CHANCES ARE, your Thanksgiving plans tonight include having dinner with your family (if you’re lucky enough to be having a Friendsgiving celebration instead, please let us know what that’s like since we’ve never had one and probably never will). Which means, if your family is anything like ours, that there are bound to be a few peeps you’re not too, how should we put it, excited about seeing. You’re not ungrateful to have them in your life, per se, it’s just that you’d much rather show your appreciation for them with the comfortable distance of three or four states separating you. Alas, since you can seldom choose your family, you’re just going to have to suck it up and hope that the delicious food you’ll be shoveling into your mouth all night will be enough to make up for it. No one said you have to meet your fate with your arms tied behind your back, though (pro tip: make a beeline for wherever the host keeps the alcohol the moment you walk through the door – better yet, bring your own supply you can stash in your purse or boot). Here’s how to deal with those unique characters that will undoubtedly make an appearance solely as a divine test of your patience:
Okay, so it’s kind of hypocritical to be calling out your aunt for having a drinking problem when you’re sitting there with two or three shot-sized bottles of vodka just chillin’ in your bra. But, in your defense, you’ve never started tearing up over how “absolutely gorgeous” your grown, thirty-year-old daughter is after having one too many glasses of Chardonnay (true story). Never mind that you don’t have a thirty-year-old daughter, you’re positive that will never be you… you say as you slip off to the bathroom, casual cup of OJ in hand. Since you have the rep for being the “fun” niece, AA will undoubtedly try to corner you and get you to cosign her drunken shenanigans. This is not a good idea, unless you want to suffer withering death-stares from said thirty-year-old daughter and her sisters all night (not fun). Extricate yourself as gently as possible from the situation by making up some lie about how you’re on antibiotics or trying to live a sober life in the coming year since you’re grateful for having a functioning liver and want to keep it that way. If you’re feeling extra affectionate/pitying, do AA a solid and slip some water into her wine every time she’s not looking. If she won’t pace herself, someone has to do it for her, right?
Perfect Cousin might be an angel in your family’s eyes, but make no mistake: she was sent from hell — Louboutins, law degree and all — to be a perpetual thorn in your side at family functions. There’s nothing more insufferable than having to listen to how amazing her marriage and career are going and how regular her sh*ts are for the umpteenth time, especially since you know behind that saccharine smile, she’s thinking: “Can’t wait to hear all the ways your life doesn’t stack up to mine.” Besides passively antagonistic, Perfect Cousin is usually always boring as eff – finding ways to be perfect ALL THE F**KING TIME takes up 99% of your energy, and that other 1% of her energy is dedicated to bodily functions like breathing and blinking once every three minutes (efficiency is the pinnacle of perfection, in her book). The best way to deal with PC is to capitalize on how she instantly sucks the fun from any room she walks into by being the white hole to her black. Get your cousins and family involved in a game (drinking or otherwise), tell that funny story you’ve been saving for this very occasion, and make yourself the center of gravity by being your general, all-around amazing self. Sure, her life might be perfect, but you’re the life of the party, which is definitely much more important. At least, that’s what you should tell yourself.
Curious Grandma/Great-Aunt/Older Female Relative
This gem of a woman (in Spanish, we call them chismosas) always wants the 4-1-1 on what’s going on in your life. Whom you’ve been doing and how are always two topics of great interest to her. At first, it’s fun to gab with her: you crave being able to talk about your experiences with an older, wiser woman who’s been-there-done-that, but you’re not quite ready to divulge some of your innermost secrets to your mom. She’s got her hearing-aid turned up on MAX and she’s hanging on to your every word. You imagine this is what chilling with one of the Golden Girls would be like. And then she burns you. She casually lets one of your secrets slip in front of the family – “Who cares if Christine has a belly button ring, Jessica has had her clitoris pierced for three years now!” – and the fragile bond of trust you’ve been building breaks. She’ll say it was a slip of the tongue, but you know better – that devilish gleam behind her glaucoma-clouded eyes gives her away. What you have to do is play it off like it doesn’t faze you, and then set her up for a big fall. You’ll need to recruit some of your cousins for this. Feed her some wild story about that orgy you were in when you found yourself in the mosh pit at an Enya concert (she’s old, she won’t know, trust), and when she lets her bomb drop in front of the family, your cousins can rush to your defense, saying “Hey, we were with Jess at that Enya concert, and she was doing the Orinoco Flow with us the whole time!” And then you can swoop in with a sympathetic: “Grams, I know you say taking your heart meds with cooking sherry is the only way to get them to go down, but you should really stop, I think it’s starting to mess with your head.” The old bat won’t know what hit her. Sometimes your family members just can’t be your friends, too.
Stone-Cold Fox of a Relative
This one is hard to talk about, but it has to be done because, as much most of us like to pretend it doesn’t, it happens. You ring the doorbell, mentally preparing yourself to deal with the aforementioned peeps you’ll be encountering, and instead of your Uncle Charles in his sweater-vest of the week answering the door… it’s the finest man you’ve encountered in recent memory. 6’4”, great teeth, biceps that just won’t quit… “Tonight might not be so bad after all,” you think as you smile and start introducing yourself. But there must be something stuck in your teeth because he’s staring at you like you’re a weirdo, and now there’s a look of confusion in his startlingly-familiar eyes and OMG IT’S YOUR COUSIN GEORGE YOU’VE BEEN PERVING ON YOUR COUSIN GEORGE. You play it off as a joke and hastily move inside because there’s a line of people NOT looking to scam on their relatives trying to get in behind you, but the damage has been done: you realize that you were officially having flirtatious, if not outright sexual, thoughts about the kid you used to call a loser for playing World of Warcraft all day. Let us first console you by saying that it’s not your fault, you couldn’t possibly predict that he would go from a 2.9 to a 15 while he was away at college this past year. “So it’s OK to think he’s hot,” you sigh in relief, “that means I can…” Nuh-uh, girl. You can’t. That’s your COUSIN out there you’ve got the hots for. What you need to do, starting this very moment, is condition yourself to be grossed out by him. Think of the foulest, most putrid, vomit-inducing image you can — and it had better make The Walking Dead look like it was produced by Nickelodeon. Now that you have it firmly in your mind’s eye, you must associate this image with him from now on. Think of it every time you hear his name. Every time you see him, remember all those zits he had, the ones you longed to inject with cortisone, and mentally Photoshop them on that creamy, beautiful, perfect complexion of his. Pretty soon, you won’t be able to stand the sight of him, and you’ll be physically repulsed every time he enters the room. Yeah, you’ll basically lose a cousin in the process (who probably has hot, totally within-limits friends), but, hey, that’s a small price to pay for your sanity and the ability to gobble down turkey with peace of mind.