True Friends & Family Antidotes
or, All I Want for Christmas is to Get Out of Here Alive
by Evany Thomas
So you made it through Thanksgiving. You weathered the 27th telling of dad's
dyslexic atheist joke ("He doesn't believe in dog!"); the lovingly detailed
descriptions of this year's medical ailments -- the stitches, lances, swelling,
and draining; the endless explaining to your aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents
why that "nice young thing" you brought last year, the one who made the earth-moving
pumpkin pie, isn't with you anymore. Now you're safe in your own home, eating
dry turkey sandwiches and licking your wounds.
But the family fun has only just begun! Thanksgiving is merely the tip of the
iceberg, the Opening Day of the holiday season. And as the calming effects of
lift, the panic sets in: you're looking down the barrel of five more weeks of
endless over-feedings, misunderstandings, and strained conversations about politics,
and just exactly where your life
is always a tricky topic, especially at the holidays (and especially when
you're trying to introduce someone important to your mother). Whatever it takes,
you have to untie
those apron strings and get away from the burning home fires. And if you're
single looking to double up, non-family get-togethers are even more imperative.
Unless you're positively Appalachian, Aunt Doreen's tree-trimming tea party
is no way to get your stocking
stuffed. The only way to break on through is to counterbalance the family
obligations with as many friend-filled events as possible.
No doubt you'll get some invites to other people's events,
and you should of course make the rounds. But for true quality over quantity,
you'll have to come up with your own outside-the-gene-pool parties. It isn't
hard to do; you just need a few good ideas to get the holiday punch bowl rolling.
Hanging Out with Joy, Holly, Carol, and Eve
For the past few years, my friends and I have taken the sting out of Thanksgiving
by hosting a friendly, sit-down meal (known simply as "Thanksgiving II") the
week after the traditional, all-in-the-family meal. There's the same turkey,
same trimmings, but it's potluck, so no martyred cook struggling to baste the
turkey, marshmallow the sweet potatoes, and mask the taste of the brussel sprouts.
(So difficult, what with those hands nailed to the cross!)
always a good mix of old friends, new inductees, plenty of wine,
and lively, lengthy conversation -- much better than the usual standing-around
chit-chat you find at your garden-variety cocktail parties. And the food itself
provides a unique way for you to dig into someone new. The way to a person's
heart is through the stomach, and your family recipe for chestnut-infused stuffing
might just get that special someone's ticker beating double-time (or, if you
use all the butter the recipe calls for, stop altogether).
KP duty is another arena where sparks can fly: One "you wash, I'll dry" pair
at last year's fete liked the way they worked together so much (Ah, how you
snap those rubber gloves! Oh, The masterful way you stack those dishes!) that
they started dating, and this year they're making the pecan pie together.
It's amazing how the same four-hour meal with your family, which lasts a lifetime,
eases by when you're with friends and interesting new acquaintances. And
somehow you feel better afterward: Instead of the usual panicked, too-full feeling,
you're pleasantly stuffed, relaxed, and, dare we say it, happy.