Your ‘Home For The Holidays' Survival Guide

Ghost of Christmas Future, here! ‘Tis less than a fortnight until I vanish and my visions for your Winter festivities become a reality! Right now you’re probably freaking out, planning your flights and buying presents that will fit in a carry-on, sorting out plans with your folks over the phone almost everyday as they overly anticipate your arrival back to the nest. It’s stressful! It’s exciting! It’s positively horrifying! It’s the happiest time of year!

Before you drudge back to your small childhood bed like a golden retriever in the puppy basket he’s outgrown, I’ve constructed a checklist of things in order to prepare yourself for the barrage of attention, questions and comments from those pesky relatives you see but once a year. Bless us all, my Tiny Tims!

Keeping Up Appearances:

1. Get a trim. Prove to your folks that just because you’re living on your own and don’t have the guidance of Mom’s advice on a hairdresser, you’re still perfectly capable of personal upkeep and the cost of a Super Cuts haircut. You’re not taking so many of those overly-coordinated photos in front of the tree for nothing.

2. Whiten your brights. Don’t let it show that your entire day depends on guzzling copious amounts of coffee in order to function, or that maybe you’ve been passing out from your late night parties without washing those pearlies. You know who has amazingly white teeth? Babies. Just like the ones your brother’s bringing home this year. Don’t let a lame baby make you feel inferior with their single, fresh-from-the-factory new tooth.

3. Tidy up those claws, girl. If you’re like me, your nails are a disheveled mess this season. I’m a stress tearer/biter, and when I’ve got a hefty load on my plate, my hands literally show it. Visit the nail salon or pick up a cheap manicure set so your mother can’t give you grief about the dirt under your nails just like she did after every softball practice.

4. Purchase some new dungarees. Your clothes are most likely earning some tatters from twentydom. You probably won’t even realize until your grandmother suggests she hem up that hole in your sweater. Now that the holiday sales are in full effect, use them to your advantage while gift shopping to pick up some jeans your Aunt Karen wouldn’t point out as “unflattering for your figure”.

5. Or a fun holiday ensemble. Because nothing says, “Look at how great I’m doing as a grown-up, family!” like a red boat-neck A-line dress and some faux pearls* from Forever 21.

*no one can tell the difference.

Socializing with the Extendeds

1. Have back-up topics for when it turns to politics. Yes, an election just happened, but the decision has been made and we don’t need to discuss who’s going to do what wrong and who would’ve done what better. I love you to death, Uncle Carl, but America has spoken! Have you seen Grumpy Cat?! How’s your Apocalypse shelter coming?

2. Seize the moments you have to remind them that you’re employed. Or, even if you’re not, make up a job that sounds too boring to want to ask about. Oh, you’ve gotten into insurance? Well, okay. Pass the ham.

3. You’re completely okay with being single. There’s nothing more depressing than Mom and Grandma asking you about your dating life and realizing that they were both married and preggers at your age, but then it becomes quite liberating. I’m too busy discovering ME, Maw Maw! And then sassily toss your scarf around your neck as you go back to the den to watch cartoons with your nephew.

4. When you’ve had enough, defer attention to a more successful/less successful cousin. Why would I want to talk about MY job when Andrea just got into law school! Tell us all about it, Andrea! *grabs egg nog in a swift exit* OR I’ve been going on lots of interviews but, you know, the job market is tough right now. Speaking of markets, what happened with Jake’s trial about that guy who wanted his kidney back?

5. Or to a crappy person from high school. Looook, Moooom, I know that you don’t consider improv classes higher education, but did you hear that Amanda, the girl who used to make fun of my clothes sophomore year, got arrested for abandoning her kid in a JCPenney?

Back In The Nest

1. Be prepared to relinquish control of your laundry. Mom still wants to wash your clothes because she just loves you oh so much! Just let her. No matter how much you try to convey that it’s not dirty or that it doesn’t need THAT much fabric softener, they literally get off on this sort of thing. Do mind the undergarments you pack if you don’t want to hear her go on about how thongs just can’t be comfortable.

2. Relearn the fetal position. Christmastime for me means, if going back to my Mom’s house, I’m cramped into my old twin bed from high school. If it’s going to Maw Maw’s, it’s on a pull-out sofa with my younger sister and cousin. It feels so much like a hotel, but a hotel that you used to live in years ago and has changed the sheets only a few more times since then. Solid night sleeps are not to be expected, there’s too many fun shenanigans going on and too many relatives to cram under one roof because you’re such an adorably close family! Your knee is in my butt.

3. You still don’t eat enough vegetables. And even if you do, you really don’t. Grandma knows. Oh, what’s that? Did you need to say something? Here’s another scoop of lima beans.

4. Don’t be their present. I get it every year from both parents, “I don’t need a present, you visiting is my present!” Whatever, guys, sounds like a lot of pressure for me to be super charming or something, even to Aunt Diane’s new boyfriend in the hunting jacket. Is it a mind game or not? I can’t decide! STARBUCKS GIFT CARD.

5. Don’t be Kevin.

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