It’s that time of year again. Yeah, the most wonderful time. You know, it’s that super jolly time when you can’t just hole up and hide your broke-ness. When people don’t have the decency to let you keep your poverty all to yourself, like you can in the non-compulsory-gift-giving months of the year.
If you’re still a college student in art school, consider yourself lucky. People don’t expect much from you. Word from the wise, roll with it. Show up to Christmas dinner looking all sorts of disheveled. Tell your family your art is in a transitional phase and you couldn’t escape your new mental state to think about Christmas shopping. Tell them you’re on a verge of creating a new medium that merges technology and the natural world that couldn’t be tainted by modern day materialism. Hold out your arm during dinner and take a picture of yourself with food spilling out of your mouth. Tell them it’s because you’re making a statement on holiday food waste and facebook. You’re calling it Wastebook. Duck tape your hands to the trunk of the Christmas tree and have all of the youngsters in your family draw what they see. Let their parents know that you’re freeing their children from their preconceived notions of “holiday.” Use air quotes whenever you use the word “holiday.”
Why am I giving you bizarre and hanous suggestions to act out during your holiday season? Stay with me. If they don’t kick you out (or even if they do), they’ll get their fill of crazy college artist. Every year after that, they’ll be so thankful that you’re not making a statement, that they won’t even think about the fact that your broke ass didn’t show up with a stack of gifts. And if you do, well, it’s just a bonus.
If you’re one of those unfortunate souls who didn’t get this awesome advice in a timely fashion, you’re probably going to have to improvise. You know that your family knows how you’ve spent all of your money traveling, going to festivals, buying Halloween costumes (after all, Halloween is art Christmas).
All you really have to do to get out of looking like a cheapskate, or a broke ass mofo, is to put forth a little effort to make it look like you want to do something meaningful for your loved ones. Here are three things you can do for your relatives that will cost you little or nothing:
1. Bake Something: It sounds cheesy to recommend baking stuff for the holidays. But even if you’re a sh*tty baker, the effort will show your love, and that’s really what this holiday is all about, right? Right, materialistic Aunt Lisa? Right. Your over-cooked baked goods (nab a recipe from a from a good vegan blog), individually wrapped for each of your family members (in a creative way, of course), will serve as a sweet token of your affection. Your nephew is likely to forget who got him the giant voice activated robot in a few months anyway. When he does, just take credit.
2. Get on the card: Your parents know how broke you are. If you don’t want to swallow your pride in front of your whole family, swallow your pride and ask the rents if you can sign their card too…
3. Show up in the spirit: Okay. So you’re just going to show up empty handed. There’s no shame in that. Just don’t show up sullen or self conscious. Show up sporting the biggest smile you can muster. Laugh at all of Uncle Jim’s bad jokes. Go on and on about Aunt Maryann’s pumpkin pie. It does get better every year. Really give your family some love. Because that is what this holiday is all about.