Dealing with Relatives
Your parents, your various second cousins, your bachelor uncle — they are perhaps all wonderful people, sure. But talk to them at your peril. Ideal conversations, as we know, max out after around 30 seconds. Your relatives have no concept of this, and will ensnare you for minutes, minutes that will feel like an eternity. What’s more, they will bandy about invasive questions such as “How are you doing?” and “What have you been up to?” What are you to tell them? Would you describe how you inflicted upon New York City a boys choir singing punk songs? Or that you were down in Miami doing unspeakable things while a friend ran away from the police for (allegedly!) bloodying a hotel scion? If a relative addresses you, the best recourse is to stare at them and walk away.
There will be dinner. This is something you can in no way avoid, so you might as well dominate the back-and-forth. Be sure to bring Italian wine, shipped directly from a friend’s vineyard in Chianti. For the next hour, you discuss tannins and notes, nose and finish. That is it.
Your parents have, in the intervening years between your departure and your inevitable independent success, attempted to replace you with a curly-haired dog named Josie. Josie, you tiny, furry.... thing, you are just the cutest! Except when there's food around. Take Josie, put her outside, ignore her cries.
“Where is your girlfriend?” an aunt you swear you’ve never seen in your life will ask. You realize then that you completely forgot to invite her.
Do you really need a walk-through here? This is one skill you've refined through the years. Let your innate greed guide the way.
After dazzling your nine-year-old cousin with your knowledge of wine regions for a few hours, it’s time for midnight mass. Alas, you have an appointment: there’s a call coming in from Moscow and you just have to take it. Your parents look confused. Mother, the Russians got rid of Christmas a long time ago, you explain to her. Plus, the time difference. And — this is the kicker — the call is from an associate of yours, an oil baron who’s donating millions to help tiny, blonde Russian orphans with big, sad blue eyes find homes in America. You are literally doing it for the kids. Not only do they let you skip church, you come off looking like an angel.
With the family off praying, this is a good time to make your own preferred recipe of eggnog: you get a whiskey glass, place inside of it four large ice cubes, and fill the glass with bourbon. It’s the best eggnog you’ll ever have.
Finally, when the family gets back from mass, everyone gathers around to watch a holiday film. You lead the charge here, for obvious reasons. Special eggnog in hand, you pick the best example of yuletide cinema there is: White Christmas. What? It's just a really great film.
As the snow falls over Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, you silently nod off. You have a big day tomorrow — immediately after packing your Christmas haul, you need to skip town and get on a flight to London. It’s very important, you explain. It’s urgent. And, of course, it’s for the kids.
Image by Michael Erazo-Kase