Super common awkward family situations and how to survive them
‘Tis the season to be jolly, and to be jolly in the face of endless awkward family moments. Just because Thanksgiving weekend is coming to close does not mean you are out of the clear. It’s only beginning, you sweet sugarplums! The holidays are a high-pressure, high-emotion time; there will inevitably be some weird, cringe-y situations. Minimizing the damage is important if you want to ultimately make it through the holiday season in one piece.
I generally feel that you have two paths when it comes to dealing with uncomfortable questions: Be fully open and honest (and accept any sort of fallout that may come), or give as little information as possible (and accept that that can lead to feelings of distance). The lesser of two evils, you know?
Maybe this is just my family (though I doubt it), but questions tend to fall into three major categories: my love life, my career choices, and my political leanings. Since I’m a single, outspoken, left-wing feminist who at any given time is working between 2-4 jobs, this can get tricky.
“Why are you still single?” asks Aunt Sally, three days after you’ve been dumped by your S.O.
Stay. Calm. As intrusive as that question is, remember that Aunt Sally did not break up with you, and she does not deserve all the unbridled wrath that’s been building up since you suddenly became single. If you think saying the words, “I recently broke up with my S.O.” will help you accept the truth of that statement, then go ahead, but know that that answer tends to open the door for a whole slew of follow up questions.
My answer tends to be along the lines of, “Oh, ha ha, I don’t know. So how’s [insert hobby]?” It answers the question quickly, changes the topic, and makes it clear that you don’t feel like discussing it any further. Give a little close-mouthed smile and slam that door shut.
“I can’t believe anyone in their right mind would vote for Trump,” you laugh. Actually, Uncle Jim is voting for Trump, and now he wants to discuss The Wall for the next 45 minutes.
Solution: DON’T TALK ABOUT POLITICS AT FAMILY GATHERINGS. It is a recipe for disaster. Do I agree with 90% of my extended family when it comes to politics? Of course not, dude. And I’ve had to accept that regardless of how much we argue, they’re set in their ways.
If I feel like my head will explode if one more racist or sexist or classist comment is made, I’ll excuse myself for a moment. Practice a few calming breaths, text a friend to vent, and pour another glass of eggnog. This, too, shall pass.
“So you were a Creative Writing major and now you’re…an SAT prep tutor? And a receptionist at a gym? Hmm, that’s nice.”
In this economy, it is oftentimes a little painful trying to describe to older generations why the job(s) you work to pay the bills are not what you went to school for, but it’s a situation we have to face again and again. Does it make you want to punch a wall? Yep. Will lashing out at your Dad’s snooty cousin who seems to think that the world would be a better place if we outlawed the liberal arts make it all better? I wish, but no.
Our generation is in the process of redefining what success and happiness looks like, and older gens are kind of grumpy about it. Just like their parents were grumpy about their revised life plans. It’s a forever cycle. Keep your head up. You’re doing the thing and killing the game.
(Images: Giphy (3), Warner Bros. Television)