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The Ultimate Guide To Surviving Family Gatherings

The Ultimate Family Gathering Survival Guide

Charu KumarAdapt,,

The beautiful weather this time of year calls for family picnics, family gatherings, and the best of them all: weddings. Time to meet cousins and relatives, make small talk and pretend to recognize faces we don’t know [Indians and Arabs, you know what I’m talking about]!

“Look at you all grown up! I remember you being this small – running around all the time. You were a naughty one! But very chubby; you’ve lost so much weight now! I should tell your mother to feed you properly; you look anorexic!” Otherwise: “You’ve put on so much weight since the last time I saw you! And why are you so dark? You used to be a white baby!” [Yes, I’ve encountered an aunt who said that to me]

Repeat the commentary for a couple of days and that pretty much sums up any vacation or gathering that involves meeting the extended set of aunts and uncles. Your cheek muscles yelp, begging you to stop with the fake smiles and your brain is seconds away from self-destruction. So, in quest of throwing you a life-jacket, we have designed this guide for surviving family gatherings based on personality types.

Here are some tactics to dealing with people you are bound to meet at these merry events:

1. The extremely talkative ones: 

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Generally this is how the conversation goes with them: “You know you used to bite all the kids and trouble them and then smile innocently. You were a very naughty child!” Sometimes it goes like this too: “I always knew you were going to be a Doctor! I always knew my niece would take after me! Now get married quickly and make us all even happier!”

Tactic 1: Entertain their “remember when you were young and ….” story for 10-15 minutes max and then find a very good and important excuse to disappear. I generally instruct my younger cousins to come drag me away – it always works!

Tactic 2:
Take hold of the steering wheel and direct the conversation away from the above form the start. Talk about the weather or the bride and don’t let them trail off the path with nostalgia.

2. The extremely inquisitive aunts or uncles:

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Most of the time they’re digging for juicy details – From how you’re doing in school or university to how many boyfriends or girlfriends you’ve had. If you’re older, it’s generally about what your life plan is [Kill me now], when you’re getting a job [I’ll hurt you], how your job is going and/or when you’re getting married so they can mentally book their calendar for free food. Whatever the agenda, the questions almost never stop [The really tricky ones are a combination of talkative and inquisitive].

Tactic 1 [There’s only one]: Deal with a whole lot of humor. Give them an off-base and vague answer that will make them laugh or even stun them into controversial and awkward silence. What career path? I think I’ll become a bartender – Free alcohol, hot men/women at the bar and real heart-to-heart conversations. When are you getting a job? I’ll get a job before 2020 and if not, there are plenty of rich, eligible men around. When are you getting married? Oh, I’ve spoken to my boyfriend/girlfriend and she thinks we should have a kid out of wedlock first.

3. The extremely boastful aunts or uncles:

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They love to show their title and riches off,  and of course, are highly price sensitive. They start comparing everything from vegetables to clothing lines, from bakery items to fuel prices, driving you to pull your hair out strand by strand.

Tactic 1: If you don’t challenge what they’re saying, this conversation will automatically become short. They’re looking for you to give them a hook, asking them how much that gorgeous saree/abaya cost or how much the new car you bought was worth. The best way to navigate here is say “Oh really? I don’t know” to the questions.

Tactic 2: When you’ve entertained them enough to be polite, cut the conversation short by pulling a third person into the conversation [preferably someone you’re not fond of], saying something like “Uncle, you always know so much about the market. It’s amazing. Actually xyz is very interested in this.” At this point, stick them to xyz [bonus points if they belong to the boastful category] and make a graceful exit.

4. The awkward cousins:

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You remember that strange phase we went through between being cute infants and hot grown-ups? That’s the phase where kids are just plain WEIRD. They crack lame jokes and do this thing where they think out loud, but they’re actually talking to you and you have no idea what the point of the conversation really is. Alternatively, they’re very curious about your life as an adult so they peek into your phone conversations.

Tactic 1: You can’t treat kids in this stage as children or adults; so the best thing to do is let them talk their hearts out. Crack a couple of jokes, make a fool out of yourself and have a good laugh – It’ll delight them [make sure you don’t do it too much or they’ll cling on like glue].

Tactic 2:
Put them to work. They’re at an age where they’re curious but they’re looking for approval. Have them run errands [away from you] and keep busy. And for the phone thing? Screen guard.

 

5. The annoying-restless-brat cousins:

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These kids just want to touch and destroy everything they see and somehow they have a knack of finding your most precious belongings. They jump on the couch, throw the cushions, topple your mother’s favorite vase and rummage the refrigerator to look for chocolate or soda. The parents are generally too yappy and fed up to care and all you want to do it spank some sense to them, but you can’t [not in front of the parents at least.

Tactic 1: Before they come, hide everything and lock it up. Find a way to keep these kids busy – color pencils, drawing books and old toys are generally good distractions. If nothing, play cartoons and let them lounge in front of the TV. A couple of hours will pass by and you won’t kill that child [hopefully]!

And a few general guideline to keep in mind:

  1. Keep your cool. It’s only temporary [at least you don’t have to live with them]
  2. Regardless of how annoying they are, your life wouldn’t be half as entertaining without them.
  3. It’s inescapable – You know you’re going to have to meet them. Just be prepared and keep your humor about you.

Hoping you maintain your sanity through April.

Are you familiar with the above-mentioned types? Tell us a funny story or share your coping tactics with us: