Billy Doesn’t Like Aunt Phyllis: Dealing With Extended Family During The Holidays


Growing up Thanksgiving dinner generally involved my father, younger brother, and I eating an elaborately prepared meal in front of various televisions throughout our house. My dad loved to cook. Everything was extravagant. Handmade rolls, candied sweet potatoes, apricot-glazed turkey made on the grill. No Thanksgiving dishes have ever lived up.

Unfortunately, though my parents were (and are) still married, my Mom never made it to dinner time. She was a volunteer paramedic/firefighter. During holidays her pager would go off hourly; Mr. Jones fell down the stairs, Ms. Smith set her kitchen on fire, the Miller Boys down the street dumped their rusty old pickup into a ditch after a little too much ‘holiday cheer’. Mom would go to save someone’s life, Dad would get upset, and I would eat thanksgiving dinner with the Disney Channel.

This will be the fifth year I have spent Holidays with my husband’s family. His perfect, nuclear family. Mom, Dad, all three of his living grandparents, and the two of us sit down to microwaved mashed potatoes and dry turkey breast. After dinner (which happens around 11:30am) the men will retire to the living room for sporting events while I will be expected to help with the dishes. Needless to say, his family is very different from mine. I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% comfortable spending great lengths of time with them. This year they’ve decided to spend the holiday in a condo on the beach, and my husband and I are going along.

My point is that everyone has mixed feelings about family. I may complain about spending time with my in-laws, but at least I will have someone to spend it with. I mean, I’m going to be in a condo on the beach. Sure beats Thanksgiving in my room growing up.

When you or your family are feeling disgruntled about visiting relatives, try to make the best of it. Add “grandma kisses” to your kids’ ChoreMonster list for the week. Remember that it only happens once a year. Maybe offer to bring your own mashed potatoes to replace the microwaved ones.

What are your best or worst holiday memories about family?

FamilyTech Guest

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