December has somehow already arrived. While we scramble to complete our massive workloads, endless assignments, and daunting 12-hour workdays before the holiday season, some of us may be feeling conflicted about our return home to our families.
Family: the strangest and strongest bond there is. In almost no other sphere of adult life are we outright required to see the same people regardless of whether we like them or not. In that regard, family is almost like an office, except that it’s predicated upon decades of deeply personal, unknowable history.
How many more dinners can you sit through with your wino cousin before you ask yourself why you “have” to do this? How many more times can you hear your uncle tell the story of how he once got lost in a department store at Macy’s and was found in the back room looking for Santa? How many more passive-aggressive fights can you endure between your brother and your mom before you lose it?
Listen. We at BTR get it.
Family can be infuriating. Depending on who you are and where you come from, you may not even like them that much. But for many of us, regardless of how we feel, each major holiday is spent around the same table, as it has been our whole lives. And for better or for worse, here we are.
So we have some perks to help get you through the holiday.
Free booze. OK, your wino cousin may be totally annoying. But, just for the next few nights, why not drink along with them? Plus, older people generally don’t have the tolerance for bad booze. If you’re lucky, your parents and family will be sipping on Moet and Bulleit rather than Andres and Evan Williams.
You’ll be surprised at how much funnier your family can be after you’ve had a cocktail or three. There’s science behind it—sort of. I’ll have another Sapphire and Tonic, Dad, thanks. Now keep bringing on the jokes.
Delicious, free food. It’s remarkable how much you can drown out the sound of your family fighting about Bernie Sanders versus Hillary Clinton with the sound of your own chewing. Whatever your holiday meal tradition is, it is possible—in fact, probable—that there is at least one great dish to eat.
In general, food from home is a great way to hold onto your fading sanity. Waiting to be hungry again always get me through long days of boredom. After a hearty breakfast, I eagerly await the next tentative sign of hunger for lunch. From there, it’s only a matter of hours before I’m happily eating dinner, which is hopefully accompanied with homemade cookies for dessert.
Working out. It may be pertinent to mention that all of this eating and drinking is slightly unhealthy. One (decidedly less fun) way to combat cabin fever and feelings of frustration is exercise.
Visiting home allows you to take out guest passes at gyms without fear of being dogged to buy a full membership. Try discounts on first-time spin classes, barre workouts, and yoga studios. You can thank us later.
Next time your brother asks you, “So, what job will your major get you, anyway?” sweat out your annoyance while enjoying your full-blown return to fitness.
Besides, exercise is a productive way to kick-start your New Year’s resolution.
Finally, the most radical suggestion we can make is this: Allow space for gratitude. Appreciate the fact that you have a family—nuclear or otherwise—to be annoyed at.
Enjoy the wine and whiskey, the delicious food, the lazy days. Go out to lunch with a grandparent and offer to pay. Engage in a thoughtful discussion with your kind-of-racist uncle about how public perceptions of race are shaped by flawed policy making and biased editorializing.
Hug your brother when he asks you about your major and answer honestly: “I have no effing clue.”
Most of all, appreciate that you have a home, and time to waste once a year, when you drive around your town and avoid all the people you went to high school with. Not everyone has that.
From us at BTR, to you, dear reader: Happy holidays!
Feature photo courtesy of Deviant Art user muffet1.