It’s that time of year yet again where many of us are forced to spend an unnecessary extended amount of time with our families. As a bachelor living over 500 miles away from his family, I find this to be very difficult as for the majority of the year I’m not around the drama and judgment that comes with a big family. Nevertheless, it’s our duty as good ole southerners to put on our “bless your heart” fake smiles and explain over and over again why being 27 and unmarried doesn’t mean something’s wrong with me, and awkwardly interact with our weird cousins with whom we have nothing in common. Here’s how I plan to muster through these holiday family gatherings without going completely insane.
Form a team of allies. More than likely you have some cool cousins who are not looking forward to all of the family “bonding” and will also be doing everything in their power to not go crazy. Figure out who your co-conspirators are early and form an alliance; make a pact to save one one another from awkward conversations, create secret signals you can motion to each other when you need a life line and conspire ways y’all can sneak away from the house without anyone noticing!
Address the awkward questions before being asked. At some point, we’re all asked the proverbial questions like, “You’re STILL single?,” “Didn’t you start college like six years ago? Are you ever going to finish?,” and all the other embarrassing questions that you don’t care to answer. Diffuse these situations by beating them to the punch. Pull mom and dad aside and express how you don’t care to validate your life stage to everyone over dinner and if they can support you in helping to deflect these conversations from happening. They’ll be able to interject on your behalf when your grandmother starts throwing the daggers. Another good approach is to just laugh it off; take their power away by laughing at yourself and they’ll run out of ammo.
Put yourself in charge of seating arrangements. The full proof way to make sure you don’t get stuck next to your whiskey-breath uncle or extremely flatulent cousin is to delegate the seating arrangements yourself. Seat all the riff-raff relatives at the opposite end of the table so that the more dignified family members can enjoy dinner in peace.
Remove yourself from gossip gatherings. It’s tempting but trust me, you’ll stay sane longer if you don’t allow yourself to get sucked into gossip huddles. This is a must because should the person who is being talked about catch whim of this going on, you don’t want your name to be mentioned, putting you in the line of fire to be attacked! When you notice these conversations arising, either deflect by changing the subject or just get up and go to the bathroom; find anything that gets you far away from getting caught up in the gossip ring.
Take full advantage of the little alone time you get. If your parent’s house or the house you’re staying at is hosting the holiday gatherings, praise the Lord above when it’s time for everyone to go home. Take the sweet potato pie out of your secret hiding place, put on some comfy clothes, go into your room and enjoy the sweet sounds of silence. After putting up with your family for hours or even days without cracking you deserve a little reward!