A Conversation for How to Survive Family Parties
shellocke Started conversation Jul 9, 2003
My suggestion is to consider before you go that the fact is you haven't seen those aunts in many years and will probably not see them for many after so go along and enjoy the party, a few well placed comments like 'Oh Aunt Maude how old are you now, 50?' when you know very well that she is at least 70 will keep the oldies happy as they preen in the mirror, as for the kids, get them onside by playing with them, remember when you were that age and everyone wanted to kiss you ? what did you do to survive ? answer that question and pass on the answers to those poor children, they'll love you for it.
If people ask about courting and you are single or pretending to be look them straight in the eye and say 'I need to meet Mr/Mrs right before I bring them to meet my family, I respect you all too much'
After manouvering all these situations kick back and relax, after all as I said earlier you'll not see them again for years so whats to lose ?
You can call me TC Posted Jul 13, 2003
Neither my husband's family nor my own seem to have any members who are difficult or embarrassing. Family do's are fine by me and a necessary thing. We have had quite a few - on both sides of the Channel.
My husband's family, (all his cousins) after a spate of funerals, decided that an annual family dinner would be nice - i.e. to meet in a more relaxed, less depressing surrounding. We are not close enough to be invited to their children's weddings.
But sorry, I've never had any problems, so I can't say what I do to avoid boredom or embarrassment. Off the top of my head, though, I would advise:
Treat everyone with respect. General politeness is never amiss, particularly to your elders and : no patronising of little'uns - treat them like the intelligent beings they probably are.
Remember to bring a present of flowers, wine, or whatever, for the host or organiser of the whole affair - it's quite a nerve-wracking thing to get these thngs together.
Look for the best in everyone - find out about hobbies. Chances are your genes have given you similar interests which will make conversation easier - particularly between generations.
If you're a total stranger, cousins might be the safest bet to start on, they will often be on the same wave length, and more of a similar age to yourself. (But don't ignore the others. People of your parents' generation will be genuinely interested in your own career (even if it's to secretly think to themselves how much better their own offspring have fared! - but don't assume this. They do care, really)
Very important: if you haven't seen people for a while, it is be a good idea to phone someone who knows more about family matters to check up that you don't commit any faux pas by asking about the health of someone who died three years ago, or make a rude comment about a family member who may have developed a disability or had a disabling accident or illness since you last saw them.
(Going prepared like that will also give you opening lines for conversations. And will give you more of a genuine interest in your kin which might spark or re-spark some good friendships.)
Another form of preparation, if you are new to these gatherings, would be to leaf through some old photos and photo albums to jog your memory. That way, you will have more material for conversation, especially with doddery old aunts and great aunts who will amaze you with their detailed memories.
And remember - one day you'll be that old great-aunt or uncle yourself.
Wildman - I'm not really mad, I've just been in a very bad mood for 40 years! Posted Jul 13, 2003
Similarly, I've never really had too much problem with family gatherings, I don't know if I'm just lucky or what?
It seems that every such occasion I've been forced to attend seems to run to the same script - first a quick run round the relations reminding everyone who you are and making the usual banal comments, (and listening to the same!) - then the men retire to the bar and start talking about football or similar while the women huddle together and talk about the men and complain that they never pay enough attention to them. Sometime later the first drunk collapses, or tries to start a fight, and has to be dragged away by his immediate family. This signals the breaking up of the get-together and time for everyone sober enough to say their good-byes and carry their partner home (vowing never to go through this again! - until the next time).
It's like the dentists, nobody really likes it but it has to be suffered at regular intervals, so why not just get it over with as quickly as possible?
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