9 Excuses To Get Away From Your Family This Holiday Season

See how much fun we’re having? This is what fun looks like.
This year, give yourself the ultimate gift — some time away from your family before you kill them all.

This is Day 4 of The Establishment’s 12 Days of Holiday Self Care series. You can read Day 1 here, Day 2 here, and Day 3 here.

Even the most loving, functional families can be a lot to handle over the holidays. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but when you gather all those formerly absent relatives in a room together it’s only a matter of minutes until you start wishing that you could go back to loving them from a distance. The old grudges, the political debates over the dinner table, the constant arranging and rearranging of holiday schedules, the screaming babies, the questions about your love life — if Christ is the Reason for the Season, family gatherings are the source of your stress. So this year, give yourself the ultimate gift — some time away from your family before you kill them all.

This dog is believably sick. You must stay home and care for him.

Pets. Do you have pets? Furry friends, feathered friends — hell, even fish — are great excuses to get away from that family gathering that you just can’t bear to attend. Yes, your dog is sick. Oh no, the only time you could get your cat to the vet was that day — you know how busy the holidays are. Did you know there are vets for fish? There are — and your beta needs a teeth cleaning or something. The best thing about using pets as an excuse is that they can’t rat you out (no pun intended, unless your pet is a rat, then totally intended).

Work. You have to work. It’s an emergency. Heartless corporate bastards and all that.

Errands. This is a great way to get away from family when you’re visiting them out of town so you can’t easily use the pets or work excuse. You need to go to the pharmacy. You’ll be back soon. Oops, you got lost and instead of the pharmacy, you found a few hours of fucking peace and quiet.

Last-Minute Shopping. This one also works well when out of town. You forgot a few gifts. Oh no! You need to go get them. No, mom, you can’t come with — one of your gifts is the one that I forgot! Can’t spoil the surprise. This will take a while. You know how crowded holiday stores are.

See how tired he is? Yes, it’s time to leave now to get this little guy to bed.

Kids. Slightly less reliable than pets, kids also can make a handy excuse. Little Jack’s bedtime suddenly was moved up an hour, and if you don’t leave by 7, his internal clock will be off and Dr. Spock says that’s bad. If your kid isn’t old enough to be able to call out your bullshit, your kid can have a mysterious cold or flu coming on any day that you need a break.

Illness. No kids or pets? Oh dear, well it seems like you are coming down with something. This is more believable if you start the day before. Just casually mention to a few family members that you are feeling under the weather. Then, as the family activities start the next day, show up, but act a little more reserved, as if speech suddenly requires energy that you just don’t have. Decline any food stating, “Oh that looks delicious, but my stomach’s a bit off — I’d hate to risk it.” Now, you’ve laid the groundwork for an easy out. If you’re having a great time with family, you can wait and use it the next day (it will keep for three days max), but if things start to suck, your illness can suddenly flare up and nobody will question you. In fact, they may admire how you stuck in there as long as you did, since you were obviously feeling so ill. Just nod and say, “Of course, family is everything to me.”

Oh no, I'll be okay. It's important for me to be here with you, and not home resting in bed. I think I'll make it. Don't mind me.
Oh no, I’ll be okay. It’s important for me to be here with you, and not home resting in bed. I think I’ll make it. Don’t mind me.

Volunteer Work. You’ve decided to give back this holiday by volunteering at a soup kitchen. Oh, this may sound like a horrible lie to get away from your family but your family is the worst, remember? Also, studies show that it’s better to give money if you have it than to give time, as organizations can use that money to more efficiently serve those in need than your shitty ladling skills would and can spread it out throughout the year, instead of just during the holidays when people pretend to give a damn. So donate enough money to make a nice difference and then spend the rest of the day curled up with some Netflix and a giant bag of candy.

Dentist. You need to go to the dentist. Your tooth hurts — ow! You won’t be able to make it to dinner later, unfortunately. There’s no way you’d be able to eat after all that dental work.

You are an important business woman going to a very important meeting. No, you’re not smiling — you’re sad! It’s just that sometimes your important business woman face looks like a smile.

Very Important Meeting. You are having a great time looking through Aunt Mabel’s photos of her doll collection. It’s so fascinating you could stare at them all night. But damn — you have a Very Important Meeting tomorrow morning at 8 a.m., and you’ve got to get your slides ready and all that. Yes, if you don’t leave now, there’s no way you’ll be ready for your Very Important Meeting. Don’t you hate the way that work gets in the way of what really matters?

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