Have yourself a stressful family Christmas

By Jordan schroeer

schroeerjo@mnstate.edu

After surviving the perils of finals week, you now have to survive something no professor gave you a study guide for. You have to face your relatives and endure another family Christmas.

At first, you’re excited at the prospect of heading home to your old room, which is quite possibly storage by now, and chatting with the family. Along with your parents and siblings at the holidays, come grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins and that person in the corner no one knows the relation to.

Going to family Christmas can be compared to a midnight run to McDonalds. Sober. It sounds like fun at first. You’re even excited. “It’s been forever since I’ve had the McRib,” (known as Aunt Cheryl) you think. Then you get there, look around and can’t help think everyone seems a little weird.

Uncle Dean is the first to notice you. “How’s it going, College Boy?” He puts extra emphasis on the words College Boy because he never went past high school.

You’re obliged to give the generic, “Oh, it’s good.”

He notices the different clothes you’re wearing compared to the loose jeans and hoodies you wore in your small town high school. While you’re not dressed for a formal dinner, you decided to go with a flannel, cardigan, skinny jeans and leather boots. Stylish.

“Look at you all ‘in style,’” he snarks. “You turn into one of those hapsters?”

“Uh, they’re called hipsters and no. I just like how it looked,” you reply with a smile even though you want to kick him in the rear with your “hapster” leather boots.

At this point, you take notice of the food and snacks being served and mention something about how hungry you are. This will allow you to escape your uncle’s interrogation while being completely friendly.

As you’re moseying on over to the food, Grandma Elsie lets out a shriek of joy. “Ooooohhhhh! Come over here my Little Helper.”—your nickname since age 5.

“Grandma!” You’re actually happy to see her, especially after the conversation with your uncle. You know she won’t question your clothing choice because she can’t see all that well.

“My boy, how’s college? Did you get A’s? Are you staying warm? Is the food good? Are you eating enough? How’s your roommate? You talk to your cousins lately?” 

Finally, she asks the big question. “You chasing around any girls?”

That makes 15 minutes before someone brought up dating life. “Oh Grandma, you know you’re the only woman I have time for in my life.”

This one really gets her. It’s a great way to avoid the subject with flattery. She’s going to repeat that line to her friends with hearing aids at fellowship after church next Sunday.

By this time, one of your other family members will offer to fill Grandma’s coffee. That’s your chance to quickly leave and get the food.

You’re dodging relatives and conversation like landmines in war. However, you can’t dodge them all. BOOM! You’ve been hit.

Aunt Karen grabs your arm as you’re walking away with a plate full of delicious food (The one thing your relatives can do well is cook, and it shows).

“My, my, my,” your aunt mutters while looking you up and down. She’s up-to-date with her fashion sense, so the clothes won’t be the topic of this conversation. It’s something worse.

“Are you eating, dear?” Yup, there it is, the inevitable discussion of weight. You’re too fat, too broad, too narrow or too skinny.

“Oh, I’m definitely eating more than enough,” you say, showing her your overflowing plate of green bean casserole, ham and mashed potatoes.

“Well, you’re looking awful thin. Too skinny. You know girls like a real man with some shoulders to grab.”

You didn’t think it could be done, but your aunt successfully brought your weight and dating life into the same conversation within two minutes of meeting her.

“Well, I’m not looking to impress any girl right now,” you reply. In fact, you’re not looking to impress any girl, ever. If your extended family knew you were trying to impress men of the same persuasion, the next family gathering would be held in a church.

Your aunt keeps going on about how she met your uncle in college, so you really should keep your options open.

“I’m gonna grab a beer,” you say walking away at the same time. Doesn’t matter if you’re under 21—you need it.

Finally, no one is talking to you, and you can sit down at the table. Looking around, you start to think the kids’ table wasn’t all that bad, and you start to miss your friends sitting around the tables at Kise.

The McRib wasn’t worth it. You leave the McDonald’s just feeling bad about yourself, promising to never return.

But every year around this time, you go back on the promise. After several months, Aunt Cheryl seems like she might be enjoyable to chat with again.

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