Mother Nature and Starbucks have officially proclaimed it holiday season, and with it comes a slew of family meals and get-togethers wherein us single folk will doubtlessly face the most dreaded of questions: “How’s your love life?”

Here is how a regular dinner conversation might go:

“Charles Manson is getting married. So, what’s keeping you?” asks your 29-year-old cousin as she is pelted with mashed potatoes by her four-year-old rug-rat.

To which you coolly study your glass of wine and reply, “I know, right? And even after I murdered all those people, too.”

Cue the onslaught of why-you’re-single theories (reason number one: a morbid sense of humour), because everyone has an explanation for your so-called gross social ineptitude. Here is how to get your loved ones to shut the fuck up.

“You’re too picky.”

If you lined up all the men I’ve ever dated, the only common denominator would be that they each played a musical instrument, including one fellow who rocked the spoons. Read: I don’t discriminate. Hirsute or clean-shaven, jerks or assholes, gentlemen – you name it. As proof, sound the trumpets and unfurl the scroll of lovers past as your family readies the toboggan. Being “picky” doesn’t mean I think I am above it all, Nana. It means I have had real connections with people and to accept anything less than that is not worth my time.

“You’re too focused on your career.”

According to the science of my kinsfolk, a woman’s biological clock will start to tick at the age of 30. On that timeline, this puts me somewhere between putting-a-ring-on-it and shacking-up-with-my-future-baby-daddy. That I have an awesome job with maternity benefits is a perfunctory given. I have been lucky enough to support myself doing something I love and it is wholly satiating. Sure, a dude can make me happy, but so can writing and this bowl of Brussels sprouts.

“You’re too intimidating.”

Poor men. My apologies, should my wit and charm and sexiness and sense of humour emasculate you. Heed this warning: any guy who is undermined by your success will likely be bad in bed.

“You’re not putting yourself out there.”

If you’re hearing this, your family is probably not Tinder-savvy. Dating for dating’s sake is not for everyone, least of all me. My girlfriends will give every would-be suitor a chance, which has resulted in some seriously disastrous confrontations. And yet they come away, better for the experience and (somewhat surprisingly) not turned off to the whole awkward affair. Myself, on the other hand, am not inclined to sashay into dating territory out of a sense of duty or obligation – is it too much to ask for that little spark?

And, if all else fails, I give you permission to drown your relatives in a boat of gravy.