Holidays: The Young Adult Struggle


For many, the holidays are one of the best times of year. The Christmas season allows us to spend time with our families, enjoy a few good meals, make new memories and, if you’re lucky, you’ll also get a few days off of work/school, too.

Even with all the holiday cheer, the holidays can be a straight up struggle for us Woke, Black Millennials to get through. For us, being with all our family’s generations under one roof can sometimes be as challenging as it is joyful. This Christmas Eve, I’m sorting out three reasons why the holidays sometimes work our last nerve, and the support you need to make it through.

1.) After receiving a certain level of a college education, or exposure to life away from your family in general, you may start to realize that some of your family members say/do things that are lowkey problematic af.

Example: Your Auntie Sophia has stood on the front lines of protest in the fight for African American civil rights and equal treatment, but she uses generalized “they” statements when describing other groups. She sometimes speaks of other ethnic and religious groups with a tone that’s just as problematic as that of any white supremacist. She’ll say things like, “You know [insert minority group]? THEY like to do this, and THEY do that, and you know THEY don’t believe in…” She speaks on other people’s customs as if all the members of said group do the same thing. Auntie is out here perpetuating stereotypes of others, as we cringe listening, but would probably be ready to fight if someone spoke about her own people that way. What’s even more frustrating than listening to the contradictory logic, is being deemed the disrespectful 19-34 year old who needs to “stay in a child’s place” when you correct her. And let’s not get started on Mama Joe who pushed through life as an independent, self-made woman, but still has somewhat sexist expectations of how her male and female grandchildren should operate…I rest my case.

2.) Some Black people like to act as though sharing the same blood cancels out someone being a bad person.

This is why we have so many families in which the known child molester is still present at family functions. That’s an extreme example, of course, but it certainly does happen (far too often, I might add). Many of us have grown up listening to the family elders spill the tea about the past and perpetual misdoings of some family members toward others. But for some reason, it’s been my experience that while folks seem to be so fed up with certain people’s behavior behind closed doors, they still feel the need to hold on for dear life to ties that cause more pain and turmoil than mutual respect or fulfillment. Somehow, the same mess that everybody is supposedly tired of, is still invited to the cookout. This becomes difficult to be patient with as a young adult bystander who has grown up in the age of “Don’t just talk about it, be about it.”

Bad people are just bad people sometimes, and family ties don’t overshadow that. I love all of my family members, but I also believe that sometimes you have to love people from a distance, especially when there’s a certain level of discrepancy between your and their ideas of boundaries and right vs. wrong. In my opinion, reclaiming your time and space from those types of people is okay. I feel that if more people considered that, then maybe holidays would be less dysfunctional for some families, and years of trauma may actually start to heal.

3.) Backhanded comments attached to “I love you.”

I recently saw a meme that said “Black people need to learn that ‘You’ve gained weight,’ is not a greeting.” This is so true, and y’all know exactly what I’m talking about. You walk into Christmas dinner and before they even say, “Hello,” one of your elders makes some sideways comment about your body, appearance, or relationship status.

“You’ve been eating good, haven’t you?”

“What’s going on with that hair?”

“Mmm, this isn’t the same girl/boy you brought last year is it?”

When this happens, fighting to stifle the clapback waiting in your back pocket gets REAL. But, many of us end up shaking it off in the name of being respectful. As the gathering goes on, you may be grilled about everything from your position in life or school, to your goals and style preferences, and then have someone tell you what you should be doing instead. Meanwhile, your big cousin who hasn’t had a job or life plan in two years and doesn’t plan on getting one any time soon, isn’t interviewed by the crowd at all. The whole ordeal can be quite exhausting, to be honest.

Yes, I know that family members give us young people advice (whether solicited or not) because they love us and want the best for us. I acknowledge that the intentions behind whatever remark they toss your way are usually good, or at least intended to be helpful.

My only question is: Culturally, why do so many of us experience more “tough love” than positive reinforcement?

Feeling picked apart in the name of love can be a huge turnoff, and I feel like that’s part of the disconnect between the younger and older generations of some Black families. Sometimes, it’d be nice to just be asked how you’re doing, encouraged, told that you’re loved, and then enjoy a peaceful meal before somebody starts coming for your life. That’s all I’m saying.

To my Kultured Queens and Kings who know the young adult holiday struggle, this post is dedicated to you. Know that you’re not alone, and your voice still matters. Your perspective is still valid, even when others pull the age card in an attempt to silence or discredit your views. Even though it may get tough, it’s important to try to find the positive in every interaction during the holiday season. Whether it’s killing them with kindness, or even throwing in a bit of light shade of your own to end unnecessary prodding, find a way to curve any negative energy that may come your way. If nothing else, remember to be appreciative for the family you do have regardless of its flaws, and when all else fails, let your holiday plate divert your attention away from any mess.

Sending much love from my family to yours this season. Happy Holidays, y’all!


For many, the holidays are one of the best times of year. The Christmas season allows us to spend time with our families, enjoy a few good meals, make new memories and, if you’re lucky, you’ll also get a few days off of work/school, too.

Even with all the holiday cheer, the holidays can be a straight up struggle for us Woke, Black Millennials to get through. For us, being with all our family’s generations under one roof can sometimes be as challenging as it is joyful. This Christmas Eve, I’m sorting out three reasons why the holidays sometimes work our last nerve, and the support you need to make it through.

1.) After receiving a certain level of a college education, or exposure to life away from your family in general, you may start to realize that some of your family members say/do things that are lowkey problematic af.

Example: Your Auntie Sophia has stood on the front lines of protest in the fight for African American civil rights and equal treatment, but she uses generalized “they” statements when describing other groups. She sometimes speaks of other ethnic and religious groups with a tone that’s just as problematic as that of any white supremacist. She’ll say things like, “You know [insert minority group]? THEY like to do this, and THEY do that, and you know THEY don’t believe in…” She speaks on other people’s customs as if all the members of said group do the same thing. Auntie is out here perpetuating stereotypes of others, as we cringe listening, but would probably be ready to fight if someone spoke about her own people that way. What’s even more frustrating than listening to the contradictory logic, is being deemed the disrespectful 19-34 year old who needs to “stay in a child’s place” when you correct her. And let’s not get started on Mama Joe who pushed through life as an independent, self-made woman, but still has somewhat sexist expectations of how her male and female grandchildren should operate…I rest my case.

2.) Some Black people like to act as though sharing the same blood cancels out someone being a bad person.

This is why we have so many families in which the known child molester is still present at family functions. That’s an extreme example, of course, but it certainly does happen (far too often, I might add). Many of us have grown up listening to the family elders spill the tea about the past and perpetual misdoings of some family members toward others. But for some reason, it’s been my experience that while folks seem to be so fed up with certain people’s behavior behind closed doors, they still feel the need to hold on for dear life to ties that cause more pain and turmoil than mutual respect or fulfillment. Somehow, the same mess that everybody is supposedly tired of, is still invited to the cookout. This becomes difficult to be patient with as a young adult bystander who has grown up in the age of “Don’t just talk about it, be about it.”

Bad people are just bad people sometimes, and family ties don’t overshadow that. I love all of my family members, but I also believe that sometimes you have to love people from a distance, especially when there’s a certain level of discrepancy between your and their ideas of boundaries and right vs. wrong. In my opinion, reclaiming your time and space from those types of people is okay. I feel that if more people considered that, then maybe holidays would be less dysfunctional for some families, and years of trauma may actually start to heal.

3.) Backhanded comments attached to “I love you.”

I recently saw a meme that said “Black people need to learn that ‘You’ve gained weight,’ is not a greeting.” This is so true, and y’all know exactly what I’m talking about. You walk into Christmas dinner and before they even say, “Hello,” one of your elders makes some sideways comment about your body, appearance, or relationship status.

“You’ve been eating good, haven’t you?”

“What’s going on with that hair?”

“Mmm, this isn’t the same girl/boy you brought last year is it?”

When this happens, fighting to stifle the clapback waiting in your back pocket gets REAL. But, many of us end up shaking it off in the name of being respectful. As the gathering goes on, you may be grilled about everything from your position in life or school, to your goals and style preferences, and then have someone tell you what you should be doing instead. Meanwhile, your big cousin who hasn’t had a job or life plan in two years and doesn’t plan on getting one any time soon, isn’t interviewed by the crowd at all. The whole ordeal can be quite exhausting, to be honest.

Yes, I know that family members give us young people advice (whether solicited or not) because they love us and want the best for us. I acknowledge that the intentions behind whatever remark they toss your way are usually good, or at least intended to be helpful.

My only question is: Culturally, why do so many of us experience more “tough love” than positive reinforcement?

Feeling picked apart in the name of love can be a huge turnoff, and I feel like that’s part of the disconnect between the younger and older generations of some Black families. Sometimes, it’d be nice to just be asked how you’re doing, encouraged, told that you’re loved, and then enjoy a peaceful meal before somebody starts coming for your life. That’s all I’m saying.

To my Kultured Queens and Kings who know the young adult holiday struggle, this post is dedicated to you. Know that you’re not alone, and your voice still matters. Your perspective is still valid, even when others pull the age card in an attempt to silence or discredit your views. Even though it may get tough, it’s important to try to find the positive in every interaction during the holiday season. Whether it’s killing them with kindness, or even throwing in a bit of light shade of your own to end unnecessary prodding, find a way to curve any negative energy that may come your way. If nothing else, remember to be appreciative for the family you do have regardless of its flaws, and when all else fails, let your holiday plate divert your attention away from any mess.

Sending much love from my family to yours this season. Happy Holidays, y’all!



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