DEALING WITH YOUR PROBLEMATIC FAMILY MEMBERS OVER THE HOLIDAYS
A 5 step guide
So, you’re going home for the festive season and while you are genuinely looking forward to the break, there are always those family members who are hell bent on making your life more complicated than is necessary. It’s as if they spend the year plotting all the ways they can place insurmountable obstacles in the way of your coveted down time. If like myself, and an overwhelmingly large contingent of Zimbabweans in the diaspora, or living away from home, you have a little ball of dread floating around in your belly as the holidays begin, fear not. I have ample experience in navigating the never-ending expectations and awkward questions. Here’s a simple guide that everyone needs to survive that three-week period.
1. Use the buddy system
Remember in primary school whenever there was a class outing and the teacher would assign you another learner to whom you were basically attached at the hip? This is where your favourite cousin or young aunt/uncle comes in handy. Don’t have a cousin or hate them all? Bring your best friend with you for the holidays. Next, do EVERYTHING together. This way, whatever work you are assigned, be it kitchen duty, fuel queue madness or picking up the elderly from across town, you have someone to keep you sane and divvy up the workload. You also have someone to get into trouble with for skipping out on Christmas mass. Remember, there is safety in numbers. If you are never alone, they can’t interrogate you about your imaginary boyfriend/girlfriend and if they do, the embarrassment is shared. The more of you they are, the less brave those nosy parkers are.
2. Never show anyone the money
Plead poverty. Unless you are Richie Rich (aka umnikazi wempuphu), never let on that you have some holiday fund stashed away or else you will pay for EVERYTHING. When they send you for ice and beverages, guess what? Yup, you’ll be footing the bills. Also, after all the visitors have cleared out and you have actual free time, you’ll be empty, and you’ll have to follow your mother around hoping for a morsel to feed your cravings. The only money you should have should be directed at bribing the children to for Pete’s sake, leave you alone, and the nosy aunties to not snitch on you for babysitting the same mug of “coffee” all day.
3. Don’t do too much
If you, like myself, come from a big family that likes to host gigantic lunches and dinners for a million people you don’t know and keep “wandering” into your suitcase for things to “borrow”, you need to position yourself as unreliable and lazy. This will get you out of being sent for extra anything and asked to cook the big stuff. You’ll end up chopping carrots and sipping wine all day and nobody will be moved. And you can stand guard outside whatever bedroom/sleeping space you have been assigned for the strays because we all know that full houses mean taking turn sleeping on the air mattress in the lounge. Stay woke children.
4. Fat pants.
Need I say more?
5. Pack a survival kit
No holiday is easy to survive so, make sure you take care of number 1, YOU. It’s easy to get exhausted and cranky while simultaneously trying not to kill uncle Bongani who keeps pinching your beers and stealing meat. Think long and hard about what your essentials are and carry those with you. Here are some tips:
a. A hip flask – we all know how judgy the good cousins are, and you can’t be seen making repeated trips to pour out of your suitcase.
b. A power bank – because iPhone users never have enough battery and the pug ports are always full and too far away.
c. A book/favourite magazine for when you have to take some “me time” in the guest bathroom for extended periods.
d. Oh, and that bribery money? Keep it close because you never know who you’ll need to distract and when
If all else fails, you can always fake an ailment (nothing requiring the emergency room) and never have to lift a finger or deal with anyone. Good luck and happy holidays to you, and yours!