Christmas is only 3 days away, and that likely means that you’ll be jamming into a too-small house to spend some good, old-fashion, family fun with the relatives during Christmas. While I look forward to my family’s Christmas day shenanigans of wine, food, wine, and presents (*Author’s note: which often times contain wine) I know that some people are feeling a certain sense of anxiety about bumping into the usual suspects at a family gathering.
So, to ease your holiday stress, here are some of the Big Ten Conference football coaches, recast as members of your family. Enjoy.
Urban is that self-important uncle who demands to sit at the head of the table and still wears the socks that have those little suspender things to keep them up that attach at the mid-calf like some kind of weird, dude-lingerie. He pounds his chest about accountability and the failings of the younger generation, while also crushing through sliced ham and sipping on rye. Every time he gets up from the table, everyone looks at each other side-eyed, whispers about the 6 times he’s paid for his son to get out of jail, and you can’t help but laugh out loud when you remember that time after the family 4th of July party that your cousin Isaac found him stress-eating a pizza on a golf cart after a few Stella Artois too many. He’s probably wearing one of those half-zip sweaters pullovers and jamming the F out to Michael Buble.
Harbaugh is the crazy uncle from your Mom’s side who showed up in a sweater that looks like a mixture of Bill Cosby and Mr. Rogers, but he’s so weird that you’re not sure whether you should compliment him on the “ugly” sweater, or whether it’s just something he grabbed from the closet. Uncle Jim is the dude who barely leaves time for the last of the green beans to be taken from the table before he challenges you to an arm wrestling contest and, when you decline because you’re a mortgage-paying adult with a shred of decency left, he immediately challenges your manhood with some throwback insult that would have been straight up fire-emoji hot back in 1994. He’s the dude who actually takes off his coat to try to lock you up in man-to-man coverage during the Nerf football game you were trying to have with your son in the backyard when before the sun goes down and it gets even colder. He’s also the guy that, when you beat him deep with a sick double move you saw Julio Jones use once, kicks the head off the snowman from the next door neighbors.
Dantonio is the dour-faced Uncle who has had a really lousy year. For a long time he was at the top of his game. Handsome. Well off. Now suddenly, he’s found himself on rocky ground. His business lost a shit-ton of money, his hair has started to fall out in the back, and you’re wondering if he’s positioned to rebound next year with a strong 2017 or if his best days are behind him. You regard him as a kind of guru of sorts, but are concerned that his mojo may be waning.
Brash. Outspoken. Franklin is the cousin who rolls up to the family gathering and is talking about his crossfit routine before his feet have hit the kitchen floor, where he’s sure to mingle and crack un-funny fat jokes or call you “big guy” while touching your stomach like you’re a Buddha statue at a legal weed shop in Colorado when you head back for more Christmas cookies. He’s wearing a smedium-sized polo of some kind in an effort to make his arms reflect his belief that the second amendment was strictly referring to his guns and he is completely unaware that he keeps pronouncing the name of that one kind of wine wrong.
Ferentz is the enormously rich grandfather who shows up late, hands you a wad of uncounted cash that he has distractedly jammed into an envelope. He crossed out the name on the front in Sharpie and wrote in “Merry X-Mas” while he was parked in the driveway listening to conservative talk radio lament the fall of Christmas. He’s still somehow in charge of a large company that he built years ago and that, inexplicably, has good years here and there that allow him to hoard all of its money while skimping on things like office chairs that aren’t from the 1990’s.
Riley is that kookie uncle who recently joined the family after a super messy divorce with your Aunt Jana and he former beau, the one who’s clearly a former hippie and is almost a little too chill. You find yourself wondering if maybe those brownies he brought to the Christmas gathering only contain fudge and Betty Crocker mix. He shambles out of his Nissan Leaf, his corduroy pants showing off a little too much sock at the ankle, and he seems to have no idea the kind of stressful, hectic, insane place he is about to find himself in. He really should be looking for an easy chair to slide down into and rest his old bones, but somehow he’s right in the middle of this pressure cooker. Uncle Mike has the impossible task of keeping the old men around happy, placating them as they demand tradition and a return to the past, while also trying to blend in and move the festivities forward in a manner that satisfies the young guard.
Chryst is that one cousin who still lives at home. While he’s fairly successful in his own right, he can never seem to cut the cord. He’s like a much less sexy Matthew McConaughey in a reboot of Failure to Launch. I think. Look, I haven’t really seen that movie so I don’t know what other weird neuroses McConaughey had going on, but the point is this: I feel like Uncle Paul might be a little too emotionally attached to his father, Barry. Come to think of it, did Uncle Paul just blink the SOS signal at you from across the table? Wait. . .there it was again. Hang, on, he’s handing you a Christmas card. Let’s open that up and — oh, God. It says “help me” on the inside.
Totally dressed up like Santa and all of the kids bought it.
This guy just showed up to the family gathering and no one is really sure who he is. Is he with your Aunt’s kids? A friend of the family? You know you should maybe know him, but his face is just drawing a blank. You and your sister are still trying to figure out who he is when he comes over to have some dip and make small talk and you attempt to coax out the details of whether this random stranger is actually from one of the branches of your family tree or if he’s just some weirdo with a passion for Dendrology. The moment he goes away, after not properly responding to the “Bigger crowd than last year, right?” leading question, you immediately try to Facebook the family and figure out if you need to call the cops or buy him a last-minute gift.
Still sitting at the kids table.
Tom is your Aunt Maureen’s new boyfriend. She had a rocky, intense relationship with her last man and the family thinks that maybe she’s moved on too fast. The real kicker, though? Tom was best friends with Maureen’s ex. The family is aghast. The kids are confused. And the writers from The Young and the Restless are scribbling down notes for their script as we speak. Will Tom do right by his new boo-thang? Or will he be too similar to the old man in Maureen’s life, causing her to relive old demons because he’s too similar and too close to her previous flame.
No one remembered to invite him. This always happens. 🙁
Pat is your super-talented, hip young cousin who — in spite of all his gifts — has chosen to waste all of the prime years of his life trying desperately to get his startup company off the ground. He works tirelessly. Promotes the brand at every opportunity, has sunk countless personal resources into it, and even turned down solid jobs at other companies. All with a wistful, passionate look in his eyes as he sips eggnog from his company branded glass, covered in his company-branded coozie. Every time he appears ready to break out, he takes a step backwards and has to start at ground zero.
Uncle Lovie is the guy who used to live in a big town. He was in New York; penthouse suites, thousand dollar suits, arm-candy snorting nose candy. And now he’s here. Back at your small-town gathering, having burned through everything and suddenly, bitterly, finding himself in the oppressive confines with a bunch of kids. He doesn’t like kids. He much prefers professionals. He is the one housing Gin and Tonics in the corner, staring at the door and praying that it will open and he can sprint through it to freedom. He gives all the kids rigid, unfunny cards and then doesn’t understand why that doesn’t translate well.
Merry Christmas to All And, If You Made It This Far, Goodnight.