Columnist Cary Carr suggests embracing family awkwardness.
Holidays can be the best time to share with your sweetheart.
Hot chocolate, classic movies and a lit-up tree are all perfect reasons to cuddle next to the fireplace and sing along to B101’s annoyingly repetitive, Christmas carol playlist.
Most couples split their holiday time between their own family parties and their loved ones’ celebrations. But some families have a tendency to be a little loud, a tad obnoxious and, at times, flat-out rude.
For the person who acknowledges his or her family is downright nuts, the holidays can be a time of fear and anxiety. Introducing your significant other to your chaotic family can take all the glitter out of the snowy season.
My own family has contributed its fair share of embarrassments to holiday get-togethers. I have to start with a little bit of family history in order to accurately portray its weirdness.
The majority of my family resides in Delaware, but not in a small, quiet town or a busy city. My family comes from farmland – yes, cows and horses galore.
My uncle is known to leave bullets in the duck he shot for Thanksgiving dinner; my cousin sports a cowboy hat while the family says grace. Sometimes I hear more about how farm animals mate than I ever needed or wanted to know.
All of these little quirks only escalated my nerves when I brought my first boyfriend to Thanksgiving dinner down at the ol’ farm.
Of course my uncle stole my ex away, filling his ears with interesting facts on the necessity of feeding the cows every day and how long he has been riding a tractor.
It certainly didn’t help that my ex was covered in piercings and wore clothes tighter than any of the country boys my family had seen.
His appearance led to a series of questions and good-hearted yet uncomfortable jokes. I couldn’t wait until dinner was served, so that everyone would be too busy stuffing their faces with turkey to speak to us.
However, we managed to get through the night without any serious damage. My ex did not run away screaming from the farm, and he even enjoyed a few other holidays with my family.
My paranoia was somewhat normal, especially being in a new relationship where I wasn’t sure how he would react to a family dynamic different than his own.
In reality, I didn’t want to change anything about my family. Yes, they might have distinct accents and view things a little differently than us city-dwellers do, but they have good intentions.
Now, as I bring my current boyfriend to all my holiday celebrations, I feel a bit at ease. I’ve been through this process before; I know what to expect. I know how to handle the awkward situations.
Even though my boyfriend comes from an extremely small family who celebrates holidays quietly at the dinner table, he is able to appreciate my quirky aunts and uncles and feel comfortable in an environment much more hectic than his own.
Being in a relationship with someone who can’t accept that your family is going to get a bit wild when Thanksgiving day football comes on isn’t worth the time or energy.
Why not find someone who wants to participate in your family tradition of acting out “Frosty the Snowman,” and who accepts that when your uncle lights the Hanukkah candles, there’s a good chance the house will go up in flames?
Your family is going to be with you forever, and you can’t change their wacky habits, but you can dump the jerk who has a problem with them. So instead of freaking out over the upcoming holidays with your wacky Aunt Sally, hot-mess of a grandmother and belligerently drunk cousin, why not embrace the mayhem?
Next time you doubt bringing your other half to a holiday celebration, bite the bullet you find in your Thanksgiving dinner, and suck it up. What’s the worst that could happen?
Cary Carr can be reached at email@example.com.