Do you know that family gathering coming up, the one you're probably dreading right now?
Yeah, we all have our reasons to try and avoid it, because of the unnecessary negative comments and the over intrusive relatives, personally, I avoid it because of the classic boredom. Because we've all been there. Here's how I try to make family gatherings more enjoyable, and eventually, like me, you might start looking forward to them.
This is Your FAMILY
Firstly, to enjoy the gathering you need to appreciate your family. At one point or another, you can start feeling like major aspects of your life are falling apart and everything will seem to go downhill from there. There’s no guarantee that your friends will be there, but deep down, you know your whole family will stand by your side and support you no matter what. I still remember when I was young, they’d be the ones taking care of me when I got sick. Who believes in you when no one does? Who makes sure you're never alone? Ergo, for their sake, don't frown when you visit.
In spite of the fact that they tell you comments that can make you feel self-conscious; they are not intending to victimize you. They cannot help but tell you what they think can help you and improve you as a person; what they wish someone would've told them. And if they ask too much about your life, it’s only because they care.
Reconnecting with Cousins
You may be surprised at how much you don't know about your family. I was extremely embarrassed when a friend once asked me something about a relative, something I definitely should've known, nevertheless, I couldn't give her an answer. To be honest, the experience made me feel a little superficial. When I met my cousin again, we started talking, and I was extremely shocked about how interesting her life had gotten. Her unique experiences and stories really took my mind off of the homework waiting for me back home.
“It’s been a while! You’re looking great! What’s new?” is the simplest way to reconnect with a relative. You can keep it going by bringing up the things you know you have in common (if you play the same sports or share the same hobbies). Get to know what they’ve been up to since you last saw each other, and simply listen; everyone likes a good listener.
A conversation with a close relative helped me changed how I view gatherings; she once told me, “I remember feeling what you feel now; isolated, but believe me, when you grow up, have your own family, you’ll be so grateful for every single one of these gatherings. You’ll even impatiently wait for them.” As a teenager, of course, I couldn’t fully comprehend what she was saying, but I’m sure she has a point.
Avoiding Controversial Topics
My family is very ...um, well, we cannot have a discussion without someone bringing up politics, and it's not long before we start arguing. Politics is important and all, but sometimes, all you need is a break.
So before I meet up with them, I'd think of different topics to talk about, ones they may find interesting. As soon as arguments start to get heated, I don’t take part in the conversation, and work hard to slowly slip those topics to divert the conversation. Hence, be like a duck; remain calm on the surface (don’t get too caught up in the conversations), but paddle like crazy underneath (strongly try to distract them away from it).
After having the heavenly delicious meal (thank you nana), there's usually nothing to do except simply sit, which, if you're anything like me, can quite bore you. Volunteering to do the dishes or cleaning the dining table will keep you busy. It's not much work, besides, we're young and full of energy, so make yourself useful.
If the whole family is bored, games are always fun. Game night has always been enjoyed by all cultures and gets family members closer to one another. You can suggest that you play some board or card games, such as uno or monopoly, or you can go for the more traditional games like charades. The maximum drama you'd have is someone getting too competitive, which isn't that bad.
Acknowledge and announce new achievements! Not just yours. After catching up with relatives, you’ll get to know what goals they’ve achieved and what successes they’ve had, so take the liberty to announce it to the family. The rest of the family will shower them with support and encouragement, and they’ll have you to thank.
If there are any upcoming birthdays or previous ones that the family didn’t celebrate, bringing a cake and surprising them can really show how much your family member is appreciated. Taking the time to bake the cake yourself will also prove that the effort is coming from the heart, which will only make them happier and improve your relationship with them.
Just enjoy your time, keep it light and remember how much your family appreciates you. Did this help? How do you enjoy your family gatherings?