The holidays are here again! People are getting in the spirit by spending time with family and preparing to cook meals for the entire family to delight in. The holidays are the few times most families can relax, connect with one another and fellowship at once. No work, just vibes. The laughter and joy is endless. That is, until your grandmother asks the one question you do not want to answer at dinner.
Conversations over food are common amongst households in most places across the world. It’s a healthy release to discuss a variety of topics, from views to culture, with our relatives. There are members of your family that you feel closest to and for some, you share even closer bonds with like your favorite cousin or older sibling. And then, there are some family members you hope to avoid, because they are guaranteed to bring up subject matter that is completely inappropriate for dinner and most likely, unwarranted and unprovoked.
Give college students and young adults a break when they arrive for a home cooked meal and some time with family before you drill them with thousands of questions. Actually, here are a few questions to avoid asking during the holidays in case you were wondering:
1. Have you gained/lost weight since the last time I saw you?
Whatever you do, please do not ask this question to your loved one. No one wants to engage in conversations about their weight whether they have experienced weight gain or loss. College and post-grad can be extremely stressful and it usually effects eating habits and eventually, body weight. Stay away from this exasperating question or make the proper provisions to be ignored.
2. When are you going to get married and start a family of your own?
A huge no, no. There is already enough pressure to find a decent partner in this day and age. Younger generations are plainly not falling in the love the way our parents did. Asking the whereabouts of some mystery man or woman does not magically produce a spouse. If your relatives are in denial about your sexuality, this question can be a huge pain to bear. Anti-gay or hyper masculine family members should steer clear of passive aggressive questions regarding relationship situations unless you want the honest truth. This question is probably one of the most irritating of them all.
3. What are your plans after college? Where are you working now?
It is almost a guarantee that your college student has no idea what is next post grad. During the holidays, most seniors probably just finessed a few finals to finish up the first, last semester of their college career. We highly doubt they are open to discuss the future over their first home cooked meal in months. The same goes for relatives who are recent graduates. Nine times out of ten the ‘where are you working’ question is riddled with notions of underlying presumption. Just call me Tommy because I ain’t got no job.
4. Is “so and so” still around?
Do not ask about the toxic ex that we are so desperately trying to forget. The relationship was traumatic enough, so there is absolutely no need to be interrogated while trying to enjoy a meal with family. There is no “so and so.” Actually, you can forget we ever mentioned him/her in the first place. In the words of Keke, “sorry to that man.”
5. Can you loan me some money?
What makes you think my broke self has money for you to borrow, cousin? Yes, I do have on the flyest fit in my closet but it’s the holidays so what else do you expect? I will have that drip on me, but unfortunately, I irresponsibly used my last to get it. No one is loaning you some money when that loan actually becomes an investment I can never get back. You should help me, I’m poor.
6. Handing out unsolicited advice
This may be relatives favorite thing to do. They ask “what’s next” or “why you lost so much weight” and proceed to follow up with advice you never asked for. Obviously all suggestions on how you should live your life, but dreadful nonetheless. No one asked you to be a life coach. Just support your relatives and pass the pie.
7. Recalling embarrassing stories we try to forget
Relatives never get tired of bringing up stories from the past. We promise no one wants to hear about being breastfed for too long or that time Uncle Elroy fell in a pile of dog crap. These are all memories we hopelessly try to suppress. Yet, some family members just can’t help themselves.
8. Who did you vote for?
Politics aren’t as taboo in most Black homes. Historically, Black folks have voted predictably, but in 2020 anything goes. Let’s try to leave our views on gun laws, same sex marriage and the ‘lesser of two evils’ conversations at the door. No one is interested in arguing about what would ‘Make America Great Again.’ Save it and hand over the collard greens please.
9. Can you do that little dance you be doing?
Despite how you may feel, Aunty, your younger family members aren’t here for your amusement and entertainment. Please don’t ask them to “do that little dance” they be doing. Now, throw on some classic holiday jams and we can all dance together, but putting people on the spot can make them extremely uncomfortable.
10. How do I work (insert any piece of technology here)?
Call your neighborhood genius bar, not us! We want to eat our plates in peace just like the rest of you. Let’s not use valuable family time to ask about how to work your fire stick, iPhone, or Facebook. Please. We’re begging you.
There is a time and place for discussions about college, post graduate plans, relationships and finances. The place is not at the dinner table with the entire family. Do your relatives a favor and come up with a few other questions that don’t make us cringe and hide in our turtlenecks over the holidays. It could all be as simple as a healthy plate of beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes – you name it!
Happy Holidays! Make this one more enjoyable for the entire family.