Like clockwork, the Christmas season brings scorching summers, Bunnings fairy-lights and family members from all around. Aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, all in a room with screaming children and doting grandparents. The colourful display of the gene pool that you never wanted. Unfortunately, now you have to talk to them. And while conversation topics are innumerable, you’ll always somehow end up with these five.
#1 Is That A New Haircut?
Relatives have an odd habit of expecting you to arrive looking like your high school photos (something we can blame on grandmother’s display cabinets). Meaning any additional piercings or haircuts are startling, even if it’s been years since your awkward teenage years. Heaven forbid a tattoo is visible. To the grandparents, and the more conservative aunt, it is now assumed that you’ve lost your way. Any weight or height difference is always a point of conversation. Oh, I remember when you were ‘this’ tall. Be prepared for comments of surprise when people notice you no longer have braces, especially if it’s been over half a decade.
#2 The One-Nation Conversation
There is always that one relative whom everyone loves, but you kind of wish couldn’t vote. Whether it be same-sex marriage, transgender rights. Trump and North Korea. Or even those ‘damn immigrants’, every family dinner is accompanied with delightful Christmas landmines.
And they’re determined to step on at least one.
They’re not mean-spirited, but they just have a more cemented, traditional perspective that does not do well in an intergenerational setting. Ultimately, it is at these events that the ignorant and the self-righteous clash. These conversations will be lengthened by the amount of family members present, multiplied by the amount of cheap alcohol bought at an Aldi sale. What results is a bunch of people sitting around hoping they would shut-up so everyone can enjoy the pavlova in peace.
#3 How’s The Love Life?
The Christmas season seems to be the designated time of year for everyone to ask about your sex life. Those who are single are unable to escape. Plagued with questions of whether they’re bringing anyone to the gathering. Is there anyone special in their lives right now? And what happened to that one person they were seeing a bit back? For those with significant others, get ready for the delightful conversations of, “Where are my grandchildren?” Because the grandparents who had their kids by age 21 are sitting across the table.
And of course, avoiding the judgemental father asking whether your boyfriend has a ‘proper’ job yet.
#4 The So-What-Do-You-Do-? Talk
This is the touchpoint conversation for all those family members who have no idea what to talk to you about. While varied in approach, your degree, part-time job or full-time career is guaranteed to be scrutinised by those you love. Arts degrees will forever face the question, “Can you get a job from that?” And aspiring lawyers and accountants will simply be queried, “So, what’s it like then?” Part-time jobs will be judged by wages per hour, and full time by the hours you put in. And the entire chat will be full of people nodding and pretending to understand what you do.
#5 Oh, You Remember Mark?
The conversation centred around that obscure friend from 10 years ago. How is it that mothers are able to recollect these figures from faded photographs that have completely escaped your memory? Of course, you don’t remember Mark. You played soccer with his brother when you were six. Or lived next to him and his wife for six months when you were in the second grade. But despite this, it is still considered a newsworthy topic because your mother saw them at the shops yesterday.
Or even worse. They’re dead now.