(Image source from: Consumer HealthDay)
A Family reunion can be both ecstatic and stressful time simultaneously since rare is the family gathering where none of the irksome questions is asked.
Some say our relatives just ask us out of concern, or because they have nothing else to discuss. But all things considered, these "well-meaning" questions can easily make a supposedly fun gathering of catching up with distant relatives into a cringe-worthy affair.
Here are some tips on how to survive this festive occasion and enjoy the holidays with your extended family
Bring a 'Wingman'
For umpteen people, this will be a spouse, but a sibling, cousin, or grandmother will also work.
One tricky part of attending a family reunion is when family members argue over their political opinions during dinner. In this kind of situation, a wingman may help lighten the mood.
Rehearse in Advance
If you already know the topics that will be discussed during the big day, arm yourself with ready responses and diversions. Better prepared than sorry, right?
Some of the questions that you will be asked by well-meaning relatives include your job, kids, or other personal topics. Practice the conversation in your head and create an intentional response.
Do not hesitate to steer the conversation toward topics you would rather talk about or give basic answers and let awkward silences do the rest.
Exercise Humor Liberally
There is nothing like a good joke to break the tension in an otherwise awkward family reunion.
According to parent expert and doctor John Duffy in an article published on brides.com, "Keeping things light, and focusing on topics that lack controversy is my number one recommendation for surviving a family reunion intact."
Scientific research suggests there are significant physical and emotional benefits from a good chuckle. Data also show that laughter lessens the effects of mental stress and stimulates the release of beneficial hormones.
A word of advice: if you choose to pick on a family member in a few family reunion jokes, make sure not to take it too far so as to avoid upsetting or embarrassing anyone.
Capture a Few Photographs
If you don't want to spend the entire evening thinking of topics to talk about, consider volunteering as the primary photographer at the reunion.
One advantage of being the designated photographer is that it gives you an excuse to leave a conversation anytime.
While you are at it - taking photos, that is - make sure to take interesting images. Aside from taking group photos, shoot some candid moments of your relatives while interacting, laughing during family games, or eating.
Make Yourself Useful
Whether it is before or after the meal, there are plenty of tasks needed to be done.
When offering a helping hand, it’s best to pick a particular task. "Even if you don't wind up doing the job you mention, being specific will establish the scope of your offer," etiquette and parenting expert Ceri Marsh said in an interview with theglobeandmail.com.
Offering to help with these chores not only makes a good impression on your relatives but also keeps you busy and gives you something to focus.
Pro tip: If they decline your offer of assistance, you can respond by saying that you want to spend extra time with them.
Spend Time with the Young Ones
If there are children present, you can give yourself a break from interacting with the grown-ups by spending time with the younger set.
Offer to carry and tell your aunt's baby a story, have a conversation with the shy cousin, or jump in and play hide and seek with your niece in the backyard. Children can be delightful companions if treated with respect and gentleness.
Plan an Escape Route
While you certainly don't want to be rude and offend your relatives, you will want to have a plan in mind to extricate yourself from the festivities when you’ve had enough.
You don't want to be stuck without a few sensible reasons, because you might end up saying something like, "I have to go, uh, because I think I left my hair straightener plugged in."
Instead, make plans before the reunion to drive one of your elderly family members home after the meal, or apologize and say that you need to be up extra early the next morning for school or work.
Duffy further mentioned that "it's a good idea to escape to your room when tensions get high, just to take a breather," he added, "This could make for far healthier, more memorable reunion."