Why you should care
Because beyond turkey and gravy, it’s all about managing the stuffing.
It’s that time of year again, when the rocky shoals of the holidays loom ahead, outlined against the backdrop of functioning family dysfunction, gut-busting caloric intake and all manner of interpersonal trouble. The thing is, if you’re going back to the homestead, you’re also going back to those you knew when — specters of the past who are also going or who’ve never left. And some of those will be people you’ve slept with. All jacked up on mulled wine, mashed potatoes, the casual boredom of idle time and a whole lot of bad judgment.
“It seemed to make sense at the moment,” said property developer Salvatore Russo about a return visit to Philadelphia from his home in San Francisco one year. He called an ex, they broke away from their respective family togetherness and big Italian family screaming, and made their way to a nice eatery. Things started out normally enough.
Consider the perils of spontaneous, romantically inclined holiday get-togethers …
Then he noticed that the more he talked about his recent professional successes, the more she drank. “I’m so used to the Bay Area where that’s all anybody ever talks about. I forget how that might have played back in the old neighborhood,” Russo said. His ex drank, and when he started to talk about exercising, she, suddenly hyper-aware of the weight the years had added, stopped eating. Stopped eating, but not drinking. Chat about common hobbies soured into what she saw as “competing with each other,” Russo recounts, still chagrined. It went from bad to worse on an express ticket, and next thing he knows she’s standing up and screaming that this date is over and it was a terrible idea in the first place.
“Standing is really the wrong word. I should have noticed that she was more weaving.” She reared back from the table, overcorrected, then lunged forward, hitting her head on the iron upright before coming to an unconscious stop with every plate, glass and piece of cutlery spread around her twisted legs sticking out from under the table. Grabbing both of her feet, Russo pulled her out, sat her back in the chair and waited for her to come to, while trying to convince the restaurant staff that they didn’t need to call an ambulance. “And the worst part?” Russo smiled wanly in the retelling. “When I drove her home, I went in for a good-night kiss anyway.” And her response? She screamed, “I’m SO embarrassed!” and fled the vehicle.
While one anecdote doesn’t an M.O. make, it’s pretty clear that the perils of spontaneous, romantically inclined holiday get-togethers have much more to do with inadvisable emotional decisions and much less with turkey and bowl games. Curiously enough, facts and figures suggest that plenty of Americans hazard the holiday hookup: After summertime, holidays run a close second as a likely circumstance for getting sexy.
“Holidays create an instant intimacy that may or may not be real,” said a marriage counselor we reached out to for counsel. “But unless this is something you’ve thought about and planned out, it’s going to do as well as anything else you don’t think about or plan.” In other words, just because we are hooking up more during the holidays doesn’t mean we should be. We’ll stop short of saying, “don’t” because you’re all adults but, well, you have been warned.