I am currently sitting in my mom’s living room in sunny Florida, where I spent my gloriously awkward teen years. We’ve been staying here for the past week. And while it’s great to go home—we love to see family and are serious about our kids having a relationship with their grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins—returning to your childhood home for the holidays can be challenging. And by “challenging,” I mean it pretty much sucks. As in stab-me-in-the-eye-with-my-10th-grade-soccer-trophy sucks.
How much does it suck? Let me count the ways.
10 Things That Suck about Going Home for the Holidays 1 of 11
Click to share in my humiliation...
Sleeping in your old room 2 of 11
Nothing draws a husband and wife together like being forced to share a bunkbed. Or split into twin beds. Or enjoy the humiliation of room decÃ³r that hasn't changed since you moved out, right down to the unicorn posters and collection of Beastie Boys mixtapes.
Your room is now a gym 3 of 11
What's worse than a room that hasn't changed at all? Only a room that has become unrecognizable because IT IS NOW A GYM. Try to ignore the fact that your parents didn't show an ounce of interest in fitness when you were a kid. Try to ignore the smell of sweat and desperation lingering in the room.
Talking politics 4 of 11
I know what hell will be like. It is an interminable dinner conversation with parents who get all their opinions from email forwards and fundie friends on Facebook.
Running into an old flame at the grocery store 5 of 11
Attention, shoppers: We have an awkward conversation in Aisle Two.
The temperature 6 of 11
Once parents reach a certain age, their internal temperature gauge apparently only works at extremes. These means you spend the entire visit either shedding layers due to the stifling heat...or you are freezing and wrapped in a blanket. You try to regulate the thermostat, but it's as old as the house and probably hasn't worked since the Reagan administration.
Snacks 7 of 11
You wake up hungry. You make your way to the kitchen and open the fridge, only to discover that everything in it is either low-sodium, sugar-free, or expired in 2005. You wrap yourself back in your blanket and trudge back to your lumpy twin bed.
Tech support 8 of 11
I'm convinced that, somewhere around the age of 55 or 60, some kind of technology blocker springs into action in the parental brain: How do I do that Facebook thing? How do I print something? What happened to my vacation pictures? I wasn't sure what the little box meant but I clicked OK. Sure, I'd love to spend my entire vacation restoring deleted photos, wiping viruses from hard drives, and otherwise performing unpaid tech support. Absolutely.
All the prying questions 9 of 11
How is your marriage? How is work? Are you saving enough for retirement? Did you get that mole looked at? Did you hear about Uncle Patrick? Why do you let your kids talk to you that way? Why don't you come visit more?
Going to church 10 of 11
Doesn't matter what church you go to now—or if you go at all—you will be forced to attend on Sunday with Mom and Dad. Mostly so they can show off their grandkids. Better pack some nice clothes and refresh your memory of hymn lyrics.
Eating all the time 11 of 11
Be prepared to show up for three full meals a day, with breakfast served before the crack of dawn and dinner somewhere around 4:30 pm. Between these meals, you and your children will be encouraged to consume cookies, baked goods, and other fattening snacks. Also, health preferences and diets do not count at your parents' home, or are at least met with derision: Gluten? What's that?...It's only a few sticks of butter...You need to gain a few pounds anyway.
Did you go home for the holidays? Is it universally awful or is it just me?