(The Frisky) -- I realize it might seem a little early to start talking about the holidays, but as my local drugstore pulled out the tinsel and Santa hats before they'd even had time to put away the slutty nurse costumes and plastic pumpkins, I figured I'd get a jump on the season.
Whether you're a sassy single lady or one-half of a love muffin, if you go home for them, holidays are a very special kind of hell.
We'll tackle some of the issues you might face and how you might deal with them without resorting to pie-throwing or sneaking off to the basement with the bottle of cooking sherry.
I'm supposed to eat that?!
When I go to my Greek boyfriend's family home, there is inevitably a little something called kokoretsi on the menu. This dish consists of lamb hearts, bowels, spleens and lungs --all charred on a skewer. (I can't even type that without gagging a little.)
Normally I'd advise taking a small portion of whatever freaky food you're offered, but my guy's family has a sense of humor about their entrails, so I've been excused. You might not be.
In the interest of not hurting anyone's feelings, just take what you're offered and eat around it. (If you're a vegetarian or cursed with food allergies, I suggest bringing a hearty side of something so you don't starve to death. Just in case!)
I'm supposed to answer that?!
What family gathering would be complete without someone asking a highly inappropriate question or ten?
Whether it's "Aren't you too old to be single?" or "When are you going to give us grandbabies?" forewarned is forearmed.
Imagining the worst-case scenarios (and formulating your withering replies) before you even arrive will not only take the sting out of their insult, it'll save you from smacking yourself in the forehead hours later when you finally figure out what you should've said.
The kids' table
No matter how old you are, there's something about returning to casa de parents that can turn even the most sophisticated someone back into a surly teenager.
While it's embarrassing to catch yourself acting like a five-year-old, it's a stone-cold turnoff to witness your man candy reverting back to the last kid picked for dodgeball. So, no matter whose house you're hitting, work out a pre-arranged set of signals for "get over here now" and "quit embarrassing me."
You know that old trope that you can pick your friends, but you're stuck with the idjits from whence you sprang? (I'm paraphrasing here.) What to do when these people who share nothing but your last name -- and maybe your cowlick -- start spouting off nonsense you find abhorrent?
My advice is to choose your battles and choose them wisely. Uncle Tommy's racist tirades obviously demand a smackdown, but do you really need to yell at your well-meaning granny for nagging you about temple attendance? Probably not.
Take any large group of people, add a couple decades of baggage, several tumblers of scotch, and a veiled barb or two, and at some point during the day you're going to have yourself a situation.
Whether it's his house or yours, do not get dragged into a turkey-dinner throw-down. As soon as you get a hint that drumsticks are about to start flying, excuse yourself. Who's going to argue with a bathroom visit?
Or stop the go-getter who's decided to go make the fresh whipped cream to put on the pie? If worse comes to worst, you can always clutch your belly and claim period cramps. That one always works for my sister.
Then again, you could always do the sane thing ... unplug the phone, pull down the shades, and enjoy some delicious takeout.