Worst-Case Wednesday: Family Gatherings

Posted by Erin McInerney

Yes, it's a Christmas movie, but we love it.

The month of April heralds the start of the spring and summer holiday season. And, as everyone knows, the holiday season means one thing: family get-togethers.

If you don’t celebrate Easter or Passover and get to skip those family gatherings, chances are that, between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day in May and then Father’s Day in June, at some point in the near future you will be expected at a family dinner. For some, this news might be cause for celebration! What’s better than family and good food, especially when it’s finally nice outside? BUT for others, these past few sentences may have unleashed a storm of anxiety and fear.

From outrageous relatives to food disasters, family gatherings carry the potential to go south very quickly. Before you rush to come up with a list of excuses for why you’ll be busy for the next three months, take a peek at The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Life for tips on how to survive (and maybe even enjoy) your next family visit.

Parents Pressure You to Have Grandkids: Take in a few dogs and cats from the local animal shelter. When your parents come to visit your menagerie, explain that you are preparing yourself for eventual parenthood by taking care of other lifeforms first, as you’ve read it’s an excellent preparation for children of your own. Ask your parents to animal sit as much as possible.

Seated Next to a Boor: Turn the conversation into a game. Allow yourself to take another sip of wine each time the boor says something offensive or clueless, or keep a running tally of each time he tells a story about himself. Try to ensnare other diners into the conversation by offering details from the boor’s tale for comment (“Matt, you’ve got a lawnmower, don’t you?”).

Excuse yourself from the table-to the kitchen, restroom, or to get something from your car-and remain away from the table for as long as possible until the boor turns to another conversational victim.

Serve Terrible Dinner/Food: Develop a series of (fake) potent allergies to whatever it is they plan to cook. Alternatively, announce that you have a tremendously sensitive stomach and the only thing you can hold down is a bowl of cereal and/or a peanut butter sandwich. Eat before you arrive.

Conversation Gets Heated: Disrupt the conversational flow by serving the next round of food, dessert, coffee, or another round of drinks. Tap the side of your glass with a fork and offer a toast to family, friendship, or togetherness. Solicit help from your dinner companions for some complicated, fictitious problem that can become the all-consuming focus of attention.