How to Break the News to Aunt Susan That You Aren’t Into Sloths Anymore

For the fiftieth gift-giving occasion in a row, your Aunt Susan has mailed you a sloth-themed present, based on the assumption that you are a sloth fanatic because you did a project about them in third grade. This false notion is both extremely random and incredibly outdated. 

Though you assumed COVID might finally be the thing to break her formidable streak, Aunt Susan really outdid herself this year by shipping a gift to your apartment. She sent you a sloth mug that says “Hangin’ Out With My Coffee.” It’s neither a joke, nor a pun, nor a particularly cute design. To make matters worse, inside the mug was a folded piece of paper certifying that Aunt Susan had sponsored a sloth on your behalf at a Brazilian sloth sanctuary. The money she spent on that elaborate and expensive gift could have gone toward something you actually need, or at the very least, something you don’t need per se but could at least hold in your hands (then lose under the bed and forget about on your terms).   

Her sloth-gifting pattern has lasted long enough, and it’s putting a damper on special occasions. It’s time you put your foot down and gently explain to Aunt Susan that sloths are not (nor have they ever been) your thing. Here’s how to navigate this awkward but crucial juncture in your relationship:

1. Write down your speech ahead of time. 

Gather your thoughts so you don’t get tripped up when the big moment comes. If you can’t find a pen and paper, check the one shelf in your house that isn’t dedicated to storing your surplus of sloth shit. God, how do you live like this? 

2. Call her up.  

Texting can feel impersonal to members of your aunt’s generation. Plus, if you try to text her, Susan will inundate you with so many sloth gifs and memes that you won’t be able to concentrate on the task at hand. Opting for the phone will put you in a much-needed position of power, even if, when you talk with older relatives, your voice regresses to the pitch and tone it had when you were eight. 

3. Stand your ground.

Aunt Susan might try to gaslight or guilt you. Don’t let her! If you succumb to her manipulation, you’re committing yourself to a stockpile of sloth trinkets until Susan kicks the bucket. If she asks for an explanation, stick to “I” statements, and avoid hating on sloth-themed paraphernalia in general. Just because sloth oven mitts (and water bottles and keychains and pillowcases etc.) have no place in your life, doesn’t mean they aren’t the perfect choice for some other weirdo out there!     

Mary Gulino
Author: Mary Gulino
Mary is an LA-based writer from New Jersey whose work can be seen online and on TV (unless you count streaming platforms as online, in which case, it's all online). She got glasses when she was two, and would love to talk optometry sometime.