Thrive Presents: Surviving the Holidays with Your Relatives


Welcome to Thrive! A weekly advice column for creatives and the generally confused.


The year is winding down and we are all exhausted, partied out (or still partying), and thinking about new beginnings. We’re also reflecting on the year — accomplishments, disappointments, regrets. In short, it’s a tough time of year and nothing makes it tougher than hanging out with distant relatives who feel the need to give you advice on “life.”

We’ve all seen the memes, we can all relate to the onslaught of questions from people we only see once or twice or year. “When are you getting married?” “Do you have a boyfriend?” “When are you going to get a real job?” The list seems endless and our patience (already worn thin by parties and our own reflection) is non-existent.

So I’ve created a quick guide to coping with those family members and those questions that make your skin crawl and your hand reach for another bottle of wine. Survival is possible.


Good Intentions – Keep in mind that for the most part, these are people that are honestly interested and excited about your life. Sure there may be a bitter aunt who wants to see you flail and fail, but most of your relatives are curious about how you spend your time now and how you plan to spend it in the future.

Take away: Stay calm, they’re interested in you like you’re interested in Beyonce.


Focus the Convo – If the questions get too personal and start to become targeted (ie no one else can get involved with it) steer it back to a neutral place where your cousins, brothers, mother, whoever, can all contribute. When your Uncle’s new boyfriend asks “Why did Mike really break up with you?” Answer: “It’s a long story about someone who doesn’t matter. I heard Julie is seeing a really nice guy though. Julie, how do you guys meet? I need some pointers.”

Take away: Keep the conversation light and about the topic, in this case “relationships” instead of pointed toward you aka “YOUR relationships.”


Be the Adult – If you do have a bitter aunt who has come to play, and play mean, do not become petty. I repeat, do not get petty. In most instances, you’ll be accused of trying to bring the festivities down, not her. It’s just how seniority (sadly) works. Instead, say something kind (about anything) back and show her that you’re far more mature than she is. She asks: “I heard your mother had to send you $500 last month to support you.” You say, “It’s so nice she’s not charging me interest. I am so lucky to have a mom like her! You’re one lucky sister-in-law.” And then wink at your mom or get up and give her a great big hug.

Take away: It’s not as funny as #ThanksgivingClapBacks on Twitter, but being the bigger person will feed your soul more.


This is Not Your Life- Remember, this is just a couple of days with your blood relatives. In the end, you’re going to go back home and be with your chosen family for New Year’s and have a blast. You are building YOUR perfect life and no one can take that from you. Stay calm, have a glass of wine, and breathe. It’ll be over soon.

Take away: You’re a unicorn and they can’t handle it. Be the best you and don’t fall for their tricks!

Wishing you a happy, healthy holiday season from THRIVE and ANON. And don’t forget I take questions at anytime!


THRIVE is answered by Amanda Kusek, a poet, blogger, and dog mom living in NYC.

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