Avoid awkward family holiday encounters with these tips

Naiya Gates, Co-Humor Editor

With the holidays just around the corner, everyone must be eagerly awaiting the uncomfortable family dinners they have been looking forward to for a whole year now. Nothing is as riveting as reuniting with distant relatives and struggling to start conversations over the table. With this in consideration, I have developed a guide to avoid awkward family questions, prolonged silence and annoying cousins. 

The minute you walk into a family function, you can count on hearing the familiar words, “Wow! You’ve gotten so tall – I can barely recognize you!” It seems impossible for a visit with grandparents to occur without them commenting on your height as soon as they see you. It is even further comforting when they elaborate with, “You have just gotten so big!” Grandparents always deliver the best self-esteem boosts! 

After that lovely encounter, you likely won’t get far without running into your eclectically dressed aunt. She is always decked out in rings and jewelry and gets straight to the point with those personal questions.

 “So honey, 12 months went by and you’re still single?” 

That is a great time to counter her remark and bring up the five ex-husbands she somehow went through in those same 12 months. Consider that conversation over. 

After greeting all your relatives in some way or another, things start to get awkward. You haven’t seen your cousins in 12 months, so the ice isn’t quite broken yet, and conversations are running dry. Thank goodness for the golden retriever wandering around that you can call over and pet enthusiastically in an attempt to appear busy and distracted. Unfortunately, there is only so much talking to a dog a person can do before checking the time, only to realize just 15 minutes have passed since you arrived at the gathering.

Finally, dinner will be served. Phew. Everyone can come together and enjoy a meal in peace…until the recent election gets brought up. Somehow every family seems to be composed of individuals from extreme ends of all four quadrants of the political spectrum. Tensions suddenly spike when tax laws begin to get dissected and your grandpa and your aunt’s opinions could not be more opposite. Good thing those stubborn personalities run in the family! 

As a conversation changer, it would be a perfect time to address the elephant in the room: the unacknowledged family secrets. Every family has their off-limits conversation topics. The unspoken rule is to never bring these up, and they typically consist of the dramatic family fights that happened last decade. Turn that holiday dinner into a healthy family therapy session and unravel that past! 

Awkward family dynamics always make for an interesting holiday season and never fail to keep you on your toes. Navigate through these events cautiously, and remember, when things start going downhill, pretend to be preoccupied petting the dog.