I like to ap­proach the hol­i­day sea­son armed and ready for com­bat, which ba­si­cally means stock­ing up on booze some­time in mid-Novem­ber.


As a kid, I dreaded the end­less string of Christ­mas­re­lated en­gage­ments. As an adult, I’m not so ob­li­gated to at­tend. And yet, for six to eight weeks ev­ery year, I find my week­ends crowded with cel­e­bra­tory brunches, bar­be­ques, and back­yard ‘shindigs’ swarm­ing with un­known chil­dren – where do they all come from and how do they grow like that? It’s a time of ups and downs. The weather’s good. There’s plenty of food. But if you’re not care­ful, you’ll also find your­self buy­ing ter­ri­ble last minute gifts and nurs­ing un­fore­seen hang­overs on 40-de­gree days. If you’re go­ing to sur­vive, then you’re go­ing to need a plan. Here are a few ba­sics to get you started. One of the more awk­ward things about hol­i­day so­cial events is that peo­ple con­stantly force you to re­flect on the year – nor­mally out loud and to an au­di­ence of close friends, vague ac­quain­tances, and/or judg­men­tal fam­ily mem­bers. ‘What was your high­light, Amanda?’ asks your lawyer sis­ter, with her dog and three per­fect kids. Maybe your high­light was fin­ish­ing a PhD and start­ing your new life as an as­tro­naut. Or maybe your high­light was re­mem­ber­ing to floss. Ei­ther way, you’re now forced to fess up and let Grandma in on the de­tails you’d rather keep pri­vate. When it comes to this clas­sic hol­i­day sea­son con­ver­sa­tion, it pays to think ahead. Write out a list of ev­ery­thing you’ve achieved and rank your achieve­ments on the ba­sis of: most likely to im­press those high school friends you still see once a year. Then mem­o­rise the top five, draw them all to­gether into a five to seven minute story, and you’re set! If you’re strug­gling to get your story to­gether, then be pre­pared to de­flect with an ex­ces­sively con­fi­dent, ‘My year was GREAT! And how was yours?’

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