Ah, it’s time to head home for the holidays. Good news! You’ll run into family members that you haven’t seen in years. You’ll be asked about your relationship status (at least 100 times.) You’ll be asked to teach your elderly relatives how to use their phone. Jennifer Byrne, author of THE LAZY GIRL’S GUIDE TO LIFE, shares how to nail the holidays with your family
You love your life: You’ve worked hard to get out of your hometown, establish a career, buy a house, and make great friends. You’re a confident, intelligent, accomplished woman who works hard, is the life of the party, and is deserving of love and respect. You’re attractive. You haven’t had a bad perm for literally years.
These are just some of the affirmations you will need to say to yourself in order to survive dragging yourself home—or even to an isolated family function—for the holidays.
It’s always the same: At first, you look forward to getting there, telling them about the recent developments in your life, relating to them as a fellow adult. Then you get there, and as far as they’re concerned, you’re still the twelve-year-old in the peach-colored eighties glasses and a sweatshirt with a wolf on it. They listen to you pretending to be a grownup for about ten minutes, then your cousin Jimmy gives you an Indian rope burn and calls you “Spazz,” his old nickname for you. Your dad asks if you’ve let your car run out of gas lately (a bad habit from your youth), and Aunt Marie asks if you’re still single as if she were asking if you still have malaria.
Some things never change. But wait—you’ve changed! Why can’t your family see that? But since yelling “I’m a grown-up! ” at your family won’t actually make them see you as an adult, here are some slightly less crazy, less confrontational ways to make it through.
Lazy Girl Hack: Bring Souvenirs from Your Real Life
Families suffer from a kind of collective poor vision—all they can see are the designated family roles they established years ago. So if you’re the family nerd, the loser, or the spazz, their tendency will be to see that—even if you have three doctoral degrees and have won the Nobel Prize.
One strategy I find useful when visiting family is to bring a souvenir from your real life. is can be anything that reminds you of your current life and who you really are, which is very different from the outdated memories your family might still maintain. Best of all is a human souvenir, like a good friend who doesn’t want to see their family, either. If you can’t bring a person, try to have a friend on hand to talk to on the phone or by text, just to give you reminders that you are understood, valued, and highly regarded as a fully adult human being. Or, if you’re in a pinch, just bring your Nobel Prize along for the trip.
Lazy Girl Hack: Don’t Try to “Sell” Yourself
One trap grown children fall into during the holidays is to try to “sell” the new, mature version of themselves to their family members. is isn’t necessary or helpful. Families are quite resistant to updating their ideas of who you are now. If you were a little kid with pigtails, Great Aunt Edna might not be able to accommodate your current identity as a political activist and roller derby queen. No matter. It’s not important. You don’t need to convince Great Aunt Edna of anything, no more than she needs to convince you that her nose hair is not a living creature.
Lazy Girl Hack: Try Not to Be Hurt
It’s possible that someone in your family might say something hurtful about your current life. Maybe Uncle George will say, “Well, I thought you had more sense than to try to open a dog bakery during a recession. What is a dog bakery? Do you bake dogs?” Or “Hmm, so your boyfriend is a musician. Does that mean he’s unemployed?” Or “Oh, so you’re a vegetarian. Doesn’t that kind of conflict with your dog bakery?” There is really no end to the things family members might try to say, especially if your lifestyle seems threatening or opposed to their way of life. I would advise returning to the mantra that “My life is good. This isn’t my real life. This is a bizarre suspended reality known as the holidays.” And it will be over, and you’ll survive it. You want to project a quiet dignity, a sort of “I’m past all your nonsense” aura. It really is a wonderful life. Honest!
Need some more lazy girl hacks? Maintain flawless skin with these 3 tips.