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Brock About Town: How to do holidays with the family of the person with whom you’re living in sin


Illustration by Lev Cantoral

The holiday season is upon us once more, and for the very first time in my life, I spent it at my boyfriend’s parents’ house. I won’t lie, I was a little nervous at first. These are people who make a ham for Christmas dinner and spend the day sharing carefully chosen gifts and precious childhood memories, whereas my family usually eats chicken chow mein and watches Wheel of Fortune on my grandma’s Scotchgarded sofa.

However, since I got through the weekend and nobody chased me with torches and pitchforks, I feel qualified to declare myself an expert on diplomatic relations. Without further ado, I present my official guide to making nice with the in-laws (or whatever you call the parents of the person with whom you live in sin):

Bring a gift. A mid-range bottle of wine or some roses for the mom are always safe bets, but you want to demonstrate that you’re an interesting, creative person who’ll add to the holiday atmosphere. Personally, I always go for one of those four-foot-long Furbys. Even if you break up with their kid a week later, they’ll be talking about you for years.

Demonstrate your best qualities. Helping to make a holiday dinner is good, but you’ll need to do better than that, especially if your lady’s ’rents are a little chilly towards you. Give her mom some pointers on improving her traditional family recipes. Rotate the tires on her dad’s car. If all else fails, show them one of your special talents, like doing body shots off their daughter.

Keep the PDA to a minimum. You wouldn’t want your future in-laws to think you’re a lech, so no smooching in the common areas. If your relationship is halfway decent, it’s going to be hard to keep your hands off each other, so some “emotional distancing measures” may be required. Maybe ask their mom if you can see some of their old school pictures and then mock their spelling.

Know your audience before you try to tell any jokes. Is the love of your life the product of a traditional Catholic household? Do his parents keep a crucifix and a framed picture of grandma above the guest bed? Then maybe don’t loudly announce at the breakfast table that you’re too nauseous to eat, or complain about your puffy ankles. Nobody’s going to think it’s funny (although it totally was).

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 301.


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