As the holidays creep back around the corner, one can’t deny the universal climb in blood pressure that America traditionally experiences across the nation. This shared universal hypertension isn’t due to anticipatory excitement concerning the holidays or breaks in work and school, but rather the absolute dread and fear that comes with knowing we must cross paths with our extended families again.

 For many, the holidays are a joyous time where days are spent in celebration with loved ones, as these people don’t actually have racist uncles or masked childhood trauma. However, for what we would wager is a large majority of us, the holidays represent a vile and vulgar return to the roots that we wish we never came from in the first place. 

While it certainly won’t be easy, there are tried-and-true steps one could take to mitigate familial implosions from across the dinner table. Here’s a quick guide on surviving holidays, from our toxic family to yours.

Politics are forbidden

Every rule has its exception. For instance, the exception to the first amendment is that you have a right to freedom of speech, unless that speech involves something horrendous that creates panic, such as shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, or discussing America’s last election with your aunt at the dinner table.

In an effort to snuff out any and all political speech, we recommend verbally warning loved ones prior to festivities that all political talk is strictly forbidden. While doing so, add that any political talk will be dealt with swiftly and severely via what many will argue are excessive and brutish law enforcement tactics.

This next step is pretty important, so make sure to pay attention.

You’re going to need to purchase a 50 watt bullhorn from the internet. During familial celebrations, anytime politics is brought up, all you have to do is bark loudly into the megaphone about ceasing and desisting, and problem solved! 

If the 50-watt bullhorn doesn’t bring immediate relief when politics are brought up, or your loved ones begin to insist on their right to express their opinions, we recommend shooting them with tear gas canisters and rubber bullets.

2. Turn to rampant drug and alcohol abuse

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) defines substance-use disorder as “patterns of symptoms resulting from the use of a substance that you continue to take, despite experiencing problems as a result.”

What the DSM fails to mention is that if the substance use is of a result of having in-laws in town, it’s totally excusable.

In all actuality, substance use may not be the most healthy coping strategy for when the extended family comes to town, but if you had to choose between a swollen liver or run the risk of an ugly murder suicide, which would you call the lesser evil?

Now that we think about it, we can’t help but notice that the aromas of the holiday season almost seem to exist for the express purpose of aiding in our substance use. Eggnog isn’t that thick and creamy by its own nature, but was created that way for the express purpose of hiding bourbon breath from your brother.

On the same note, did you know that the tradition of baking so many tantalizing desserts during the holidays comes from the sole intent of hiding the smell of blunt smoke from our grandparents?

3. Exercise, we guess?

Every year, our cousin shows up at our house with two 40-pound kettlebells, and every Thanksgiving, he disappears into the garage for eight-hour stints doing whatever the hell a person does in a garage for several hours with the rage of God pumping through him. Though it’s not for everyone, perhaps exercising is the right cathartic avenue to refrain from punching your sister-in-law in the mouth.

4. When in doubt, burn bridges

 Within thirty minutes to two hours into arriving at your clusterfuck of a family reunion, you’re going to realize just how much you regret showing up. While you may be stuck at the event for several more hours, it’s never too late to save your future self some metaphorical heartburn and make sure that you’re not invited again next year.

To this effect, you’re going to want to scorch the very ground of which your loved one’s walk. Whether you point out how drunk Aunt Cathy’s becoming, or you yourself blackout with no personal regard to the events wellbeing, it’s very important to hold no punches with what we like to call “The William Tecumseh Sherman March to the Sea Approach to Dealing With Your Family.”

If you’re lacking ideas for how to not get invited next year, we recommend flipping the Thanksgiving table, or tying your loved one’s railroad tracks around trees.

The holidays are a stressful time indeed, and you’re not going to do yourself any favors getting six beers deep with someone who shares nothing in common with you besides the fact that you’re both related to your grandfather. Do the right thing, and think twice before spending the holidays with your family this year.