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  Ah, the festive season in Nigeria. A time for joyous reunions, delicious feasts, and…let’s be honest, a generous helping of awkward convos and aunties’ side-eye that could pierce through steel. But fear not, brave holiday warriors! This guide is your compass for navigating the sometimes treacherous terrain of family gatherings with humour, grace, and enough self-deprecating jokes to disarm even the most formidable side-eye.
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Mastering the Art of Small Talk

  • Weaponize Your Wit: Laughter is the ultimate defence against awkward silences. Equip yourself with a repertoire of self-deprecating jokes, playful jabs (aimed at yourself, of course!), and witty observations about holiday chaos. Remember, poking fun at yourself first throws everyone off guard and melts the ice faster than a bowl of steaming pepper soup.
  • Embrace the “Ehen?” Shuffle: Don’t shy away from the age-old “Ehen?” question. Use it as an opportunity to turn the spotlight on others, ask curious questions about their lives, and spark engaging conversations. You might just discover hidden talents, fascinating hobbies, or even uncover long-lost family recipes (always a win!).
  • Channel Your Inner Investigative Journalist: Hone your interview skills and transform those pesky inquiries about your love life or career into opportunities for storytelling. Weave captivating narratives about your dating app misadventures, your boss’s questionable fashion choices, or your hilarious office holiday party escapades. Remember, a captivating story is always more powerful than a defensive answer.

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Deflecting Side-Eye Like a Pro

  • The “Bless Your Heart” Technique: This passive-aggressive gem, delivered with a sweet smile and a knowing nod, can shut down even the most potent side-eye. It acknowledges the judgment without engaging in it, leaving the auntie to simmer in her internal monologue while you glide away, unscathed.
  • The “Lost in Translation” Act: Pretend you didn’t quite catch the subtext of that side-eye. Ask for clarification with an innocent smile, forcing them to elaborate (or hopefully abandon the shade altogether). This tactic can be particularly effective when combined with feigned confusion about local proverbs or cultural references.
  • The Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Channel your inner Beyoncé and own the look. Give the side-eye right back, but with a playful wink or a sassy head tilt. This unexpected move can disarm the auntie and turn the situation into a humorous exchange. Just remember, confidence is your shield, and self-assuredness can turn side-eye into a harmless if slightly comical, observation.

Additional Survival Tips

  • Seek Refuge in the Food: There’s a reason why Nigerian feasts are legendary. Use them as your haven during awkward moments. Strategically position yourself by the buffet, engage in lively food critiques, and offer generous helpings to aunties with particularly potent side-eyes. A full stomach and a shared love of jollof rice can bridge even the widest conversational gaps.
  • Embrace the Power of the Bathroom Break: Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t panic. The bathroom is your temporary sanctuary. Take a few deep breaths, scroll through funny memes, or practice your side-eye deflection techniques in the mirror. Emerge is refreshed and ready to tackle the next round of family interactions.
  • Remember, It’s Just Family: At the end of the day, despite the side-eye and the awkward jokes, these are the people who know you best (and possibly embarrass you the most). Embrace the imperfections, cherish the laughter, and remember that the chaos of family gatherings is what makes them truly special.

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So, this holiday season, arm yourself with humour, self-deprecating jokes, and a side dish of confidence. Navigate the family gatherings with wit and grace, and remember, a little laughter can go a long way in disarming even the most potent side-eye. Happy holidays, and may your festive encounters be filled with joy, delicious food, and enough funny auntie stories to last a lifetime! Have a happy and side-eye-free holiday season! Featured Image Source: Pew Research Centre
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This article was first published on 21st December 2023


Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

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