The Delicate Art of Telling Your Parents You’re Not Coming Home For the Holidays (Something to Be Grateful For)
2020 continues to be a year unlike any other. When the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. earlier this year, none of us (except maybe Dr. Fauci) could have predicted that we’d still be social distancing through the holidays. But here we are, in the midst of the third wave of COVID-19 with some states hitting all-time highs of case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths from the virus. It’s a terrible time to travel — even the CDC says so — and if you can stay put this holiday season, you definitely should.
Making the decision to stay home, binge-watch Christmas classics, and order in your favorite festive meals might be easy, but telling your parents you’re not coming home for the holidays is going to be tough. That’s why we created this super-helpful guide, which will ease the blow of the “you’re on your own this year” announcement. If your parents still can’t understand why you’re sitting 2020’s festivities out, give them our number so they can lodge their complaints. We’ll be sure to let their calls go to voicemail.
Cover Photo: MixMedia (Getty Images)
Send a gift ahead of time.
Before you break the news, send the 'rents a little gift, just because. (Just because you're going to break their hearts. But they don't know that yet.) Flowers for mom, alcohol for dad, a fruitcake for the family dog; the gift itself matters less than the gesture.
No, your parents haven't quite figured out the video cam thing, but they sure do appreciate seeing your adorable mug pop up on their screen. It's the only humane way to break the bad news that they won't be seeing you in person again until 2021.
Wear your most festive, ugly Christmas sweater.
The hilarity of your clothing choice will distract from the buzzkill of your message.
Reassure them all is well.
Your parents are probably worried about you because worrying is what parents do best. Make sure to reassure them at the start of the conversation that you are safe and have been taking good care of yourself during quarantine. No, you're not ill or depressed or dreading the holidays. Everything is perfectly fine.
But remind them about the state of the world.
Statistics are your ammunition. Use them. Fire off the COVID-19 case numbers and deaths in your hometown, in your parents' hometown, across the country, and even around the globe. Go for the shock factor. Then remind them that you can avoid much of the coronavirus risk simply by staying home.
Pretend to be devastated.
Whether or not you fake-cry is up to you and your tear ducts, but please, try not to let show how pleased you are that you have a get-out-of-the-holidays-free card thanks to coronavirus.
Recall holiday disasters past.
Everyone tends to romanticize the holidays. Don't be one of those people. Instead, drop a few reminders of how awful some get-togethers have been in the past, like that time your senile grandad sliced his finger off whlie carving the turkey or your alcoholic uncle puked on the Christmas tree. These stories will start to plant seeds of doubt in your parents' minds and make them wonder why they ever agree to host the holiday gatherings and have all those horrible people over in the first place.
Make a worthless counter-offer.
Pretend like you haven't already made up your mind and engage in a faux negotiation -- but make sure your offer is one they can (and absolutely will) refuse.
Cut the chord.
Your parents aren't going to want to accept the reality that you aren't coming home for the holidays this year. So, at some point, you're going to have to be ruthless and cut the chord (by which we mean, the internet connection). The longer you stay on the call with them, the stronger their powers of persuasion and the weaker your willpower to say no.
You did it! You are free from any familial holiday obligations. This demands a celebration.
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