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'I’m Dreading Christmas With My GF’s Fam—Any Tips?'

Make your holidays happy again!
by Dr. FHM | Nov 23, 2018
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Ask FHM is a corner of the internet where we fan the flames of your burning questions. Here, we dish out some tough love and an honest take on whatever potentially life-changing situation you find yourself in (while silently thanking God we aren’t you right now). Ask us anything. Except for money, and if open-minded ba kami.

Dear FHM,

While I’ve been with my serious GF for a while now, this will be the first time her family invited me to their annual Christmas gathering. I think I was raised decently enough to act properly, but I’m still a little nervous. I feel like if I blow it, my girlfriend will be hella pissed—she’s super close to her fam and I don’t want to screw up. Any advice?

We get the angst. Christmas with our own kin can be tortuous as it is, and now we have to make nice with random shawl-wrapped Tita Bhabys and boorish, beer-breathed Tito Jhuns we don’t share a single drop of blood with.

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But ‘tis the season, and you get nowhere being all Scrooge-like (especially when your girlfriend is involved). Put aside your apprehension at being stuck at a raucous reunion where every single person there not only shares the same last name, but also the same concerns:  1) How much you’re making and if promotion prospects look bright; and 2) When exactly you plan on marrying their daughter/niece/cousin (because Tita Bhaby needs time to plan her trip back home from the States, you know!).

But there’s no way around it. You’ll put on your best-collared shirt, buy the prerequisite boxed pastries for the potluck, and push away the persistent thought that your girlfriend’s dad really did see you guys screwing in the garage that one time each time you catch his eye.

Perhaps your dread is also coming from the fact that you just aren’t too keen about this being your life now. You’re not ready to accept that double celebrations of Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Easter are in the cards for you if you marry your girl (God, do you even want to get married? Is she The One? Are you stuck inviting her pa-hipster, IV of Spades superfan cousin Julio to your bachelor party? Will he wear his bell-bottomed pants?!).

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Yep, we totally feel you. But whether this Christmas is the first of many (for the rest of your life) with this family, or your one and only, there are easy ways to get through it. Suck it up, stop spiraling, and follow our hacks for a stress-free, minimally painful holiday with your would-be in-laws (or not).

Look the part. None of her uncles need to know you can drink them under the table (at least, not yet—that will be fun when the time comes). Tita Bhaby never needs to see your enormous back tattoo of Saint Michael slaying the devil with a flaming sword (though if she’s the rosary-clutching type, she may get a kick out of it). Even if you’re a moral degenerate, or a bleeding-heart, fuck-conventions liberal, you should be smart enough to know that this isn’t your show, and you need to pony up and toe the line even if it means temporarily removing your precious nose ring just to save Lola from having a heart attack.

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Yes, that means looking like a generic, cookie-cutter figure of the Nice, Catholic School-Bred Filipino Boy Who Loves His Mom (patent pending). Iron that aforementioned collared shirt, get a haircut, and make sure your shoes are clean. Mind your po’s and opo’s, and pretend that every older person at the party is your high school principal and act accordingly. Polish that di-makabasag-pinggan smile!

We’re not advocating that you change who you are or pretend to be someone you’re not. Just do your girlfriend a favor by not subjecting her to “Ang dami palang tattoo ni Carlo, no?” awkward conversations (for now). Consider it a Christmas gift. There will be plenty of time to show them your special brand of maginoo pero medyo bastos, but not at this one-time-big-time event.

Show that you care. Remember, you’re doing this for your girl. So let her know that you aren’t totally dragging your feet (even though you are). Ask for her close relatives’ names beforehand and at least find out what they do for a living, or what they’re into. Ask what her little pamangkins would like for Christmas. Figure out which cousins might be cool to sneak a smoke with later on in the evening, and which ones are creeps. Ask what her mom’s favorite cake or pastry is, so you can make sure to bring some. Consider it intel-gathering so you don’t go in cold.

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Stick to your script. If this isn’t your first time at the rodeo, then you know that pretty much the same questions come up during the usual chikahan. Have a ready and solid answer for the usuals, and don’t bother to delve too much into the details (unless they ask, so if you’re bullshitting, make sure your research goes deep). What do you do? Where are your parents from? Mahilig ka ba sa basketball? Make sure you have the right, succinct answers to all. (For the last one, the answer is always yes—never mind that you haven’t held an actual ball in years. NBA 2K17 counts).

Don’t drink like a fish. This is always rocky ground. Decline a drink, and the uncles think you’re a pussy. Say yes, and the aunties believe you’re an alcoholic. Here’s a smart cue: Check if your girl’s dad is drinking and what his poison is. Ape accordingly (unless dad is a raging drunk). That way, Daddy Dearest isn’t intimidated by the fact that you can drink Johnnie Walker neat when all he can manage is a lukewarm Pale Pilsen, and you can play it cool with everyone. Otherwise, just say yes to a beer and nurse it as long as you can. Pace yourself, and stick to the pulutan. Better to be thought of as patay-gutom than a lasinggero.

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Focus on your girlfriend. If she prefers you mingle, make that effort. If she’s as antisocial as you are, then stick by her side and share silent chuckles over how your cousin is single-handedly demolishing the lechon. Serve her—make sure you get her food before you do, and do all the usual boyfriend-y things she loves (save for the R-rated stuff, but that goes without saying).

Let it roll off you. You won’t please everyone. You might hear that some tita thinks you’re presko, while another will think you’re too quiet and should speak up more. People will always judge you, and surely your ego isn’t that fragile to be shattered by a random, Vicks-scented senior citizen. Besides, you’re secretly judging all of them too, anyway. Live and let live, and to all a good night!

Illustration Borg Sinaban


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