The holidays are a boon to lovers of food, alcohol, and family gossip. If the whole extended family will be squeezing into one small dining room, there’s bound to be plenty of unfamiliar faces to raise speculation and new hangers-on. New significant others, for example, are almost always the automatic recipients of the familial inquisition.
Other new faces will stop the cannon fire of questions by melting the cannon balls to mush. These new faces are, of course, new in the most literal sense. (#BABIES) And lucky for you, your cousin’s newest addition is going to deflect even more attention from you than her thirty-something brother’s college-aged girlfriend will.
But the attention is likely to come back at you when the cuddle hogs have realized that not everyone has had a chance to bask in the mushy glory that is a swaddled infant. And maybe you don’t want to bask in that glory. Maybe you have kids of your own who tired your arms out enough when they were infants. Maybe you could shatter an entire antique glassware cabinet just by looking at it from across the room and are afraid what your powers of klutziness could do on such a fragile being. Maybe every time you look at a baby, all you can see is the elevator scene from The Shining, only with poo and vomit instead of blood.
Whatever the case may be, not everyone wants to hold the new baby no matter how adorable its parents and grandparents find it. But of course you can’t just say that you don’t want to hold the baby without causing a nuclear apocalypse, so here are a few methods you can use to skip your turn and pass the baby to someone who will take joy in that bundle.
1. “I’m just getting over the flu.”
Hopefully your relatives aren’t a bunch of doctors, nurses, and pre-meds who are aware of the fact that viruses tend to be most contagious when they’re in the early stages, and that “getting over” your “flu” means you wouldn’t be able to transmit anything anyway. Or even if they are, all the new mother is likely to hear is the word “flu”, which, even if she got her M.D., Ph.D., and tenured professorship at Harvard, is liable to make her avoid you like the plague she thinks you carry.
2. “I ran out of antibacterial hand soap months ago and have yet to replace it.”
Hey, at least the flu’s a known entity. Who knows what kind of super STD you’ve concocted by pretending not to wash your hands after you pee? Bonus points for this excuse is that any food you touch is yours, in full.
3. “I ran out of toilet paper months ago and don’t want to replace it.”
Now, not only do you not have to get near the baby, you’ll also be exempt from Uncle Bob’s awkward bear hugs, Aunt Estelle’s slobbery kisses, your slightly-schnockered cousins’ football game, and having to share any of the food with anyone else! Win-win-win-win-win!
4. “I tend to throw whatever I’m holding at the TV when the [football team that’s currently playing] are on.”
If you are anywhere near as invested in the NFL power rankings as I am (seriously, Broncos, why you gotta be behind the Patriots in the AFC standings?!?), you can make the excuse that ANY of the teams playing gets your goat for some reason and that you would hate for anything to happen to the baby or the TV while you were playing armchair QB.
5. “Awww, thanks! Say, if you poke the soft spot on the back of the head, can you actually touch the brain?”
Everyone has wondered this at some point or another, so they can’t hold it against you for being equally curious. But the new parents would really prefer if you not use their baby as the test subject for this particular scientific hypothesis.
6. “I’ve spent the past week volunteering at a vaccine clinic.”
If your family is of the uber granola-crunchy variety, that baby is going to be steered clear of you forever. After all, you clearly picked up autism from working with all those vaccines, and now you’re going to pass it along to the llil angel if you so much as make eye contact.
7. “I’m an atheist.”
If your family is the political opposite of granola-crunchy, this will also ensure a longterm baby-free bubble around you. As we all know, atheism is even more contagious than autism.
8. “Thanks, but I already had a snack.”
Well, Dr. Lecter, the automatic downside to this strategy is that you’ll almost certainly never be invited to another family gathering again. The upside to this strategy is that you’ll almost certainly never be invited to another family gathering again.
In the interim before the rest of your family huddles up to vote on disowning you, enjoy those calorie-laden meals, and be sure to get at least two invasive questions in on your cousin’s girlfriend. Happy holidays!