Harvard Lampoon

Death, taxes, and “Are you ready to go back the cold weather, sweetie?”

The winter holiday is a time during which students travel near and far to rekindle friendships and spend time with loved ones. It is also a time during which one’s sanity is jeopardized by persistent questions regarding how “gosh-darn cold it is up there.” If I had a nickel for every time an aunt or uncle of mine asked if it was cold in Cambridge, I would be able to comfortably afford Clover. In order to escape this conversational Groundhog Day, we have compiled some other conversation topics to transition to after Auntie Margaret offers to buy you a Canada Goose at the dinner table.

Lie about the presidential search

Your family has been paying as much attention to this as you have—not a whole lot. Use the line “Have you heard that the administration has considered replacing Drew Faust with [name of person with more than 5 million Instagram followers]?” This will help you develop some improvisational skills and could lead to some really interesting conversations. For example, Uncle Jorge was dumbfounded by how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson could possibly be applying for the job, especially considering that Jumanji was filmed so recently.

Subtly note that you participated in Primal Scream

Saying “Yeah, it was especially cold when we went streaking…” will turn your mother into the most concerned human being in the world, but it is totally worth it if you consider that it is a free pass out of all future questions regarding the cold weather in Cambridge. Yes, you will have to deal with more frequent check-ins regarding whether or not you have done anything incriminating. We, however, believe that this is a fair tradeoff.

Try to discuss Black Mirror without sounding crazy

This obviously is reserved for people who have watched the show, but the mental gymnastics that goes into hyping up this show without coming across as insane is far more complex than anything Blitzstein could possibly test you on. This should take you about ten minutes to do, and your cousins will probably be so freaked out by your efforts that they will walk away and cut the conversation off.

While these conversation topic shifts are not guaranteed to relieve you of the “weather conversation” every time, they will certainly make your family believe that your collegiate experience is far more dynamic than it really is. The only thing more uncomfortable than the cold weather is an awkward conversation with a distant family member. Soldier on, students.