The holidays are just around the corner and with it comes the much-awaited family reunion! Who doesn’t want a nice gathering with your blood-relatives where you could eat together and tell each other’s personal stories, right?
Truth is, given the fast-paced world that we live in now, the opportunity for families, be it big or small, to come together has become very limited. This sometimes leads to confusing and awkward moments during the reunion, a time when people who do not meet very often are expected to go along as if they hadn’t been apart for some time. And since no family is perfect, during these family gatherings we can also expect tasteless quips from a tactless relative, resurfacing conflicts between family members, and a rowdy racket from the kids.
Of course, things may vary depending on one’s family, but for those who are expecting such difficulties when the day of the reunion arrives, what you need is to make some preparations. And to help you out, we’ve listed down some tips to help you survive a day or so of celebrating with the fam!
1. Commit to it and attend the reunion.
You are acknowledging that family reunions can sometimes turn out to be disasters, be it highly visible or not. That’s good, that’s why you’re here and reading this. Well, our first tip for you to survive a family reunion is to actually be there. The idea that you may be placed in situations of discomfort may dissuade you to attend the family reunion, but always remember the value of family and why these infrequent gatherings must be a priority. So set aside your indecision and commit to attending the reunion.
2. Do your research.
Do your research, especially if your last big family reunion was more than two years ago. If you do not review who’s who, you may find yourself surrounded by people you barely know or whose place in the family tree you can’t even recall. So check back on your old photo albums or visit your extended family’s social profiles to get your way around your kinfolk. You can also start a chat with them ahead of the reunion to get a headstart on making that familial connection with your distant relatives.
3. Prepare some conversation starters.
Conversations come naturally when you’re surrounded by people with common interests, such as your closest friends. However, this is not always the case with your family, so coming up with a few conversation starters beforehand wouldn’t hurt and might actually come in handy. You can ask your elders about the interesting parts of your family history or their memories with your great grandparents and such. On the other hand, it is best to avoid bringing up politics into the conversation since it would likely cause unwanted disagreement between you and your relatives.
4. Watch out for awkward and offensive questions.
A well-known scenario during family reunions is getting questions or remarks about your personal life that you don’t really need to talk about. This may come at you as offensive or being too nosy, but you should also put in mind that not all relatives who ask such questions are aware of its effect on the person asked. So condition yourself to humor them with an answer be it about your love life, career, and other life choices. So when asked, “Why are you still single?” you can rely on a ready response like “I’m in the process of turning myself into my best self so when I actually decide to pursue someone, it would be based on true romantic feelings and it won’t be just an effort to cover up for my insecurities.” But of course, just giving it a shrug and saying a short “I guess I’m just currently focused on my career,” may also do the trick!
5. Bring someone you can count on.
If you’re expecting that your family reunion would get too overwhelming, you can always invite a wingman to accompany you throughout the supposed celebration. By having a reliable person by your side, be it a close friend or a partner, you can easily slip into comfortable conversations when you’re exhausted with the crowd that is your blood-relatives. And since your wingman has a strong connection with you, they’ll be quick to sense your discomfort and help you get out of awkward or tense situations.
6. Allot some budget for the little ones.
It’s the holidays, and ‘tis up to the adults to make this season more special for the children. If you can afford to give gifts or even just some ang pao with cash in it, make the extra effort to do so. You can also plan some party games with other family members and have the young ones play to win prizes! In short, make the reunion a fun and memorable one for the children so that at such a young age, you can instill to them the true meaning of family that goes beyond their immediate relatives.
7. List down your karaoke go-to’s.
What’s a Filipino family gathering if there’s no rented karaoke? This tip may seem unimportant but when your relatives start nudging you with their elbows to take the microphone and sing, it would be best if you have a few songs in mind that wouldn’t get you croaking for everyone to hear. If you know that you aren’t that blessed with the talent of singing, stick to songs that are chill and do not include those high notes. But still, it’s your call, since karaoke is there to be enjoyed by anyone who just wants to sing. So if it’s your fancy, go on and hit the numbers for “All By Myself” and pour your soul into it!
8. Watch your diet and alcohol intake.
Celebrations make up for a good excuse to have a cheat day, and no one is to blame given the tempting spread of food and drinks laid down before you. Still, make sure to resist the kind of dishes that you know will affect your health drastically. As for the alcohol, keep it to a minimum or just don’t drink at all. The last thing you want to happen at the family reunion is you saying words or making actions that you would later regret (or not even remember) just because you can’t keep your sobriety during the feast. So perhaps, save your drinking someplace else.
9. Expect a few setbacks and help out.
It is quite likely that your family reunion would be organized by family members who have little to no expertise when it comes to organizing events, and yet they pushed forward and brought the family together. So there may be a few setbacks, but with the family helping each other out, such problems would be easier to bear. So help out with the best way that you can.
10. Be sure to take a break from the crowd.
When the social fatigue kicks in, be sure to take a breather. Don’t push yourself by going on for hours socializing, because, after some time, you might just end up being bored or easily annoyed. Find some quiet place or have a walk outside to just clear your head for a few minutes before heading back. If you think you’ve had enough interaction with your family and wish to head home early, you can also prepare a polite excuse to go.
11. Freshen up for a lot of picture-taking.
These gatherings are meant to make memories for the whole family to keep, and often these memories are kept by means of taking photos! So prep up for groufies here and there when you attend your family reunion. Be there with your best casual wear (unless you have a certain dress code for the party), take a quick retouch on your occasional trip to the bathroom, and of course, smile in front of the cam with the fam!
12. Loosen up a bit and enjoy!
Despite all the aforementioned complications that may arise during your family reunion, the important thing is that you do not fail to see the bigger picture. Family reunions are put up to bring the family together and strengthen the bond that connects its members. These moments are meant to be enjoyed by the people from the lowest to the highest branch of the family tree. So look beyond the negatives of going, and see the flip side of the situation. For our last piece of advice, loosen up and just enjoy the occasion!
How about you, do you have some tips on surviving family reunions? Share it with this infographic and help out people who need it most!