Perhaps one of the most awkward times of the year comes during the infamous family gatherings that occur at least twice a year during the holiday season. I want to assume I’m not the only one who shares the same sentiment given the general media depiction of a family holiday gathering in movies and what not.
Awkward silences, raging emotions over the current political state of America, complaining about random crap no one really cares about, sports…of course, and maybe the food, the same food we eat each and every single year.
Now please don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my relatives to death, regardless if we don’t see eye to eye on all issues and interests. There’s always something interesting to learn from each and every individual in our lives, even if that individual is the most boring person on the face of the Earth.
Now to note, there’s always two ends of the totem pole here. Maybe one individual has no family at all, whereas another has all the family in the world and actually have amazing quality time with them. I’m speaking to those in the middle, people with families yet are utterly broken within. The ones who have relatives but also, for the life of them, cannot maintain a decent connection that would be even remotely considered “family time”.
For my family, it’s become an ongoing joke about the same old routine each year. Same food made by the same people, same place to meet, same channels we watch, same order in which we arrive, same pie, same board games, same EVERYTHING. Even the amount of left overs of the same dishes remain the same! Christmas and Thanksgiving have become literally copies of each other for each and every year. At least when we were kids we had played games, went outside, played more boardgames together, and simply TALKED.
There’s nothing quite exciting that happens within my family, everyone accepts the status quo to the point that even some small exciting talk becomes something new. It’s even different when we switch up the host house to be my house instead of my usual uncle and aunt’s house. At least with my uncle’s house we’re all forced into one room in spite of the urge to succumb to the corner of the house only wishing you could leave right away.
Alright, enough with the ranting.
I’ve experienced two different ways to experience the holidays. One of boring, awkward gatherings, and one of fun, excitement, and comfort (it’s sad even to say that even my work holiday parties are much more fun than my family gatherings).
What actions could I now take to change the atmosphere of these awkward family holiday parties? Well for one, be a little less awkward myself I guess.
WHAT?! You mean to tell me you’re awkward yourself!?
I’m awkward when awkward is evident in the environment around me. If I’m uncomfortable, there’s a reason why I’m feeling that way, and good reason to be.
If there were any opportunity to change this horrid atmosphere for my family, I’ve decided to take on that challenge and attempt to make that change. In my last Thanksgiving gathering I went ahead and much more lighthearted, but to no avail, I walked into the house to see gloomy faces ignoring the obvious presence of my arrival after several months of being gone.
I brought games but the only people who were remotely even willing to play had to leave to another holiday gathering.
This was a failure point.
The next day we had left overs at my place. The younger people were in the other living room and at that point I knew this was my chance. I eagerly and excitedly busted out the number one game we all loved playing each year to get the “crowd warmed up”, Scattergories.
The game was an absolute hit for all of us. We enjoyed the heck out of it being able to debate our answers, laugh, and just have an absolute good time with one another. It was the kind of family gathering I just longed for.
Then we ended and tried to bust out a new game, Apples to Apples.
PERSON 1: No! That game is for little kids!
PERSON 2: Yeah, no dude. That’s a dumb game. You should play Cards Against Humanity. That’s more of an adult version, a better version of the game. It’s literally the same exact game except for adults.
So off we were, after thirty minutes of gathering ourselves together and getting my aunt and uncle to join in, we began the interesting game of Cards Against Humanity.
I had nothing against that game, my only disappointment was how awkward it was to play with people who saw me a certain way and people I just didn’t know. My cousin realized how awkward I was, but little did he know, I found everything quite enjoyable.
All I really cared about was the fact that we were finally doing something TOGETHER.
With the night coming to a close my only regret was just drinking a little too much that night. I was stressed out and anxious so I figured a little more drinking would do the trick of reliving the anxieties I had for that night for a variety of reasons, one being trying to get the family together to do something.
Christmas was the same as usual, nothing exciting like Thanksgiving. But if there was one thing I learned from the variety of experiences I’ve had with our family gatherings, it’s that we all need an opportunity to laugh together, bond in some way, discuss our lives and go deeper into one another’s lives and simply LISTEN. As I continue to bring about these new ideas to the family in some form, I know that once I get the privilege to HOST a holiday gathering with my family, each year will definitely be a mystery, each year will allow us to connect and become CLOSER as family time is meant to be.