It’s hard to believe, but it’s that time again. I know!!!! It's “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”
Who came up with that phrase, anyway?
I’ll bet it was a New Yorker. Or maybe it was a sarcastic, simplistic, yet creative genius much like…
No. I’m not talking about myself. Although I suppose the phrase could’ve been coined by a woman. I did say sarcastic, remember? And that doesn’t sound like me at all. But who really cares. It’s not what I want to talk about right now.
The holidays are upon us, and heading home can often be a stressful process. First you have to make travel arrangements.
If you're flying you have to deal with long lines at the airport.
Then you get to deal with TSA screenings that can be interesting at times. (Is it normal for the screener to ask you to lift your shirt?)
All just to get home to face your family. That can be scary. Especially when two words are involved:
For some, family dinners may be something they look forward to - especially during the holidays. But for countless others, the experience of having your immediate and extended family members under one roof, fighting over who gets the turkey neck can be as painful as a root canal.
If you fall into that category don’t lose heart.
You are not alone!
There are plenty of others out there who make the long (or short) journey home to have dinner with a group of people who just don't get you. You braved hours of traffic. Waited in those long lines at the airport. Survived those sensual TSA screenings... all in order to share a fabulously amazing meal at home and catch up with your nearest and dearest.
It’s never fabulously amazing, is it? The turkey is dry. The vegetables are vegetables. The cranberry sauce is from the can. I mean. Come ON! I sat on a crowded plane for hours with someone kicking the back of the seat for hours while the woman next to me got hammered at told me her entire life story then tried to set me up with her brother - a plumber, who she said would be happy to come over and take care of my pipes for free... anytime. At least order dinner from Marie Calendar's.
But it’s too late. You have no other choice to but to accept it. You’re home. And you’re probably the most interesting and most judgmental one at the table. At this very second your cousin is probably reading an article on how to deal with my “from-the-big-city-I-think-I-am-too-fabulous-family-member”.
So buckle up. Prepare yourself for stimulating dinner conversation about marriage, houses, kids, babies, school systems, politics, and healthcare.gov.
And let’s not forget about the questions.
I don’t know about you, but I believe subtlety is important when answering those inevitable questions that come along with those family holiday dinners. It’s ok. Take some deep breaths. Calm down, ask for more wine, and feel free to use some of the following responses I've used over the years to get me through:
“Why are you so dressed up?”
You can respond to this with something like, “You’re so sweet! I realized when I was packing all of my nice clothes are still at the cleaners. I’ve had so many events, fundraisers, and parties to go… I mean – does it ever stop?! I’ve got a bunch of New Year's Eve parties coming up too when I get back...so I should really find the time to go pick those up. I’m SO sorry I came so casually to dinner. That’s not usually my thing."
Now you can turn the tables. Why not? They already think you’re a b*tch.
“Don’t you look cute, Sally! Boot-cut jeans?! That’s so cool. I LOVE vintage. Cousin Amy come over here. Check out her jeans. Shut up!!! They’re NOT vintage? Wow! I haven’t seen jeans like that since high school. We’ve got this FABULOUS vintage shop by me that has high-rise vintage flares from the 70s. Those aren’t high-rise are they? Yeah, I didn’t think so.”
You can continue along these lines and whatever you do... do NOT stop talking about yourself and your dry cleaner until the family member you aren't in the mood to talk to walks away.
At some point, you can expect this stupid question from everyone at the table that already knows the answer.
“So? Tell us, who are you dating?”
Take the high road. Respond with something along the lines of, “I’m exploring my options. I’ve found a few worthy of my time, but why should I settle? Britney, your wedding was just beautiful, by the way!”
You could also say, "I'm still getting over my breakup with Ryan Gosling/Joseph Gordon-Levitt/whatever celebrity you want to insert here. He really broke my heart". Bonus points if you throw in a few tears. Works every time.
Time for more wine? I thought so too.
Because there will always be at least one family member who refuses to give up on the subject of your love life. Prepare for another stupid question:
“Where are you meeting people?”
Between us, let’s be honest...Tinder, J-Date, beer pong at your local hipster bar. But it's okay to keep the truth to yourself and politely answer, “Oh, you know, conferences, church, all the charity events I've been going to and that's why all my nice clothes are at the cleaners. I meet people all the time!"
Feel free to turn the tables again by asking some questions of your own. Look at your cousin's manicure and casually say, "I love that color! That's OPI's, 'I'm Not Really a Whore,' right?"
She'll probably be very confused. Everyone at the table is going to be confused. PERFECT! Keep asking questions. Then talk about yourself, but keep things vague, and only use one-word answers.
Then, expect this stupid question from someone:
“When are you going to settle down, get married, have a family, and move to the suburbs?”
Respond with, “When I decide life is no longer worth living.”
At this point, NO ONE at the table should want to talk to you, but unfortunately, these topics might still come up:
“My friend just had a baby!” says your overly excited cousin, Michael. To which you can reply, “What a nightmare! Having to cart around a baby stroller? No thanks."
"I just got engaged!" You answer, "Congratulations! I didn't even notice your ring. Come closer so I can see it. It's beautiful."
“You still don't eat meat?" You reply, “Relevance?” Which will totally lead to awkward silence...which is awesome because you are TOTALLY DOMINATING the table right now.
Congratulations. You have survived. Until next year... And maybe Aunt Bethany will still be around to say grace.
Remember what I said earlier about sarcastic not sounding like me at all. Maybe I was wrong about that. ;-)