A Playlist for Braving Uncomfortable Post-Holiday Season Gatherings

Phillip Morgan ‘18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

The holidays may have come and gone, but winter break marches on (until mid-January), and so you still must brave the perils of awkward post-holiday social events. You know them all too well. Sitting quietly through the extended family dinner while the uncle you barely know spews drunken racism over multiple beers and undercooked mac ‘n cheese. Having to explain to your barely functioning grandmother for the seventeenth time that no, your short haircut and septum piercing do not mean you’re a lesbian now, and yes, you have career aspirations despite being an English Major (we’d say WLP Major, but grandma just isn’t ready for that conceptual hurdle yet). Feeling obligated to go to the parties of high school kids you barely talked to in the hopes of running into that one person you were really close with. Suffering through that party and briefly feeling overjoyed upon seeing that person there, until you realize they’ve fallen into this crowd now and you’ve grown much farther apart. Encountering those assholes you hated throughout your childhood, who now either see a golden opportunity to prove to you how much better they’re doing and how you’ve made a horrible mistake, or act friendly around as though you didn’t grow up despising the other’s existence. You sit in numb silence as your holiday time with family devolves into forcibly re-visiting all the reasons you were so desperate to leave for college in the first place, and you fight the urge to either laugh or scream as you come to terms with how much you’ve really drifted from your hometown friends. So, in solidarity with you poor souls who must face the trials of depressingly narrow-minded conversations and constant criticism from your peers and elders of your life decisions, here’s a special playlist just for you. Packed with songs that deftly illustrate every dismal realization, every sense of frustration, and every quiet victory you experience during this “wonderful” time of the year, this is your auditory survival kit for any and all of your unnerving holiday social events.

Cayetana – “Serious Things are Stupid”

We begin with you at that party you didn’t even want to go to that much. Much like Cayetana, you don’t really have much plans beyond showing up and leaving, but then one of your old relationship shows up and attempts to rope you in with all the same moves as they did before you left. But as the final refrain, “You won’t change your ways” goes, you know they’re the same deep down, and so you move on. Hopefully for good, but you know that’s not the last time you’ll struggle between nostalgia and reality.

Eagulls – “Nerve Endings”

Eagulls’ frontman George Mitchell sounds like he’s on the verge of a total nervous breakdown on this song, and you’re probably going to be driven to near insanity if you have to sit through another dreaded extended family dinner. After another night of that casserole everyone hates, your relatives asking if your tattoos mean you joined a cult while in college, and the one really prejudiced uncle who gets too drunk every year and can’t stop wailing about how Obamacare for poisoning our youth, you’ll be begging someone to “come find my head” too.

Title Fight – “Leaf”

Of course your parents and/or loved ones you actually relate with emotionally and intellectually are going to keep asking if you’re ok, but because you don’t wanna badmouth anyone and accidentally offend your parents, you keep your discomfort to yourself, slowly fading into the background as the family conversations start to gain momentum. By the time your fun, crazy aunt asks how college is going, you’ll be long gone, mentally a leaf in the wind. You’ll also most likely try sleeping as much as possible to avoid social interaction, and it probably won’t even work.

Tigers Jaw – “Distress Signal”

“Distress Signal” speaks to the idea that pull you may be feeling towards your hometown has more to do with the people there than the familiarity of home itself. Unfortunately, not only does that put you in the crosshairs of those you purposefully were trying to get away from but also invites the possibility that the people you grew up with have changed too. As the chorus says, “you oughta be more tactful” in the days ahead, as what you missed while you were gone may have been drastically altered. People change, and this song reminds you of the importance of coming to terms with that.

Turnover – “Seedwong”

Through all the tediously repetitive conversations and reluctant re-integration with old acquaintances, sooner or later you’re going to start slipping into your own head in a last-ditch attempt to escape from the disappointment and monotony. You’ll likely start daydreaming about what it’s going to be like when you return for the Spring Semester, but sadly the narrator here is right. Tuning out isn’t going to solve anything or make you feel any better, and no matter how many times you ask “Why can’t I just stay here instead?” the only way through the post-Holiday season is to face it (somewhat) confidently.

You Blew It! – “Medal of Honor”

Back at that party you weren’t terribly interested in anyway (appropriately portrayed here as an “awkward Christmas party”), you’ve grown tired of futilely avoiding the people who’ve hurt you previously, especially if you’ve caught them talking about you to the side. No longer content to just be ignored, you demand the respect you deserve as a person with feelings as you finally spew everything you’ve always wanted to say to them. Having confirmed they haven’t changed (or maybe they have, for the worse), you finally decide to defend yourself, defiantly shouting, “I’m not a fucking trophy!”

La Dispute – “For Mayor in Splitsville”

One of the most uncomfortable parts about this time of year is the constant criticism by other adults. Sure, your family members might be understanding or even supportive of your decisions, but sooner or later you’ll run into that one relative or family friend who thinks you’ve made a horrible mistake (for whatever reason), and will probably jokingly dispense their cynicism over the course of their visit. This song recalls such an encounter, and then immediately poses that if all these stories really end in disappointment and regret, maybe forging your own path was your greatest decision after all.

Into It. Over It. – “Fortunate Friends”

Following up on your previous realization, you’ve probably noticed by now you’re not the only one faking a smile at these big gatherings. Usually they’re the people trying hardest to prove to everyone else how awesome they are (that one guy at your friend’s party who keeps bringing up his football scholarship but doesn’t mention how he’s on academic probation, for instance). This song calls such people out on their “crusade of being fake” and comforts you with the knowledge that while you may not appear the most accomplished of your peers, at least you own your current position.

Modern Baseball – “Going to Bed Now”

Honestly we could make this entire playlist with Modern Baseball songs, but this one is by far the most direct. By this point, you’ve likely been exhausted by having to approach nearly all social interaction with tact and poise around people who have no problem belittling you and everyone else there, but especially you because you’re a limited time offer as you’ll be gone again in a few weeks. As they use the post-holiday gathering to fuel their ego, with Modern Baseball’s dark humor paints them for what they really are, and hopefully gives you the courage to treat them as such.

Andrew Jackson Jihad – “Kokopelli Face Tattoo”

Yet, all the brazen verbal warfare in the universe can’t disassemble a post-holiday wrecker quite like unexpected compassion. Having navigated all the awkward moments with drifting friends, heated encounters with old enemies, and rough conversations with your elders about your life choices, you’ve finally realized that “hating you won’t make you suck any less,” and so you’re not going to bother to waste the energy. You refuse to let your time off from school be defined by how others perceive your decisions, and your resolve to enjoy your Winter Break is sure to leave them speechless.

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