Holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year, but they can also be the most dreaded.
Every year during the festive season, families all over the country come together and share meals, presents and what is supposed to be “pleasant” conversation.
But if your family is anything like mine, then you know at least a handful of those conversations you'll encounter during your Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah meal are very, very unpleasant.
Every year when I make the 3,000-mile trek back home to see my loved ones, I'm greeted with at least a hundred questions about my life.
“How's work going?”
“When are you going to meet someone and settle down?”
“You look thin. Are you sure you're eating?”
“Are you planning on moving back to the West Coast soon?”
I've decided I can deal with approximately seven days of family time.
The first two I spend jet-lagged, the next three days are usually enjoyable moments of catching up with loved ones and the last two days I've pretty much had it with politeness and fake smiles, and I'm googling how much it would cost to bump my return flight up.
For these last two days, I've developed a system to get through all of those awkward conversations.
1. Laugh your way out of everything.
I laugh all the time. In college, I actually had a professor ask me whether my laughing came from nervousness, or I just generally found everything humorous.
I told him I laugh because it makes people feel comfortable, even if I'm not interested in what they're saying.
And it's the truth.
So the next time you find yourself in an awkward conversation that you don't want to comment on, laugh your way out of it.
2. Kill them with kindness.
It's a basic tactic when dealing with conflict, but instead of going on the defense the next time someone asks you why you don't have a boyfriend or girlfriend yet, try responding to them with a compliment.
For example, you can say something like, “I really appreciate how caring you are. The right person just hasn't come along. But, I'm excited for the day I get to introduce them to you.”
It takes the attention away from you, and it ends the conversation right then and there.
3. If all else fails, create a diversion.
Sometimes the only way out of something is to hide. Whenever I go to a family gathering, I like to pick out my diversion tactic immediately upon entering the room.
Is there a cute dog at the family party? Perfect.
Anytime your relative brings up politics or starts repeating a story you've heard at least a dozen times, point out how cute something is that the dog just did and change the conversation.
Pro tip: This also works for small children, cute grandparents and really good food.