Smile and Nod: Surviving the Holidays Like a Pro



There’s only one word to describe going home for the holidays: stress.

Natalie Chinn, Staff Writer

There’s only one word to describe going home for the holidays: stress.

Exhausted from a week of cramming for finals and writing essays through the night, all you really want to do is lie in your own bed, cuddle with your dog and sleep without disruption. With the addition of potential jet lag and an alarming realization of how different suburban life is from the city, this time is essential in processing the change of environment.

But we all know there’s no time to rest. From family gatherings at your grandparents’ house to parties full of people you see twice a year, the holiday season is a train that keeps on chugging. And despite the mental exhaustion, you manage to put on a smile, hug your relatives and make small talk like the champ you are.

However, family gatherings can often result in awkward conversations and disagreements.  While these uncomfortable situations are stressful and hard to maneuver, there are a few ways to avoid any disastrous dialogues.

First, before you show up to any holiday parties, try to create of lists of topics you want to steer clear of in conversation. Obviously, you can’t escape the overwhelming bombardment of “how’s college?” but you can attempt to avoid a tight-lipped dialogue with your narrow-minded Uncle Joe. Thinking about these conversations beforehand could save you from being caught off guard.

Develop a game plan for tackling these exchanges. While walking away and hiding in another room seems pretty foolproof, sooner or later your mom will come looking for you. Instead, try switching to more positive subjects. Some great neutral subjects that most people can agree on are food, the weather and cute animals.

After you flee from the scene, make sure you have a buddy to immediately rant to about it. Whether they’re your cousin who’s in the same shoes as you or your best friend waiting for the text update, it’s important to have someone who will listen as you release all the pent-up thoughts and emotions.

During these hectic holiday get-togethers, you may be inclined to turn toward some mind-numbing substances. Even though eggnog is both festive and stress relieving, using alcohol to cope with your family and friends may take your night in a direction you didn’t intend. The temptation is real, but be safe.

Even though we joke about returning home to crazy relatives and not being able to survive, cherish the time home with family and make the best out of the short time with them. The holidays are all about reconnecting, making memories and having fun with those you love. Do not let the stress of family drama or uncomfortable conversations ruin what could be a great evening.

Email Natalie Chinn at [email protected].