We all have those relatives that aren’t exactly our favorites. We see them once or twice a year and they talk our ears off, ask us questions we don’t want to answer and treat us like we’re still 5 years old. The best way to handle this situation is just to deal with it, but there are a few tricks to keep the face-to-face interactions and the conversations short and sweet.
So, let’s pretend your most obnoxious relative is Great Uncle Arnold.
1. The first thing to do is to put on the nicest face you have. You’re so excited to see Uncle Arnold and you better make sure he knows it.
2. You need to be the one saying the first “hello.” Don’t let Uncle Arnold hunt you down and sneak up on you from behind. Run over to him, give him the biggest hug you can muster up, offer to take his coat and vanish.
3. When Uncle Arnold finds you sitting on the couch and plops down next to you halfway through the party, don’t immediately stand up and try to get away. Sit there for a moment, answer a few of his invasive questions to the best of your ability, and then, oh wait, is that your mother calling? You’re so sorry that you can’t finish the conversation, but your mother clearly needs your help in the kitchen… or setting the table… or taking out the trash. Anything to get away.
4. It’s dinnertime and somehow Uncle Arnold has managed to find the worst seat in the house… the seat next to yours. There are two different ways to handle this situation. First, you can claim the role of “host” or “hostess” for the rest of the dinner. Be up and down all night getting drinks, clearing plates and doing any other activity that prevents you from sitting down long enough to get in a completely uninteresting conversation with your uncle. The second option is to set your uncle on your neighbor. While Uncle Arnold is on your left, your little brother is sitting to your right. Start a conversation about the school that your brother has just been accepted to and keep the focus on him, not yourself. If the conversation starts to die, find another victim or stir the pot a little.
5. Of course, even as some people are beginning to gather their things and hit the road, Uncle Arnold will be one of the last people to leave, making it even more difficult for you to avoid him. So here is where things get tricky. It is imperative to keep your wits about you and play into the “after-dinner exhausted” state of mind. When you find yourself stuck on the couch yet again with your uncle, make sure to sneak long, loud yawns into the conversation. Let your eyelids begin to creep down and when your uncle points out how tired you look, simply tell him it’s been a long day but you’re perfectly fine. As the conversation continues and Uncle Arnold starts telling you about that time he did that thing that he thinks was funny but really wasn’t, slowly fall asleep. It doesn’t matter if this is fake sleep or real sleep; you just need to make it believable. Uncle Arnold will think how cute you are, get you a blanket and sneak away silently.
6. Once you’ve woken from your slumber be the good little boy or girl that your uncle thinks you are. As Uncle Arnold is saying his goodbyes and thanking you and your family for the amazing hospitality get his coat, help him gather his things and walk him to the door. As you hug him goodbye and close the door behind him, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief and realize that hey, things really weren’t all that bad this year.
And this is how you master the art of dealing with your most obnoxious relatives.. However, you need to make sure that you’re not rude. Nobody likes a bratty niece, nephew or grandchild. You can’t avoid conversation all night, you just need to know how to handle the situations flawlessly, making them think that you love talking to them and have missed them so much, even if that isn’t necessarily the truth.
Don’t forget that the holiday season is a time to be happy, healthy and giving. Realize that while your relatives may drive you absolutely insane, they still love you with everything they have and would do anything for you. While you can’t handle being in a room with them for more than a few minutes, this is a time to suck it up and deal with it. However, notice that I didn’t say you couldn’t do some things to make these situations a bit (or a lot) more bearable…