How to escape your family like a pro

November 20, 2019 — by Marisa Kingsley

It’s almost December, and the holidays are upon us — lounging around a house that smells of baking cookies, watching bad Hallmark movies, studying for agonizing finals, burning Yankee candles and enduring cumbersome family debacles. 

Almost every year without fail, my winter break is spent at home with extended family. Typically, only my paternal grandparents stay with us, but last year my house became the hub for all my mom’s relatives during the holidays. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but my holiday break is a time for me to evade people from the comfort of my own home. After applying the last of my brain power on finals, I no longer have the strength to repress my social ineptitude. Couple that with half a dozen more family members in the house — I knew it was going to get cringy. 

Since my uncle and aunts have different interests, the house is quiet during the day, aside from my grandma watching golf games on TV. 

However, this all changes when we sit down for dinner. 

During the holidays, my family makes liberal use of our wine cellar. This usually results in nothing more than certain relatives laughing too much at their own jokes. My older sister and I find ourselves trapped listening to our relatives talk about their embarrassing teenage escapades. Additionally, they continuously try to coerce us to talk about our love lives when we desperately just want to eat our Christmas leftovers in stilted silence. 

I’m sure many people have similar experiences. Although we love our families, sometimes they don’t understand certain boundaries that we have. So as the holiday season dawns upon us and we spend more time with them, here are some tips to keep in mind. 

While none of these tips are foolproof, they’re worth a shot if you’re really in need of an escape from your family this holiday season. 

The first one is quite obvious, but it’s one of the most effective — physically leave the room. Parents bragging about your sibling to your relatives? Grandparents asking about your (nonexistent) romantic partner? Leave the room. Although this may work in the short term, it’s not the most discreet, so exercise it at your own risk. 

Another option is to make plans in advance with friends. Hit two birds with one stone and go out with a friend who’s also looking for an escape; that way, you two can instead be judged in public together for avoiding “valuable family bonding time.”

You may also consider making plans with family that will receive little to no enthusiasm. I’ve found that hikes are usually not popular, especially since it’s still hot in the middle of December (thanks global warming). 

If you can’t leave the house, perhaps volunteer to do help with chores such as cooking or laundry. That way, you’ll most likely be secluded to one area of the house and lessen your chance of awkward encounters with relatives. 

But, if you’re really out of options, you can always tough it out and cringe later. Who knows, maybe you can reflect upon your experiences for a college essay since admissions officers  love good character-building experiences.

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.


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