How to Survive The Holidays

Get into the holiday spirit by playing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Don’t go “home” for Thanksgiving. Instead, go to a friend’s house in Massachusetts or Rhode Island and have their parents cook you turkey and ask questions about your future. When your parents ask you what you would like for Christmas, tell them to please direct all Christmas gifts to your account at Bank of America.

Write your mother a short story for Christmas. Buy your father a pillow.

Throw a holiday party with your friends. Wear a Santa hat, drink spiked cider and make out with someone under the mistletoe. And then in the bathroom. And then in your bed. Make a bad joke about Santa coming early this year. Get it?

Fly home on December 23rd. Spend Christmas in the desert at your gay uncle’s house. You hate your gay uncle but he has a sick Jacuzzi in his backyard and makes really good mashed potatoes so you try to look at the bright side.

Notice that your family is extra passive-aggressive this year. Take a Vicodin and lie down in the guest bedroom for a while.

Open gifts. Your aunt gives you a hideous tribal bracelet from her trip to Africa and your grandmother gets you body wash and cologne. Start to wonder if you smell bad. Get a gift card to Trader Joe’s from your mom and begin to fantasize about all the hummus and wheat crisps you’ll be able to buy. Your dad buys you a new MacBook Pro. Oh my god. Your mom makes a comment about your father’s gift being “too much” and feels shown up.

Your 16 year-old cousin, the born-again Christian, talks to you about how much she loves eating at In N Out and teepeeing her friends’ houses. Take another Vicodin.

Your gay uncle starts acting like a little bitch, criticizing the homemade desserts, and it creates an avalanche of bullshit. Every year, your family gets into intense fights over dessert and every year, it becomes less and less about the desserts and more about how everyone sort of hates each other.

At this point, be super high and block out all the fights about pumpkin pie. Talk to your other cousin-the one who listens to The Germs and got a D.U.I. once- and remember hearing through the family grapevine that he felt depressed this year. Look at him and wonder why he’s so sad. Know that you’re not going to find out on Christmas at your gay uncle’s house.

Christmas dinner is served. The ham is dry but everyone says it’s moist. OK, it’s moist. Your born-again Christian cousin texts throughout dinner and clutches a copy of Twilight.

Your gay uncle gets drunk and starts making inappropriate comments about his sex life. Everyone is horrified except for you. You’re laughing.

By the time dinner is over, everyone is too full to fight. Your brother lights a fire and you start to fall asleep on your mom’s shoulder.

When you wake up, it feels late and everyone is leaving. Say your goodbyes and take solace in knowing that you won’t see most of your family for another 364 days. Then feel sort of sad about it.

Drive home with your mom, dad, brother and sister. Drive away from the holidays, away from this part of your life that only exists when the temperatures drop and the malls get crowded. Come to the conclusion that even though the holidays are strange, your life would be even stranger without them. TC mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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  • Bill A Pomerans


  • jordanobscura

    I liked the parts with the gay uncle.

  • DAN

    omg that IS a sick Jacuzzi!!

  • Erik Stinson

    good genre piece

  • kristy

    Don't forget Vicky. Seriously, though.

  • Daniel Roberts

    Nice piece. Hope this wasn't too personal

  • Brian McElmurry

    This is entertaining and enjoyable. Made me want to kill myself, a little.

  • Peter

    YES. I loved this.

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