Your holiday dinner table isn’t the internet. This means that most of the people you gather with aren’t likely to call you a Hitler-lover if you run afoul of their political philosophies. Conversations can get heated, but hopefully everyone can remember to breathe and you can navigate the situation in a way that doesn’t cause too much discomfort.
The real unsung heroes of holiday destruction are more insidious than mere conversation. Here are the five things that can ruin your holiday, unless you can see them coming:
That Aunt That Kisses You Square On the Mouth
You know it’s coming every year. That strangely affectionate aunt of yours walks through the front door — a fresh coat of pale pink lipstick glistening under a string of lights and maybe a few stray lip hairs — and she starts making the rounds. You hide, but it’s always for naught and your lips always wind up covered in a smear of that same pink lipstick.
How to avoid: Race up to her before she starts thinking “kiss” and tell her that you two need a secret handshake, like Jazz and The Fresh Prince.
Getting Roped Into a Vegan Celebration
You’re the bacon guy — bacon cologne, bacon neckties, Nick Offerman idol in your office made out of bacon — but some of your friends are all about maintaining their vegan powers. To each their own, right? Usually, but in that you’re all about being sociable over the holidays, you’re pretty much required to eat tofurkey and endure conversations about how a vegan lifestyle promotes spiritual clarity.
How to avoid: Besides passing on the invite, you’re pretty much stuck. If you’re spending the holidays with a vegan friend, try to be grateful publicly even while your private landscape is a dessert-less desert of despair.
Getting Your Wisdom Teeth Pulled
Nothing says, “welcome home!” like four gaping holes in the back of your mouth. Unfortunately, having wisdom teeth pulled is practically a rite of passage for college kids returning home for the holidays (because you’ve gritted through it for a month so that your parents will pay for it). If you’re among the unlucky, under-evolved bunch whose gullet has plenty of room for holiday treats but not enough room for four wisdom teeth, expect at least one holiday to be ruined by this unfortunate oral surgery.
How to avoid it: Better mouth-genes?
Someone’s Birthday (besides The Baby Jesus)
No offense, but if your birthday is in December or on New Year’s Eve, you’re probably adding a little stress to the holidays of your loved ones. Unless you’re the baby Jesus, it seems like a bold desire to want to celebrate your birthday. We all have plenty going on. We don’t need the added stress or expense of organizing your surprise birthday party or picking you out additional gifts.
How to avoid it: Celebrate your half-birthday instead. People would probably be nicer and get you better stuff, anyway.
Your Very Own ‘Drunk Uncle’
If part of your holiday traditions include dressing the most rotund male in your family (it’s uncle Steve, isn’t it?) as Santa, forcing him to hand out presents, you’re not alone. Sometimes he also drinks too much, and complains about his divorce and makes lewd jokes and…ugh, uncle Steve is the worst.
How to avoid it: Grit your teeth and deal. That, or you can embrace the chaos and become a YouTube champion by recording and posting the whole thing.