Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I thought this would be an appropriate time to once again pass along the accumulated wisdom of my many years. Yes, today we are going to talk about the Family Holiday Dinner. Pay attention kids because these little tidbits could be the difference between dreading and perhaps even enjoying the holidays.
When to Arrive
Timing is everything. Arriving at the correct time is crucial. If you arrive too early, all of your coping mechanisms may be exhuasted before dinner is even served. Then you’re left hitting the hard cider and telling Aunt Ethel what a fox she was when she was younger. Arriving too late, however, is a waste of time. If you’re gonna get all dressed up and do this, you might as well make it worth your while. So, when do you arrive? One and half to two hours prior to dinner being served is good. This will give you enough time to say hello to cousins you didn’t know you had and to dole out all of your good, “this is why my life is so great” stories you have been planning in your head. And it’s short enough of time so you won’t start in on those “Hey, I ran naked in college” stories.*
What to Bring
Unless you’re hosting the party (and c’mon, whose foolish enough to do that?), you have to bring something. If you’re good, call ahead and ask Grandmother what you can bring. Hopefully she’ll let you off easy and you can bring dessert. If calling Grandmother is out of the question because then she’ll ask why you’re not dating that nice girl Claire anymore (even though you’re now married to Jane), just bring one of the following: a nice flower arrangement to match the holiday or a very nice bottle of wine. The wine will be especially nice to have when the day turns rough and you need a good drink (“Hey Grandmother, why don’t we enjoy that wine I brought you.”).
What to Wear
This falls under the category of “Know your audience.” Now, I happen to know your immediate family and casual wear with a nice sweater will do nicely. Shoes are a must, I’m afraid. However, there’s no telling what kind of family each of you will marry into. So, if your mother-in-law sends you a jacket made from the deer skin your father-in-law bagged last winter, you might want to wear that jacket – along with any other dead, skinned animals you can find. Oh, and shoes, I’m assuming, would be optional.
Who to Avoid
Let’s face it. We all have a black sheep or two in the family. Now, I’m writing this assuming that neither of you are the black sheep in our family. In fact, let me just take this moment to beg of you, “PLEASE DO NOT BECOME THE BLACK SHEEP!” Okay, that’s done. Now where was I? Oh, yeah. Who to avoid. Well, for starters, avoid anyone that drinks entirely way too much. While that person might be mildly entertaining, you could end up looking guilty by association. Now, I was going to recommend you ignore your parents as well but then I remembered that I am your parent. So, don’t do that. At least take the time to tell me how your therapy is going.
What to Drink
Drink whatever you want. How much you drink is an entirely different matter. However, if your grandmother still wants to talk about Claire and your own mother keeps fixing your collar or wiping your face with her napkin, you have my permission to request that wine. But do not drink too much. Bad things happen after the
third fourth fifth sixth drink. For instance, you could get into a fight with some guy who insults your sibling after having too much to drink. TheMonk, you might end up getting kicked in the groin by this loser whereas you’ll have to go to the hospital where Swee’Pea will get hijacked/kidnapped by a different thug as she arrives at the hospital.* I’m just saying, drinking too much could leave to some almost mythical-like events. Stranger things (perhaps) have happened.
Topics of Discussion
Oh, man. What can we discuss? While these people are family, it never pays to talk about stuff that’s too personal. In fact, it might get a little crowded with all of the elephants roaming the room but that’s just the way we like it. You might have to quickly get caught up on all of the family gossip, if you haven’t been paying attention, just so you’ll know what to avoid. I’m not going to tell you who that person is in our family but come talk to me later and I’ll tell you.
Your Girlfriend/Boyfriend’s Family
Now, as much as I hate to admit it, one day you’ll choose to eat at someone else’s dysfunctional family rather than ours. I know, hormones does funny things to a person. Now, it goes without saying that you will do anything and everything that the family asks of you. In fact, TheMonk, if the father of your girlfriend is worth anything, he will take advantage of this. Get ready to blow leaves, shovel snow, clean the attic, whatever. (Bri, I can’t wait for you to bring some
pencil neck geek nice young man home.) Oh, and when your grandmother sends you chocolates to celebrate the holidays, don’t leave the box on your bed when you go to midnight mass so that the dog of the family you are trying to impress eats it and almost dies.* Killing the beloved family pet will rarely endear you to a family.
Well, that should cover the basics. Have a happy holidays and may your family always put the FUN in dysfunctional.
*All scenarios and examples in this post could be fictional. Any resemblance to my family’s actual Holiday Dinners is most likely coincidental.