Just go to Narnia
When you’re home for the holidays, back in the arms of family after long months at school, there is only one event that can rock everything to its core. Thanksgiving, that living succubus, comes back every year to test newly cultivated patience and tease out old forgotten feuds. But no more – there is a solution. Like most problems, Thanksgiving, Christmas, weddings, and even funerals can be avoided quickly and easily with the help of a portal fantasy.
Going to Narnia to avoid relatives at Thanksgiving can be an easy and tempting fix, but it should be used as a last resort. Try to remember that once in Narnia, you will live a full and enriching life as ruler of your land before coming home to find that no time has passed. Overdoing this isn’t risky, per se, but it is certainly draining.
Every awkward family gathering has a portal fantasy escape built into it. It’s important, even if you aren’t sure that you’ll need to retreat to another realm this holiday, to begin looking for the portal early. It isn’t always in a wardrobe (don’t let the movies fool you!) but can actually be in any closed-off and dark space. Washing machines, linen closets, crawl spaces, and your Uncle Daryl’s office are all possible portal openings.
When you’re stepping out of the car and waiting for your dad to hand you a stack of presents or a plate of hors d’oeuvres from the trunk, take a mental map of the outside of the house. Notice any sheds, water wells, basement doors, unusually wooded areas, or abandoned garages. On your way inside, peer over relatives’ shoulders while hugging them, surveying the entryway and main living space for clues. Make sure you have a moment alone to put your coat down in the guest bedroom and use this time to mentally mark off any possible enchanted gateways. Use the restroom before you rejoin the party, so you can save that much-needed excuse for later in the evening, when it becomes clear that you’ll need to make a break for it.
Once joining the party, assess the situation: how many invasive questions have your relatives asked? How embarrassing is this year’s Christmas sweater or matching family ensemble? Can you find refuge in any other cousins or siblings who also want to disappear? If you can, either try to hold down the fort with them, or take them with you. If they won’t come to Narnia, then you’ll have to leave them behind. I’m sorry. Remember Susan? I don’t make the rules.
If your attempts to make polite conversation skirting divisive politics fail, remember that Narnia is not the best escape from this. Changing location to a fantasy dinner table will simply place you in the hands of Narnians debating the white witch’s oppressive regime, whose dinner table damage nears the scope of Trump’s. If this is your biggest issue, I suggest brushing up on your debate skills, as there are no well-built fantasy worlds without complex politics, and therefore no escape. It’s best in this case to stay in our realm and stand your ground.
On the other hand, questions about your dating life, rude remarks about your friends, casserole-related violence, being misgendered, uncomfortable shoes, and all forced social situations can be left behind in the real world. You’re much too old to mistake uncomfortable silences for chewing and passive aggressive remarks for lighthearted jabs. You can either accept that there is nothing left for you in this realm or settle for the mediocrity of an unexamined life. If you would, in fact, like to forget learning how painful the holidays are, consider revisiting our article “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Pill, Blue Pill.” Otherwise, read on.
Make a break for “the bathroom” and walk quickly to each of your possible portal openings. Crawl into the opening and continue. If you hit a wall, go back. If, on the other hand, you are able to keep going, then relax, you’ve found the entrance. Don’t waste too much time looking for buttons and levers; if children can fall into these things by mistake, there’s no reason for you to bother checking for a more complex opening. Once in Narnia, make sure to find a mentor, save the world, and rule as king/queen/overlord for years to come.
We’ll be here with leftovers when you come back.
Isabel Murray is a third-year writing major who found a portal to Narnia in a filing cabinet in their grandparents house. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.