Get Away for the Holidays… From Your Family

Colleen Burke and Devin Mottier, Staff Writers

This time of year, stories are told about the stereotypical relatives that come and visit for the holidays. These lame tales are nothing compared to your own family. That thought soon comes back to bite you as your parents pat you on the back and say, “it’s only a couple of days. Be nice sweetie.”

Adults don’t seem to understand the impact of the wild, overbearing, and straight up crazy family that end up crowding your house and overwhelming you and your siblings.
It all starts when they walk in the door. The atmosphere changes, old people cackles echo in the room, and what once felt like home is now an endless train of horrible gifts brought back from vacations to Nebraska and Albuquerque. “The Family” has arrived.

The least intimidating members of the pack are the frail little angels you call Grandma and Grandpa, so you might as well greet them first.
First through the door is the traditional grandmother – overbearing, a bit “off” and although old, this woman hobbles as if she’s a crazy, wrinkly leopard on the prowl. She’s earned the coveted line leader position when it comes to giving you a huge hug, making remarks on how tall you’ve gotten, and pinching your “oh so cute and rosy” cheeks. They weren’t so rosy before she got there.

Following shortly behind is her loyal husband. Loyal to his past that is. He can’t wait to tell you the war stories that you’ve heard just about every holiday since you were old enough to comprehend them and of course the crazy anecdotes from his glory days. The family-renowned “back in the day when things were better than now” stories are by far the best.
He promptly informs you of how things were better way back when, that kids these days are hooligans, and what kinds of music to listen to, veering us away from those “loud fools who swear in rhymes.”

As the train continues through the door, comments on how you’ve grown and questions about how school is going shoot through your ears like a broken record.

In preparation for this unfortunately common interaction, you must have a series of answers to somewhat generic questions lined up in your head. That way you can avoid any uncomfortable small talk and leave as fast as possible.

Then comes another common issue is the awkward conversation starter. They come up, ask you a simple question and never leave. The best way to go about this is to quickly leave as if you have something better to do and walk up to the most talkative relative in the group. Chances are they will drone on until dinner time.

If that doesn’t work you can always play with the youngest children. Yes, they will most likely pull your hair or throw stuff, but at least they don’t make awkward conversation. The only problem here is that the four-and-under age group is a pain to deal with for too long because you tend to get injured after a few minutes on account of the flying wooden alphabet blocks.

Promptly leave the kids corner and walk off. Prior plans must soon be aborted when your loud and foreign aunt decides that this would be the opportune moment to ask about your personal life. This is where things get ugly.

She isn’t blood related, but thinks she knows everything about everything because she didn’t live in America all her life, making her cultured and better than the entire population of the room.

The night slowly drags on, her accent gets thicker and her questions become difficult to understand. Now is the time to whip out the monologue that is filed right next to your list of answers. It is concise, something that would probably only get you a B in drama, but it works for this occasion.

It states that school and sports take up any free time and that is all you need to focus on for now. That and your family of course. Your aunt is satisfied with this and moves on to prey on a different unsuspecting family member.

Once most of your familial duties are fulfilled and your parents are entranced by your grandfather’s loud war-stories, you can make a break for it. Grab a generous plate of food, weave your way through the guests, and book it to your room. There you can spend the remainder of the night entertaining yourself with anything but your relatives’ stories and gorging yourself into a tryptophan-induced slumber.

Unfortunately there is one last thing to do. March out of your room, towards the door, and through the crowd of relatives to await yet another line full of “hope to see you again soons” and “oh deary that was such a wonderful nights.” Only after the door is closed and locked is the night truly over and you’re safe from the crazies. Occasionally there’s a straggler who stays until the wee hours of the night, but this is easy to deal with. Give them a half hug, mosey off to bed because you have far too much homework to stay up any later. See, school really is helpful.