Parents. They spend the first 18 years of your life counting down the days until you’re out of the house, but once you’re all moved out and have a career, a life, and a significant other of your own, all of a sudden they want you back. All of the time. And especially around the holidays.
If you’re craving some much-needed time away from your family this November and December, here’s how you do it:
1. Make a strong decision and stick to it.
Once you’ve decided that you’re not going to spend the holidays with your family, you need to promise yourself that you won’t back down from that assertion, no matter how much guilt you’ll probably endure from your overbearing parents. Write it down 50 times. Make a fucking vision board. Tattoo it across your chest, backward, like Guy Pearce in Memento. I don’t care, just as long as you do whatever it takes to remember how imperative it is not to backpedal.
2. Pick up the phone.
Text messages and emails are cold and impersonal, so go ahead and take the time to pick up the phone and call whomever you’ll be disappointing with news of your absence. They’ll appreciate the call — relatives love it when you call – and the gesture will help to foster trust and affection. Then, when there’s a lull in the pleasantries, break the news to them…gently. It’s not something that should be hurled at them like a hand grenade (though there are probably some relatives you wouldn’t mind barraging with emotional shrapnel). Instead, let them know how much you “regret” not being able to see them this year, and sound like you really mean it. Feel free to use a canned phrase here like, “hey, don’t worry, there’s always next year!” even though you fully intend on skipping next year, too.
3. Milk a traumatic experience.
Remember, these people love you and care about your well-being…so you should totally take advantage of that. If you find that you’re encountering some resistance on the other end of the phone, bring up a bit of bad luck that recently befell you — getting laid off from a job, losing your wallet…hell, you can make a bad haircut sound downright harrowing if you do it right. Claim that “the holidays are going to be tough” for you this year financially or mentally, and you’ll likely be granted a reprieve.
4. Offer a placating visit.
If your mom, dad, or nana still can’t accept the fact that you won’t be rotting at the other end of their dinner table come holiday time, you might have to agree to go over there in the weeks or days before. This may sound contradictory, but offering a placating visit ahead of the holidays can be your ticket to a familyless Thanksgiving or Christmas. Non-holiday visits don’t carry with them the expectation of a long stay full of endless meals and inane small talk. A simple pop-in will do. Sure, a pop-in might not seem worth the train ride or drive, but all that traveling will give you ample time to catch up on episodes of Serial, which you’ve been totally meaning to do since your friend told you about it.
5. Lay off social media.
Though it will be tempting to Instagram your Fresh Direct turkey dinner on Thanksgiving or drunkenly tweet about binge-watching American Horror Story in your pajamas on Christmas Day, you must resist the urge to let the outside world know just how much fun you’re having in the comfort of your own home. If you do, you run the risk of one of your relatives finding out (if you’re unfortunate enough to be friends with them on Facebook). Then, on top of them already being mad at you for not spending the holidays with them, they’ll be even madder about you enjoying the fact that you’re not spending the holidays with them. And that is a Möbius strip of drama you just don’t need in your life.
6. If you do get homesick, turn on Fox News…or MSNBC…or CNN.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that you’ll miss some members of your family. After all, just because you don’t want to see them doesn’t mean you don’t love them on some level. If you find yourself experiencing even the most minuscule pang of regret, flip on any talking-head political commentary program to remind yourself of the awkward, incendiary, racially-charged arguments you’d most likely find yourself mired in with family members who don’t share your world view. Your regret will dissipate into jubilee before Chuck Todd can finish his question about the Ferguson riots to Pat Buchanan on Meet the Press.
Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays…your home.