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A Guide on How to Handle Holiday Conversations

Bella Irwin/Villanovan Photography
Kailey Fahy advises students on how to handle tough conversation topics during holidays.

Picture this: you have just returned home from finals. After a long semester, you are ready to enjoy a home-cooked meal with those who you love most. 

You are sitting at the table, fork in hand, ready to take the first bite, when, all of a sudden, someone hits you with one of those dreaded conversation topics. These subjects vary from person to person, but most of these discussions surround topics like one’s romantic life, post-grad plans, college weight gain, politics and more.

In my experience, these awkward conversation starters come from a place of genuine curiosity and interest in one’s life. Family members or old friends may see themselves posing these questions as a way to learn more about you and your life. 

Others however, are unaware of personal boundaries or will intentionally ask questions to provoke people. Whatever their motives are, it is best to go into these interactions with strategies in your back pocket on how to respond when they inevitably come up. 

There are multiple routes you can take when someone makes a comment about your weight. Sometimes the best course of action is to not reply at all, and instead just stare blankly at the person who made the remark. 

This awkward silence will likely make the commenter feel just as uncomfortable as their statement made you feel. However, sometimes these barbs will be presented more gently, with people noting how “different” you look. 

When people disguise their judgements like this, it is best to respond by asking what they said or if they could repeat themselves. When these people have to reflect on what they said before and then repeat it, they will typically realize how their comment came across as condescending and will backtrack.

Another topic family members, especially those a part of older generations, enjoy discussing during holidays is a college student’s love life. These questions come from the fact that older family members got married so young, typically around the age of college students. 

There is a disconnect between them and the fact that students just may not want to be in a relationship during their collegiate years. The best course of action for this scenario is to explain how college is a time to get to know yourself. It is a time for you to explore your interests and expand your horizons. 

Another way to address this is to acknowledge that while you would ultimately like a partner, the treatment you have received from potential candidates has been terrible and not worth your time. 

With this approach you are indicating to the people posing this question that you have at least attempted to have a love life. 

One final scenario to consider is when people inquire about your major or post-grad plans. This conversation can be awkward, particularly when you’re undecided or haven’t secured any post-grad jobs yet. Responding to such inquiries can be challenging because, in most cases, people are not trying to make you uncomfortable. 

They are either being polite or genuinely interested in your life. Most adults respond with a bit of a judgemental stare if you say you are still “figuring things out.” So, the best course of action in this scenario may just be to make stuff up. 

If you do not have any jobs lined up yet, tell these people you are considering getting your masters or attending law school. At least this response will fend off these inquirers until next holiday season. 

While these scenarios do not cover all the possible uncomfortable topics of conversation that may arise at the dinner table during holidays, they do cover some general ones. And members of the Villanova community returning home for the holidays have just achieved a great feat: making it through finals week. 

This completion of finals marks the culmination of the semester. This is something that should be celebrated and not overshadowed by awkward questions by out-of-touch family members. 

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About the Contributor
Kailey Fahy
Kailey Fahy, Co-Opinion Editor
Kailey Fahy is a freshman Co-Opinion editor of The Villanovan studying Communications with a specialization in journalism. As the oldest daughter with four younger siblings, Kailey is often described as a people pleaser who is no stranger to chaos. Kailey has always had a passion for English and writing and has even been published in The America Library of Poetry. She especially enjoys being able to give people a voice to share their opinions through her articles. As a New Jersey native, you can find her spending every sunny day between Memorial Day and school’s start at the Jersey Shore, Playa Bowl in hand.
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