This week’s blog is by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel, author of the recently released YA mystery, Wabanaki Blues. In preparation for the coming season, Melissa shares with college students everywhere her expertise on how to handle the hitches of holiday hoopla.
Congratulations. You’ve been on your own for months. You’ve dealt with everything from your vomiting roommate to the has-been teacher who nearly ended your college career. You’ve told yourself when to eat, sleep, party, and shove your lips into those of another human being. You are an adult with your own rules, your own politics, your own universe. And guess what? That universe is about to shrink from an intergalactic expanse to the size of a subatomic particle. You are about to leave the safety of your fabulously stimulating college cosmos and enter the evaporating Black Hole of what used to be called “home.”
Don’t get me wrong. Home has its upside. Family pays for stuff. Family has a washer and dryer. Family beds are good. Family food is homemade. But family conversations can make you want to jump off the roof, or at least run back to college as fast as you can. So here are some guidelines that may save your life over the next month, or at least your sanity.
- When a family member says they support a presidential candidate that you consider to be a cartoon character, do not fall onto the ground and start rolling around, laughing. Just say, “I love how democracy allows everyone to express their own opinion.”
- When a family member criticizes your hair or clothes, do not ask them if they’ve looked into the mirror lately. Simply say, “I love how every generation has its own style.”
- When you tell a family member your major at school, and they tell you that you’lll never get a job with that major, elbow them and say, “At least I plan to graduate. So technically, I’m ahead of Bill Gates.”
- When a family member criticizes your weight, say, “Thanks for noticing that I’ve been hitting the books more than the gym!”
- When a family member asks you if you’ve met that special someone, do not, under any circumstances, share how many unspecial someones you’ve been hanging out with at school.
- When a family member says something that’s so narrow-minded you can’t stop yourself from commenting–because for God’s sake you’ve been studying the world and know its bigger than this idiot thinks it is, simply say, “It’s such a wonderfully big world with so many different ideas and people in it.”
- When a family member shares a hobby with you that you believe to be a complete waste of time and money, think of the time you spent doing stupid stuff this semester and silently criticize yourself.
- When a family member says they hope you have a good job lined up for the summer, even though that’s half a year away, say that you’re looking into options over the break. Then, run upstairs, get on the computer and search cool summer jobs, for real, because now you know that staying home for the summer may not be a healthy option.
- When a family member asks what you think about climate change, know that they are asking this because they assume you disagree with them, which is probably true. So it’s okay to say, “I’d rather talk about something else.”
- Be proactively positive, no matter how much you’d rather climb into your shell and hide. Most of the problems in numbers one through nine can be avoided by occasionally saying, “It’s so great to be home” or “I love you guys so much,” because one reason people argue and pick fights is that they feel unloved.
Thus, my young, bright and shining college student, you have boldly stepped into the world of adult diplomacy. Be well and be happy. I am rooting for you!
Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel is the Medicine Woman of the Mohegan Indian Tribe and a young-adult novelist. Her latest book, Wabanaki Blues, is a mystical murder mystery, just released this year. It is the first book in the Wabanaki Trilogy.