It's no secret that I like Christmas. The lights, the movies, the music...the presents. The more, the merrier, I say - for one month a year, there is no such thing as too much. Except when it comes to one thing:
Don't get me wrong; I love my family. It's just that I don't necessarily relate to all of my family members. Some of them don't understand my life, or my goals. [I do have some family who are pure awesome. They know who they are.] So, how do I handle family parties, dinners, etc.? In a phrase - Exit Strategy.
If we learned nothing from the Dubya era, before you enter a conflict, you should always know how you will retreat when the time comes. You have to plan carefully, accounting for all factors and contingencies. Here are some helpful tips from my years of successfully limiting family mayhem.
Know your opponents. Who will be at the party? What is their motivation? Are they there to show off their own, perfect little family unit? Are they there to gather (and spread) gossip about others?
Know the layout. Have you been to the venue (home, restaurant, etc) before? Where are the restrooms? Is there a room/outdoor area to which you can make a quick retreat for a break? Is a quick exit possible?
Keep your stuff in check. The hostess will offer to take your coat and purse. Never surrender your purse. If you must surrender your coat, make note of its location. If possible, bring a coat you can leave behind. Better yet, dress appropriately and don't bring a coat at all.
Make it a team effort. At family events, I'm often the only person in the room without a date. Certain family members think this is a cause for sympathy; ironically, it's one of my favorite things. Why? I don't have to work out my exit with anyone else; when I'm ready to go - I can.
If you are with a date, you'll have to plan carefully. Make sure your other knows the hand/eye signals and other visual/verbal cues for "let's get the f*** out of here." If he misses a cue, you may have to fake illness or emergency. If your other can't pivot quickly - you may have to leave him. [Hey, this is a family party, not the Marines. We mean business.] It helps if you think of your other like your coat - if possible, leave him at home, but if not, make sure he's one you don't mind leaving behind.
It's all about the defense. Long goodbyes and take-home plates of food are strategies employed by the
enemy family to detain you. Don't fall for that. Decline the food; if you must, feign a "diet" you're starting. [This is especially effective if you're a single female because, well, obviously you must need to lose weight or you'd have a date, right? *rolls eyes*]
As for goodbyes, identify those few people to whom you must say goodbye - and catch them right away. Then, when you've announced your departure to your host, you're free to flee.
How about you? Any tips/tricks for avoiding/surviving the dreaded family gathering?