Holidays are a time for rejoicing and celebration away from the busy schedules. They allow us to unwind, relax, and enjoy the break from work or studies. Holidays are also when people often visit their families and have reunions and get-togethers to participate in good family fun and recall fond memories from the past.
Not everyone finds these reunions fun, though, and, in fact, some find their families downright intolerable. Without passing any judgment, let’s assume that you don’t share the same kindred bond with your family, and you’d be overwhelmed, feel awkward, and uncomfortable if you were to make it to your parents’ for the holidays. As insufferable as they might be, you are stuck with your folks forever, so might as well try and have a good time when you see them next.
Go ahead and stop dreading the reunions and don’t let spending a day or two stop you from seeing your loved ones. Here, we have compiled a list of family reunion survival tips that will help you make it through unscathed:
Take a Book with You
In the words of Hemingway, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” Indeed, a good book can prove to be your best friend and savior. Keep your favorite books close at hand and be ready to dive into one as soon as you have time to relax a bit. Reading will save you from engaging with the nosy uncles who want to know your plans for the future as if you owe them an explanation. Once you are done with the meet and greet, you can find a quiet corner and prop open a book and start reading.
In-house family reunions can get boring. Ask your hosts about any shows playing in the area. If your family lives in the quiet suburbs of Tennessee, you should make it to Pigeon Forge, where you’ll find the world’s best shows, played out in front of you while you enjoy your dinner. Find if there is a family-seating capacity at the shows in pigeon forge and then book a family table for your loved ones.
Help with Managing Chores
A family gathering means there is a lot to be done in terms of arrangements. Lend a helping hand to the host(s) with the laying down the arrangements for seating, décor, food preparations, running last-minute errands, etc. It sends the host a gesture that you are helping person and they will be thankful for your out-of-the-way kindness.
Doing this will not only keep you busy but also put a distance between you and any toxic gossiping. Plus, when you are occupied with the chores, you will have no room to think negative thoughts.
Stick to the People You Have a Good Rapport with
Everyone has one or two close family members that they really get along with. They just match your frequency and vibe with you in a different way. It could be your cousin or that favorite aunt of yours whom you always like to meet. In their company, you can loosen up, and have those long-overdue conversations that you had sorely missed. As they bless you with their company, repay them in kind and stick a little longer by their side.
Reunion Treasure Hunt
You can make your family reunion fun by letting your family gather and play a reunion treasure hunt game. Divide the guests into teams and let them hunt for unusual items that you have hidden away in the unlikeliest of places around the house.
A treasure hunt lasts for a couple of hours and is an amazing way of occupying everyone with something fun to do. Treasure hunts are also a great way of developing practical skills, like communication, decision making, and team-work.
Spend Time with Children
Getting along with the kids is way better than with adults. Children are full of energy and can rub some of that on you if you stick around and play with them for a while.
Painting, drawing, Lego, Jenga blocks, hide & seek, etc., are activities universally loved by kids of all ages. Children learn a lot by playing. If you could incorporate important life lessons into the games you play and stories you tell them, the lessons will be much easily retained.
Take a Walk
When overwhelmed with the commotion of the reunion, take a walk around the block. If nature is close by, stroll into it and take in the crisp air to center yourself. Walking helps stabilize the mood, increases blood flow throughout the body, and keeps you in a mindful state. You could either stroll on your own or take a loved one along with you for deep conversations while you walk.
Volunteer For a Task
Get yourself busy by volunteering to do a particular task. For example, you could take charge of the BBQ grill and be the barbecue chef for the entire evening. You could also help with the beverage situation at the reunion. Taking up a task will help you stay focused on that which needs doing and you won’t even know before the evening is over.
Become the Photographer
Snap a few memorabilia of the evening. Who doesn’t like to nostalgize over a couple of brilliantly taken snaps at the reunion from a few years back? Grab your DSLR or even point your smartphone camera and start clicking and freezing moments of the event.
Capture candid moments, freeze those expressions of carefree laughter, and immortalize the evening. Photography is not just a hobby, but a way to strengthen the familial bonds through moment capturing.
Your mental health comes before anything else. If you find yourself in a conversation that is triggering something inside of you, it’s best just to up and leave and join in later when the conversation has turned to something positive. You should politely excuse yourself and let your family know that you have certain boundaries that you don’t want violated.
Remember to Forgive Yourself
You may feel guilty or embarrassed for needing your own space at a family gathering. But remember, you are a human and it’s only natural to feel this way. Forgive yourself because there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Be proud of yourself that you came despite your reluctance to step out of your comfort zone.
Bear with Your Loved Ones
Now at the reunion may be your family members, conversations, and moments that might make you feel a little anxious or uneasy. However, try not to get too hung up on negatives and look at the positives of the holiday season. You finally get to meet the family members that you had been wanting to meet for a long time. If all goes well, you will have fun-filled evening, outside of the burdens and pressures of your day-to-day drudgery.
Reunions offer us the opportunity to spend some quality family time. But some families don’t just gel all that well. So, if you find yourself in a reunion that you had to reluctantly go to, you can take a book with you, spend most of your time at the reunion with a close loved one, plan an outdoor event, and offer to help with the chores. Having said that, never compromise on keeping strong boundaries, so that you let everyone at the reunion know that you are there to have a quality time and wouldn’t waste it with toxic conversations.