sparkly trees, presents, hot apple cider and interrogation

this post has been picked from the brains of my readers Jen, Matt and Mandie.  Jen and Matt asked the question, Matt and Mandie came up with some hysterical answers.  those answers will be front and center in this blog.  credit will be given where credit is due.  here we go.

ahh the holidays…

so full of joy and yuletide wonder and water boarding.

families mean well.  really they do.  really.  but when you are suddenly stuffed into your aunt vi’s living room with 47 of your nearest and dearest, it can be torture.  not only do you have to smile and pretend you love the sweatshirt with puffins on it your grandma bought you*, you have to endure the endless questions about your love life or the date you have marked on the calendar to produce offspring.

just as you take a sip of cider…BOOM!…”so when are you going to propose?”  obviously this is asked right in front of your girlfriend by your uncle who always thinks he’s whispering.  but he’s not.


“when are you going to find someone and settle down?”  this one will be asked by approximately 82% of the people there, including your cousins who are not old enough to even know what that means, but everyone else is asking so….


“when are you going to have kids?”  those of you who are married know this question will start being asked at your wedding reception.

so how do you handle it?  there’s a couple of things you can do that apply to all 3 questions.

1.  start talking about your life plan. pull out an 8 page, single-spaced document and ask “how much time do you have because to answer that question properly will take a while.”  then inform them you have a copy for them if they’d like to follow along.  *to pull this off, you’ll have to work on your poker face.

2.  pull the awkward bait and switch. start with “why do you ask?”  then just stare at them and wait.  most people will fidget, mumble, then laugh insecurely.  they’ll approach you thinking they’ve got the upper hand, but oh no.  the longer you wait for them to answer, the more they’ll want to escape.

3.  pull the spiritualism card. “my psychic says it’s not time yet.”  shrug, then walk away.  this is especially effective with conservative christian families.  it immediately shifts their attention from your love life to the state of your salvation; which they will whisper about amongst themselves.

there are some things you can do that are specific to each question though…

“when are you going to find someone and settle down?”

  • Tell your relatives that you’re actually seeing multitudes of people but that you’re having difficulties narrowing it down to just one. Feel free to make up ridiculous stories about each of your suitors (“she’s a dancer downtown” “She’s got 6 children under the age of 4″). ~  Mandie
  • …tell them that she’s coming in from Russia any day now and that I really hope they poked enough holes in the box… ~ Matt

“when are you going to propose?”

  • “after her divorce is final.  i’d rather not talk about it.”
  • “her parents are still in a custody battle over her, so we have to wait.”
  • “hopefully before she gets pregnant.”

“when are you going to have kids?”

  • “actually i’m glad you asked.  i was going to talk to you about moving in with you so we can afford to have kids.  we’re thinking at least 6.”
  • “i’m sterile.”  stare and wait.  *see #2 above.
  • “can you tell us how babies are made?!?  we’ve been trying to figure it out!”  you’ll have to pull off the wide-eyed look of anticipation with this one.  so practice in the mirror.

*this totally happened to my friend.  he was 20.

your turn.  how do you handle awkward questions from the family during the holidays?  any questions that i missed?


14 comments on “sparkly trees, presents, hot apple cider and interrogation

  1. Matt Gates says:

    I like your first suggestion, but I would go for a Powerpoint presentation (see if you can get Morgan Freeman to narrate) complete with a projector so that everyone could see what your life plan is at the same time. That way you only have to answer the question once.

    I think some in my family thought I was gay for awhile, but I guess it’s somewhat understandable; after all I have two cats, I fake knit (yay for the Knifty Knitter!) and the only time I’ve ever brought anyone to Thanksgiving dinner, it was a buddy of mine whose parents had gone out of town to visit his brother in Texas and he wasn’t able to go. 🙂

  2. marsh says:

    this is awesome!!!!!!!!

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sharideth Smith, Sharideth Smith. Sharideth Smith said: new blog post. how to drop "i'm sterile" into a conversation. […]

  4. Mandie says:

    Oh boy. Thanks for the shout out, Sharideth. You might think my answer was a joke, but I definitely use this tactic when my Grandma asks about a “special friend”. She’s stopped asking, for the record.

    I do like your life plan idea. And yes Matt – might as well make it a family presentation.

    I think the general rule of thumb here is to make the questioner more uncomfortable than you as the questionee. It’s like when I used to get made fun of for being short in elementary school. I’d look them straight in the eye and say, “Well, you’re ugly and I can grow.” Call their bluff. Make them squirm.

  5. Jenn says:

    I love this – I have no intentions of trying to kill Grandma, some years I think I am doing that slowly already being still single.

    The gay thing could work but at this point I think despite their conservatism, that would be probably pass for making progress and pairing up…

    I am debating something that goes along with:

    “I’m starting seminary in September and I’m going to wait until I find someone suitable enough to be a pastor’s husband. Right now I can’t find anyone submissive, who plays the piano and wants to stay at home with the kids and spend Sunday’s cooking big meals for visitors to the church.”

    Now I will have to say I had help with the above statement, while I am actually going to seminary, the remainder of that statement came from a guy I liked and he liked me but apparently because of my sane desire not be boiled down to the above we weren’t compatible.

    So going with that one if I can’t find Morgan Freeman and a slide projector – it’s a Menno household so we aren’t down with the new fangled technology…

    • Matt says:

      How about a candle and a nice blank wall? You could do a shadow puppet presentation of your life plan.

      Of course, if I did it that way, my life’s plan would involve a lot of ducks and maybe a rabbit or two…

  6. MichelleK41 says:

    #2 has worked effectively here

  7. Melanie West says:

    I suppose my standard “none of your f&*^ing business isn’t going to work for most people….. *sigh*

  8. Number 2: Genius! Wish I’d thought of it years ago. It would have saved me a lot of squirming.

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