Ahh, Christmas break. The promise of relief from schoolwork and a much-needed break in the routine is right around the corner.

Joyful reunions with family and loved ones, home-cooked meals, holiday celebrations and all that sweet, sweet free time awaits you! 

What an idyllic, perfect notion …

And it is, until you hit week number two and suddenly your dear, sweet siblings are back to being nuisances, your friends are halfway across the country (or county, if you’re lucky), and you’ve already checked off all the usual hometown outings. 

Despite what my family may think, I don’t actively try to avoid going home. After all, there’s a reason for the phrase about absence making the heart grow fonder. It’s all about small doses. 

The unfortunate side of this is that the less frequently you’re spotted in your hometown, the more chatty well-meaning adults become (specifically your parents’ church friends and distant relatives). 

If even just the thought of having to suffer through one more conversation about your nonexistent future plans with your sixth cousin Cheryl makes you want to hide in the basement of the Good Library until January, you’re not alone. And if you actually do have your life together — well, just give it another semester and then tell me how that’s working out for you. 

But one of the lessons every college student must learn is that it’s important to face your fears and pretend everything is under control. Enter those inevitable conversations prepared, or maybe even come up with a cryptic answer to avoid further interaction. 

I’d suggest something like, “I’ll go where the wind takes me.” Just be sure to nail the wistful, far-off look as your interrogator struggles to come up with a cheery response.

On the plus side, going home often means reuniting with beloved pets! If you’re bored over break, a good brain exercise could be to devise a plan to smuggle your furry friend back to school with you. Just make sure it works, or else you’ll have to deal with an unamused family and/or Res Life. 

My final piece of holiday advice is to pick up a new hobby. Make a plan for how you’re going to combat the crushing boredom of a month of unstructured time. 

Think long and hard about this, now. It’s important. Now, once your plans are sufficiently ambitious, the next step is to either fully commit and absorb your newfound passion project as a part of your personality, or promptly not follow through at all and instead binge-watch an ungodly amount of Netflix. 

No matter where the hometown roads take you over break, remember to relax and enjoy spending time with your loved ones. And once they get too annoying, embrace the opportunity to escape via higher education.