Grandfamilies with Oddballs: More Handy Holiday Ideas

Christmas Eve 2009

Christmas Eve With Our Son-in-Law’s (Oddball-Free) Family. 2009.

Maybe you have a crazy uncle who believes potty humor is the highest form of comedy or a sister-in-law who arrives with samples and brochures for the products she’s selling through the latest MLM scheme. Perhaps your holiday gathering includes a pack of nephews who are convinced that a belching contest is the ideal interlude between dinner and dessert or a father-in-law who is determined to win you over to his political perspective.

 These benign idiosyncracies can flatten your holiday joy if you let them. But before you let your, um, interesting relatives deflate your happiness, I invite you to consider strategies to unplug the irritation and reclaim your holiday delight. 

With your indulgence, I proudly present my irreverent-yet-heartfelt list of tips for dealing with the harmless-yet-obnoxious folks who may cross your path this holiday season.

  • Pick out the family contrarian. Agree with everything he says.
  • Have a teen who’s majoring in bored? Try this: “So, Angie, what did your history teacher have to say about my theory that the space aliens who first populated the New World are really H. sapiens neandertalensis  who were moving out of Europe across the Bering land bridge due to megafauna overkill at the Plio-Pleistocene shoulder and truly are bioidentical to the modern H. sapiens sapiens unearthed in Nebraska last year by the last of the Leakey family?”
  • This tactic works with political partisans, too. When Uncle Bigmouth starts explaining why the candidates representing your party are feckless hooligans, smack yourself on the forehead, leap to your feet, and say, “I see exactly what you mean! How could I have been so blind!”
  • To the (adult) relative trying to sell you something, launch into a speech: “You know, I think it’s just awful the way companies expect their employees to work on the holiday. Can you give me the name and address of your CEO? I want to write her a letter and ask her how she dares to suggest that you should be working on a holiday–and pitching to your family, for mercy’s sake. The nerve!”
  • But but but. If children in the family are selling candy bars/cookies/popcorn/magazine subscriptions/gift wrap or some other whatnot, buy lots of whatever they’re selling. And buy with enthusiasm.

Or you could do this: Greet your relatives with affection. Embrace them. Listen to them. Remind yourself what a gift kinfolk are.



rabbit conga

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

Psalm 133:1 (KJV)

rabbit conga

On Tuesdays, we’re talking about families and the joys and challenges that arise when we stretch across three (or more?) generations (child, parent, grandparent). The conversation began on January sixth and we’ll continue until we run out of things to say. Everyone is welcome, and I hope to hear each generation’s perspective.  Being family is by turns effortless, impossible, blessed, challenging, hurtful, joyous . . . . Let’s talk about it.

Please join us.

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