Life Lesson #4: Holiday Coping Mechanisms

You’re now a successful, employed, sexually active adult. You’re welcome for all that, by the way. I have been waiting for your thank you notes, but so far, nothing.

Maybe you’ve been too busy playing Modern Warfare, but the holidays are approaching, and soon you will be subjected to countless hours of holiday gatherings. You’ll be obligated to attend meals and parties when you’d really much rather be sitting on the couch watching the cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and drinking Jim Beam straight out of the bottle.

In the spirit of the season, I give this gift to you: my secrets for surviving the holidays with your sanity and self-respect intact.

The vast majority of you will be invited to a large family meal at the home of an aunt, grandmother, or other distant relative. Family Dinner is a minefield of weirdness, and navigating it without stepping on the “You Voted for Obama?!?” grenade is tricky.

The first rule of Family Dinner is never talk about anything that matters. Agreeable topics are the weather, the sad state of the Saints’ secondary, how much LSU football rules, the day trip you took to the zoo, how great the new Chick-fil-A on College Drive is, and how much you liked the last Hallmark Original Movie you saw. Also acceptable: how heroic Gabby Giffords is, how cute someone’s baby is, and how glad you are that Aunt Jeannie is recovering from her gall bladder surgery. (She looks really healthy, doesn’t she?)

If you run out of things to talk about, just excuse yourself for more pie and start the same conversation with another relative.

If you run out of things to talk about, just excuse yourself for more pie and start the same conversation with another relative. If you don’t stick with the assigned topics, you might find yourself answering questions about your life. It’s a trap!

The key here is deflection. It doesn’t matter what you ask; just get the attention off of yourself as quickly as possible. Here are some stock answers, ready to go:

  • “I haven’t been dating much; I’m focusing on my (career, job search, schoolwork, hobby). How’s your (bowling team, time-share vacation home, dachshund puppy)?”
  • “My (grades are, job is) fine, and I am making progress toward (graduating, getting promoted). How’s your (replacement hip, Etsy store, gay son who isn’t here)?”
  • If you feel like stirring the pot, or if you want to make sure this person stops talking to you all night, you could try: “How’s your (mistress, impotence problem, racist country club)?”

The second rule of Family Dinner is don’t get sloshed unless your dad and/or the owner of the house gets sloshed. And don’t get as sloshed as he or she does.

Being intoxicated seems like a good coping mechanism for getting through these mandatory family functions, but too many eggnogs can lessen your resolve, and before you know it, you’ll have broken the first rule of Family Dinner. You’ll be arguing with Uncle Monty about Herman Cain’s Libya plan, and you’ll never be invited to Family Dinner again.

Hmm, now that I think of it, that’s not really a bad thing, is it?

The third and final rule of Family Dinner, and of the whole holiday season, and every day, is DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE. We wouldn’t want you showing up in the Blood Alcohol Championship Series. Call Tipsy Taxi at 225-926-6400.

About Mrs. Judge Mental

Mrs. Judge Mental, Your Professional Life Coachâ„¢, is a noted expert in absolutely nothing. She is, however, ready to solve your problems using only a foot of dental floss, a toothpick, and Wikipedia.

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