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Holiday fun: helpful tips for freaking out your parents

David Schultz
By David Schultz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, December 6, 2005
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The holidays are truly a special time of year. For college students, they represent a chance to reconnect with family over a traditional feast full of heavy foods and warm feelings.

And what better way to welcome yourself back into your parents' lives than by making a shocking and completely inappropriate announcement about your new life on campus?

No one knows how this tradition was started, but every year college students feel that a holiday dinner is the perfect time to announce to their families all of the new, horrific developments in their lives.

I, for one, wholeheartedly support this custom.

The holidays tend to be staid exercises in tediousness. Making an outrageous announcement about oneself at the dinner table can spice things up and make for an exciting experience that won't soon be forgotten.

I recently started a tradition in my family where I make at least one shocking or bizarre personal statement every year, regardless of whether or not it's true, and it has made my holiday celebrations vastly more enjoyable.

So, for you the reader, I will now provide a guide to simple holiday proclamations you can make that will liven up your holiday season and, as an added bonus, really freak everyone out.

An oft-used way to make your parents lose their appetites during the holiday season is by coming out of the closet. I did this in 1999 with smashing success, only to be topped by my announcement on Thanksgiving 2001 that I was straight, which added an extra element of confusion to the mix.

However, this has become all too cliché. Many parents have become tolerant of alternative lifestyles, so the truly provocative college student must now go several steps further to stir up some real familial controversy.

One way to take it to the next level is to inform your parents that you're gay and that you're a Republican. Not only will they be horrified, but they'll also assume you've gone completely insane.

Or you could inform your parents that you're not sure if you're gay, but that you'll find out for sure at 11 tomorrow night.

While they agonizingly contemplate the multitude of things that this could possibly mean, you'll be reveling in the satisfaction of knowing that you've just destroyed yet another peaceful family dinner.

Another way to mortify all those who have the unfortunate fate of dining with you is by giving your parents an update on your academic status.

A surefire recipe for chaos is telling your father that you're dropping out of school while he's nibbling on his first bite of dinner. But, if you plan on doing this, make sure you watch for signs of choking, as a morsel of ham is liable to become lodged in his trachea.

However, the truly ambitious as well as truly shameless student will tell his family that he's already dropped out of school ... seven years ago.

I strongly advise waiting until after everyone is done eating to do this, though. An announcement like that during dinner would probably require a messy cleanup, not to mention the logistical nightmares of having to perform the Heimlich maneuver on everyone at your table.

An old standby, in case these fail to conjure up the desired amount of bedlam, is the confession that you've experimented with drugs. This usually works better if you're actually on drugs at the time of the confession.

However, if your parents are dyed-in-the-wool hippies and/or are Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, it might work better to inform them that you actually aren't on drugs and that you recently became a member of the Campus Crusade for Christ.

Here are some last-ditch options for those with truly stoic parents: You've joined al-Qaida; you're a dancer at Raider's Reef; you will now be known as Muuamar al-Shabazz Jenkins; you sold the rights to your family's story to Fox News; or (gulp) you've decided to transfer to Arizona State University.

Finally, if all else fails and none of these declarations does the trick, you can always tell your parents the most shocking, unbelievable thing you can think of: that you're doing well in school, you're making lots of new friends and you're genuinely happy to see them.

David Schultz is a senior majoring in political science and philosophy. He can be reached at

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