|In a nutshell|
Going home for the holidays is great because it's a very rare occasion that all five of us (parentals + brothers + me) are in the same place at the same time, but in our household, the Three Day Rule stands: We love hanging out, laughing, retelling stories for the thousandth time, eating disgusting amounts of food, and sharing an understanding that the dog is the best thing that ever happened to the entire world; but after 72 hours, it's definitely time to go.
I'm sure your family is the same way. How does one survive family time without completely losing their shit? You make a game out of it, of course! See also: alcohol.
Keep Away: If every single member of your extended family gets along swimmingly, you practice witchcraft. We're all blood and should love each other unconditionally, blah blah blah, NEWS FLASH: Here in the real world, Uncle Ned and Cousin Bradley hate each other's guts. It's fantastic. What's not fantastic is their differing religious beliefs ruining the enjoyment of perfectly good stuffing, so it's fun to get creative with how far away from each other you can actually keep them.
"Hey Uncle Ned! Have you ever seen my dance recital video from 1998? They're watching it now in the basement! All the way downstairs! Yep keep going."
"Cousin Bradley remember when you backpacked through Europe? See if you still have your hiking skills and go upstairs."
Mad Libs: My grandma has gotten to the point where she can't remember anything. Conversations are carousel rides that touch on relationship status, how you like your job, if where you live is safe, and when you're coming to visit her. And round and round we go. If you truthfully answered these questions each time she asked (roughly 15 times each over the course of an hour), you would go crazy. Answering them differently each time may earn you dirty looks from the others, but Grandma is very accepting of whatever answer you give her (unless you say you're single), so you might as well keep it interesting.
Wait What?: My mom has an interesting habit of listening to you until she doesn't feel like it anymore, i.e. you're in the middle of your story and you can see her mentally removing herself from the moment. It's incredibly frustrating if you're not ready for it. If you are, you seize the opportunity and start talking about absolute bullshit. The goal is to see how absurd of a point you can get your story to until she tunes back in.
"Oh so I went to this networking event a few weeks ago in the Lower East Side. It was cool, lots of freelance writers and..." *there she goes* "...heroin. Heroin everywhere. I shot it up with a midget who looked like the mini love child of Steve Buscemi and Giada de Laurentiis. His veins were collapsed so we had to find one in the bottom of his leprechaun foot. I also ate like five shish kabobs-" "FIVE?!"
Puppy Puke: People watch TV shows and think it's okay to give the dog human food because that's how kids on 1950s sitcoms got rid of their brussel sprouts. LOL classic. Fast forward to the pooch consuming turkey, cornbread, peas, and rice casserole over the course of three hours and try to guess if he'll puke all over the living room before or after your brother conveniently disappears when it's time to do the dishes. Another approach is to count the amount of times you tell your dad not to give the dog any people food because it's really not good for him, only to have him respond, "He likes it!" then tell you you're overreacting when you call him stupid while blotting vomit out of a rug. I hope you're reading this, Bill.
The Significant Otherlympics: Family calamity is one thing when you're generally immune to it. When you're an outsider who's trying to impress everyone while acting like the suffocating passive aggression wafting over the table isn't awkward at all, the holidays are taken to a completely new level. Watching your sibling's "special friend" try to keep their facial twitch under control while Aunt Susan blatantly insults your mom's cooking might as well be the height of a figure skater's triple axel: will they nail it? Will they fall? WHAT WILL HAPPEN? When two or more boyfriend/girlfriends are present at the table, you can pit them against each other in a battle of wits to see who deserves to still be around come Valentine's Day:
"Hey Pete, you're really pro gun control right?"
"And Brooke, you're an atheist right?"
"Wonderful. Have you met my grandpa? The 65-year member of the NRA and ruthless Catholic? Aaand GO!"
Good luck this holiday season! Maybe the fam will finally remember that you're a vegetarian (and have been since 2009) this year! Just kidding, they won't.
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