When a family gathering is arranged, the complications can start immediately. Families might love each other, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not going to be a lot of potential for drama. The bigger the gathering, the greater the chance for arguments or simmering frustrations to come to the fore, and if there’s drinking going on as well then you know it’s going to be wise to plan. Seeing those long-lost relatives is great, but if fights start breaking out and mum spends more time crying in the locked bedroom, then all the goodwill in the world won’t help.
Here’s how to survive even the most stressful family gathering.
We all know that it’s unwise to start a conversation about something controversial when you’re surrounded by family. Different age groups and political alignments mean that even the most casual, off-hand statement can result in thrown bottles and fights.
If politics starts to be discussed, go and catch up with that relative in the corner so that you’re not tempted to get involved.
If it’s a family holiday or you’ve decided to meet somewhere that most of you haven’t been before, you might end up feeling isolated should the big arguments happen. Have some support with you. Bring your partner or even your dog. If you’re heading far from home, find some fantastic dog friendly holiday cottages in Cornwall that’s some distance from where everyone else is staying. That not only gives you an escape option, but it also means you get to enjoy some time away with your four-legged family.
If your uncle is known for downing the vodka and crying about his ex, or your great aunt always gets sad because she’s missing her home food, don’t take it personally. If you’re unlikely to be getting any emotional support during your family gathering, then be that support for others.
Make a positive contribution no matter how fraught the mealtime gatherings might be, and you’ll more naturally avoid the drama and find yourself having a much more fulfilling and calming break.
Don’t go into a family gathering expecting 100% positivity if you already know that there are going to be any issues. Families are complicated, and no matter how much you might love them, not everybody is going to get along.
Be prepared, and have that escape route ready if necessary. The more realistic you are, the more likely that you will avoid the drama and get a more fulfilling experience.
While a board game like Monopoly can actually make family fights break out, there are still some games that you can play as a group that might break up any awkward atmospheres or lulls in the conversation. Have a look at traditional parlour games, and get down to some fun rather than yet another moral or philosophical debate with the Olds in the kitchen.
Whether it’s an entire branch of your family tree that’s problematic, or there’s a long-standing argument about who kissed Aunt Sharon in 1975, the more that you prepare for your family gathering, the better. Have an escape planned, and remember: you can always choose to stay at home instead.