It’s the time of year where many families will start gathering together for various reasons. Some people look forward to catching up with their family members, while others dread the reunion. I can’t be the only person who has believed that my own family’s gatherings highlight the dysfunctionality of our family dynamics. There were times when I felt like I was the only sane person in the room.
As I got older, I’d bring friends to gatherings so that I would have someone on my “team.” When I got married, my husband became my sanity. It is my belief that I became the same for him when it came to his family gatherings.
But why do family gatherings have to be so dreadful? I mean we can all agree that we love our family members, but sometimes too much of a good thing, can become a bad thing. No one wants to be around when Aunt Cathy’s mean streak kicks in and she starts cursing everybody out for decades of mistreatments. I’d rather skip that part and stay for the dance off.
While I’ve had my fair share of dysfunctional family gatherings, I have perfected my craft in being able to get in and out without completely cutting my family members off for all of eternity. If you have ever dreaded your family’s gatherings I have some tips that have helped me over the years.
Nothing ruins a good family gathering faster than politics. If you voted for Donald Trump, that’s was your personal choice. Bringing that revelation up in a family full of “Never Trumpers” is probably not the best idea. Politics have become a very sensitive subject these days. Unless your plan is to never be invited to another family gathering, it’s best to steer clear of any political talk.
Auntie Rosie knows everybody in the family’s business. She can tell you who is and isn’t talking to who and the reason for the fallout. Avoid Auntie Rosie like the plague. I mean, be cordial, but don’t sit down and engage in a gossip session while other family members are present. If at all possible, stay away from all family gossip. It never works out for anyone.
You might be dreading this gathering but don’t harp on it. Keep a positive attitude. If at all possible, adapt an attitude of gratitude. Your family may be bat shit crazy, but there are people in the world who wish they could gather as a family but don’t have that opportunity.
If you are a visitor for this year’s get together and you feel more of an obligation to attend rather than a wiliingness, make sure to watch the time. Arrive to the gathering on time and allow yourself a time limit. Once that time limit has been met, whether you or having a great time or not, stick with it. It’s always better to leave a party on a positive note, than to leave one on a negative one. You’ll be more likely to attend a family gathering in the future if your last experience was a good one.
The more your family stays occupied and engaged, the likelyhood of drama decreases. If your family loves football, organize a family football game. If your family is more talented in the arts, bring your karoke machine, or start a fun game of charades. Do your best to create new family memories instead of waiting around for old memories to creep in a perhaps ruin the gathering.
If you are facing a family gathering this year that you might not be jazzed about attending, try some of these tips. Be sure to enjoy your family time. Life is short.
Until next time,