love interest, now let the awkward confrontations begin! Before you turn bright red, know how to handle your family during the holidays. It would be wise to give your parents a brief introduction about your relationship status, how serious it is, what your new flame would be comfortable being referred to as, etc. And if you know family, that news will spread like wildfire, before you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner. For at least two years of holidays, my mom referred to my brother’s girlfriend as his “special friend.” Don’t have your mom, be that mom.
- Playing babysitter.
In some gatherings, parents see the opportunity to enjoy themselves and ease up on parenting. Maybe Dad wants to be in a food coma watching football, or Mom wants to gossip with all the aunts, either way somewhere in the house you could be babysitting and not even know it. A simple trick for toddlers, present the child back to the parents with a “I think he has a dirty diaper.” You have a 50/50 chance and if you’re wrong, at least they’re back with their parent(s).
- Food you eat because you have to.
Halftime breaks we’re stuffed, but still shocked we still have room for more. There is always that one wildcard dish, melted stuff with more creamy stuff? So and so’s Aunt made it, hence we have to validate their effort and “try” it. If the home which you are visiting does not have a dog near, and it’s your such luck the chef of the dish happens to be staring at you earnestly to take a bite, you have no choice then to muster up the appetite and try it. I recommend making it the first thing you try, since you probably did not eat breakfast that morning, to prep for this marathon of indulgence. Because when you are starved, anything tastes good.
- “What do you mean you’re finding yourself?” “Why don’t you have a job yet?”
With so many occupations, types of work schedules, and college degrees, many family members who are old school cannot fathom things like taking a semester off from school or working from home. We can make choices now, we’re not locked into getting married at 20. When confronted with this question it’s best to say “I’m young and figuring out my life, any suggestions?” If it’s not too late to have an uncle pinch your cheeks and hand you a 20 dollar bill, you can ask for advice and be sure to use that word older family members love to hear, “wisdom.”
- “That’s enough Chatty Cathy!”
Perhaps you just sat down with coffee in one hand and dessert in the other, on the comfy couch next to your yearly dose of relative. Someone strikes up the conversation and the next thing you know you are in for a long Oprah session. Know how to handle your family during the holidays? The trick is to kindly depart after giving due time to your loved family member. It would work best if you pretend to gesture as if you think you hear your name being called. Wave across the room to acknowledge anyone as if you are coming right over, not like you are sending out an SOS. If you want to get real crafty, act alert like you remember you have something in the oven, or remind the host cooking they do.
Where ever you gather this year, take these tricks with you. Now you know how to handle your family during the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving!
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