The Holiday Season Survival Guide: Millennial Edition
Unless you’re spending the holidays like Scrooge pre-epiphany – by yourself – you are about to face one of the most danger-ridden social situations of the year: the Time of Personal Questions. (Quick, someone write a Dickensian fanfic on Tumblr about Scrooge where his real reason for being so Scroogey is that he doesn't want to face personal questions.)
If you’re single, you’re going to be asked if you’ve met anyone, or just straight up why you're still single. If you have a boyfriend/girlfriend, you’re going to be asked when you’re getting married. If you’re engaged or married, you’re going to be asked when you’re having kids. If you have kids, you’re going to be asked when you’re having more, or if you’re done. All of these questions come with complimentary uninvited advice.
There is no true escape from the personal questions until you yourself are old enough to start asking the young whippersnappers those very same questions. Even if someone in the room recently had some sort of Life Event happen, the questions will be merely delayed. You can only talk about one person’s Life Event for so long, and there are only so many young people around.
Thankfully, in the meantime, there are several ways to avoid, or at least put off, the inevitable questions:
First Line of Defense: Keep a constant stream of food and drink in your mouth. (I recommend chocolate eggnog, which is proof that the free market is necessary for the pursuit of happiness. Get you some.) No one will think this is odd because it’s a holiday necessity anyway. Everyone knows that if you don’t gain at least five pounds in the 48 hours encompassing your particular holiday, you’re doing it wrong.
If someone comments on the fact that you seem to be feasting rather a lot, use the above excuse and then show them an app like Big Oven you found recently which finds recipes based on the very few, very random things you have left in your house, and Vivino, which is basically a sommelier in your pocket. And then show them your dessert board on Pinterest and let that segue into pins of cute kittens and Gifs of funny dogs.
Warning: do not let any pictures of couples and/or babies be seen, or you’ll ruin the whole thing.
Second Line of Defense: Recruit a partner. Whether it’s a sibling who’s in the same predicament you are, a cousin who’s basically your best friend, or a parent/aunt/uncle who’s miraculously chill and does not ask you personal questions themselves, come up with a battle plan before venturing into the fray and relax in the knowledge that someone has your back.
Third Line of Defense: Do not pause for breath in your conversation. We all know That Guy who’s impossible to talk to because he never shuts up. Like, at all. Like, his lungs must be inhuman. Channel That Guy and bombard your questioner with words until you effectively build a wall.
Level Up: adopt a slightly annoying tone to your voice. But not around your mother, because she’ll call you out on it and you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life right now.
Fourth Line of Defense: Play with the children. On the floor. Preferably with toys that are high-tech enough to confound your older relations into silence and shaking heads and talk about "in their day." The floor is the No-Adult-Talk Zone and it is sacred. So sacred that it’s actually physically impossible to break the forcefield of childish chatter; unless it’s Your One Aunt who is absolutely hell-bent on peering into the cracks of your love life and is somehow immune to the sacredness of the floor. (Silently vow to be that stubborn.)
Fifth Line of Defense: DJ that holiday music like a boss. If your host is going old school and playing music from CDs – or going full retro and playing from vinyl – go through their collection and when people come up to talk, “misunderstand” what they’ve said and say, “Oh I’m just looking for a good album to follow up on this vibe we have going.” Every time they start to ask a personal question, interrupt them with, “What do you think about this one? Do you think we want songs with or without lyrics? Is Mannheim Steamroller too edgy for this? Oh look it’s Bing Crosby I love his Christmas collection it always reminds me of when I was eight and we went driving to look at the Christmas lights in the city park and the dog got all excited and my mom freaked out in case my dad lost control of the car because of the dog which was hilarious because I was eight but I hadn’t outgrown my carsickness yet and...”
If they’re using a playlist, scroll through every song ever written to “organize the queue.” Adjust the bass and treble constantly. Look very serious about deciding whether or not to have the fade settings turned on, and change the settings with each song. “Optimize the Bluetooth settings,” even if there are none. Start to cry nostalgically over a childhood memory until you make a Protective Ring of Awkwardness around you. You've got options.
Sixth Line of Defense: Your phone. Look at it and don’t look up. This is highly frowned upon, and rightly so, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Maybe don’t do it when your mom can see.
Seventh Line of Defense: Hiding. It doesn’t count as losing because you’re still avoiding the questions. Hide in the bathroom, this is classic. Hide in a corner of the kitchen so you still have food and chocolate eggnog. Hide in the den where all the Menfolk are watching Sports. (They tend not to ask questions as much as the Womenfolk, and if they do, direct them back to the game. It's pretty easy. Or gush over the ads until they tell you to be quiet.) Hide in the car so you can listen to your murder podcast in peace. Hide in a corner of the couch with a book. Hide in plain sight by “accidentally” falling asleep. Those fluffy blankets weren't invented to be looked at.
And let me know if you escape victorious so I can take notes for myself for future reference.
Originally published on fee.org.