5 Ways to Tell if You've Outstayed Your Welcome Over Christmas
Before we fully delve into the ins and outs of family Christmas, here is some recommended viewing from SNL to illustrate pretty much exactly how I act when I'm home for the holidays:
That's right, the beauty of being in the post-university, pre-marriage and babies limbo is that, no matter what size onesie you're wearing, you're still the baby of the family.
And, for the first few days, even weeks of the holiday, it works great. Mum waits on me hand and foot, Dad cleans up after me, while I sit back and enjoy the Christmas magic that is watching festive classics horizontal on the sofa, one hand holding a glass of G&T, the other nestled in a full box of celebrations.
But then, comes a time, somewhere between Boxing Day and New Year's Eve, when the Christmas magic starts to wear off. Without warning, my mother ceases to bend over backwards to meet my snack requirements, and begins to show worrying signs of wanting to get on with her own life.
If you're unsure as to whether you've outstayed your welcome, or can relax in the lap of luxury for a few more days, watch for these five telltale signs.
1. Your parents start asking about your future plans
When you first arrive for Christmas, there's no question of anyone ever leaving home again. Talk is of which board game we'll play next, which festive recipe contains the most cinnamon and who has most accurately felt up the presents under the tree.
Fast forward to December 28th, and Dad lightly drops in the conversation "So, when is it you're back to work?" or "I'm sure you'll be catching up with lots of friends over the New Year." Could be making light conversation, but most likely they're plotting the moment they can reclaim the house for themselves.
2. They offer to do your washing
On the surface, this is classic back home baller parent behaviour. There is one key word to listen out for that changes this from your usual parent slavery to a not so subtle hint that you ought to leave the building. Observe:
Innocent parent: "Have you got any washing to put on?"
Plotting parent: "Have you got any washing to put on BEFORE you head back?"
A parent that washes and folds is readying for you to leave. You're no longer welcome, my friend.
3. The decorations come down
Nothing says 'Christmas is Over' like seeing your Christmas tree, previously lord of the living room, slumming it outside the back door. The ceremonial removal of the fairy lights is symbolic of the physical removal of guests from the house, including overgrown children.
4. Food ceases to be available every hour of the day
The time when I realised it was time to leave my parents' was when I was foraging about for lunch, and do you know what I made? A cheese and ham sandwich. There's nothing remotely festive about a cheese and ham sandwich. The turkey is gone, the mince pies are finished, and all that remains of the Christmas spread are a few lonely strips of salmon.
I can take a hint.
5. Your parents stop automatically doing everything you ask
If the first four stages of parental neglect have washed over you as you bask in the bliss of being home, you can't fail to notice this last one. Note the difference in the conversations that took place in my house on the 23rd of December and the 1st January:
Mum: What are you girls up to?
Girls: Watching First Dates.
Mum: Brilliant! Fantastic! Everyone should do exactly what they want at Christmas, can I get you a drink?
Mum: What are you girls up to?
Girls: Watching Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Mum: Oh. I was planning on watching Game of Thrones.
Mum: I definitely need to watch Game of Thrones tonight.
Cue the relinquishing of the sofa, and the acknowledgement that it's finally time to head back to our real, rent paying homes.
If you've been thrown out of your house through no fault of your own, take comfort in the fact that the same fate has befallen thousands of innocent millennials across the country. That, and there's only 89 days until Easter.