A love/hate relationship has been established between you and your extended Arab family... especially when it comes to their usual gatherings.
The cycle of ups and downs - aka criticism and compliments - will leave you longing for the good food and the moment you step out the door.
If you can't hide or eat your way through the evening, here are a few lies that'll make the evening run smoother than it usually would:
1. Team-up with your siblings or favorite cousins
A WhatsApp group comes in handy on such occasions. Gather your favorite relatives and come up with lies that would cover your backs.
"Cousin Mohamed has a spiritual camp and my brother and I are invited too... we'll pray for the whole family."
2. The 3-kiss tradition could come to an end
You will feel a mix of suffocation/dizziness from all the kisses your large Arab family likes to give.
To avoid ending up with a face filled with red lipstick and sweat, just sneeze and cough aloud. No one would be ready to catch whatever virus you have for the sake of a kiss - or three.
3. Food, a blessing and a curse
First comes baklava, then comes juice, and a few minutes after some chocolate and fruits.
As much as it rhymes, "Mom passed on to me her acid reflux" or "I'm on a diet" might be your way out of overeating before lunch is served.
4. If they ask about your job...
You're jobless!? Just say you have a couple of second-interviews scheduled next week.
If you are employed and your Arab family can't pronounce your job title or have no clue what you actually do, pretend you got an emergency phone call from work.
Advice: Plan it right before lunch is served, that way they'll think you're important yet forget to ask for details as they'll be busy eating.
5. The "are you still single?" question
This is probably the scariest thing that can happen during a family gathering. Honestly, just go lock yourself in the bathroom for a good 15 minutes and hope for the best.
6. Want to avoid your annoying cousin?
The "competitor", who is your age but far more successful, is always the first one to show up for family gatherings. How else would they boast in front of everyone?
Whatever they say to you, just smile and nod - and pray they'll disappear soon.
7. Body-shaming comments? More like guilt-tripping the family
The regular "nes7ane" (you've gained weight) or "lesh hek de3fane" (why are you skinny?) comments will definitely arise.
"Well aunty, I'm taking allergy pills and they contain cortisone" will make them rethink their meaningless comments.