Walking into my childhood home, I am hit with a familiar smell. Memories of laughter and love flood through my mind as I bask in the memorable house smell. However, the memories of warmth and familiarity come at a cost.
Mom and Dad, you may want to skip this article.
The holidays can be a precious time, an epoch for rekindling relationships with distant relatives or catching up with cousins that seemed to have grown up overnight. However, the holidays can also be a nightmare for an introvert.
With a hurricane of questions that hits you as soon as your foot dares to step inside, it can be overwhelming. Suddenly, the multiple exams you took the week before seem like child’s play compared to the interrogation you are receiving. Questions seem to race at an alarming pace — such as “Have you found a special partner?” “What’s your current GPA?” or “What are you doing after college?” — and give me a different perspective on how much I miss the peace of the dorm rooms compared to that firework show.
If you’re like me, and need a little help, here are some tips to avoid the inevitable investigations over the holidays.
The first tip is to stay busy. Do the kids want to play with you? Perfect. Kids don’t shower you with adult questions that you’re not ready to answer. Kids couldn’t care less whether or not you have an internship for the summer or why you chose a school so far from home. They only care that they can be the hero in the game of make-believe.
The second tip I would suggest is to keep your mouth full. Rolls are your best friend. You can’t answer questions if you’re chewing. You can also divert the conversation to the food that is being served, mention how good it is or how long it must have taken to make.
The final tip that I have is to ask questions back. If you can’t find the kids and the eating is making you too full, this is a great one. People love to talk about themselves. If they ask you difficult questions or say statements like, “Why are you going to a private school if your dream job doesn’t make much money?,” feel free to fire questions back such as, “Why are you getting married for a third time if your first two marriages didn’t work out?”
Although my examples may be slightly satirical, the principles remain the same.
Stay busy enjoying your family’s company. Life is so short, and there are only a few holiday seasons in the grand scheme of life that allow for the communion of loved ones. Enjoy the family meals that coincide with the holidays. Recipes can bond families. Whether through the labor and sacrifice poured into the meals or through the nostalgia of the dishes, the food served during the holidays brings loved ones closer together.
Finally, definitely ask questions back, but in a less hostile way — you don’t want to be blacklisted from holiday dinners next year. People love talking about themselves, so feel free to ask genuine questions about their lives. Not only does this act bring you closer to your family, but it takes the heat off of you.
The holiday season can be stressful for many people. Whether that’s because of the inability to see loved ones or seeing too many at once, it can bring up a storm of exhausting emotions.
The key to getting through this stressful time is to know that you are loved. Whether family seems like a million miles away or right next to you, the people in your life care about you. With this perspective, it’s easy to recognize the probing questions for what they truly are — a chance to connect with you and glimpse into your life.