There’s a reason why The Office remains the go-to Netflix time-killer for when you’re all caught up on the latest episode of whatever high-end drama you watch to sound cool in front of your friends.
That reason is simple: Awkwardness is hilarious. The more cringe-inducing, the funnier it is to put back on and laugh at the discomfort of others from the very comfort of your own living room.
But the only thing that’s more entertaining than watching awkwardness play out on TV is actually being part of the awkwardness, orchestrating painfully uncomfortable silences and baiting insane conversations like a maestro, masterfully conducting a symphony of discomfort.
This year, instead of simply partaking in family meals, navigating small talk by mentioning how moist the turkey is when things start to get heavy, make your holiday unforgettable by creating a meal so awkward it will go on to live in family lore, like the time Michael Scott unveiled his “Date Mike” persona and almost got banned from Dave & Busters.
Here are some tips to have the most awkward holiday meal ever.
Use the saying of grace to get some things off your chest.
The opening meal prayer is a great time to set the tone for the rest of the dining experience—by praying that God would convict your family members of the stuff you’ve been mad at them about.
Technically, they can’t get mad at you because you’re praying. Everyone knows this rule.
Use the opportunity to passive aggressively ask the Lord to reach cousin Lindsey’s new boyfriend who has clearly been backsliding, pray that Uncle Frank would feel compelled to finally return that $100 he owes you or gratefully thank our Heavenly Father for Aunt Sally finding room in her busy schedule to finally have the courtesy to show up to a family gathering (even though the potato salad she brought was clearly purchased at the store on the way over).
And they all will say, “Amen.”
Start discussing the benefits of keto.
You know what people love, especially at meal time? Hearing about how the new diet you adopted after watching 20 minutes of a very compelling Netflix documentary has revolutionized your life, and everyone else is ingesting “toxins” that are particularly unfit for human consumption.
While loading your plate with the third helping of whatever animal protein is on the table, comment about how those freshly baked dinner rolls Grandma got up at 4 a.m. to start preparing are an affront to the way God designed digestion to work. Everyone will be impressed.
Accuse a family member of heresy.
When the right moment arrives, between bites, throw out the question, “So, is anyone reading any good books?” There’s a good chance someone will mention a title by a Christian author. It really doesn’t matter who it is, you can probably find something to criticize them for. The longer you are a Christian, the more natural it is for you to find some minor theological idea to escalate to the point of shameful disbelief that someone in your own family would read such a “dangerous” book. Suggest the excommunication, and let the awkwardness ensue.
Weigh in on the latest political scandal.
In the past, mentioning some fringe conspiracy theory, baiting an uncle into arguing about a nuanced policy issue that he seems to be extremely confused by or openly insulting people who think differently could have done the trick. However, times have changed. All of these have become part of the day-to- day discourse.
Instead, talk about a political issue with thoughtfulness, compassion, grace, nuance and most of all, reason. Everyone will be so confused by this foreign approach to political dialogue that a dumbfounded silence will fall over the table, creating an extended period of deafening awkwardness.
Use the meal as a recruitment opportunity for your MLM business.
An extended meal time with family members is a perfect opportunity to convince potential upstreams to invest in an exciting opportunity to sell leggings/ nutritional supplements/makeup/ whatever is your multilevel marketing business. As anyone who has ever been subjected to such a pitch already knows, there’s nothing more awkward than having to tell the “business owner” that you literally have zero interest in investing or lending them money because as it turns out, they are in pretty far over their heads with the whole thing.
Throw out some opinions on political correctness.
Honestly, it doesn’t really matter what you have to say about political correctness. Someone will likely be either offended by your callousness or outraged by your desire to “censor” them.
The term alone, even when randomly shouted with zero context, seems to trigger an irrationally strong reaction in most circles. In other words, it’s exactly the kind of thing you’re going for. Because there’s nothing more awkward than sitting across the table from someone offended or outraged by something you said, even if what you said are just the words “political correctness” at a very high volume.
Jesse Carey is a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast and member of RELEVANT's executive board. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.