Embracing Your Family’s Awkward Holiday
By: Matt Patton
The fact that Thanksgiving and Christmas occur pretty much within a month of each other makes the waning moments of the year among the most interesting. Everyone, for the most part, is in a good mood. Everything, for the most part, smells…okay. And the weather — well, the weather’s hit or miss, I guess.
Personally, my favorite thing about this time of year is getting the chance to see those tangential members of my family whose company normally wouldn’t be afforded to me over the 11 other months on the calendar. The hidden benefit of encountering the numerous branches of my family tree displays itself in only the best way possible: awkward behavior.
If your extended family is anything like mine, then you’ve done your fair share of sitting at a dinner table listening to your hypothetical Uncle Ralph babble on about that time he contracted a venereal disease when he was in the Navy and how it’s all Congress’s fault…or, uh, something. I don’t really have an Uncle Ralph, but if I did, that’s totally what he would talk about. I do, however, have another uncle who wouldn’t hesitate to ask the other members of the family if they’d seen that one movie about some businessman who goes to a sex club after he murders his wife.
Then there’s the one Thanksgiving where two of my relatives compared intense narratives of their experiences with the shingles virus while everyone was eating. That was fun. It doesn’t even have to be a dinner conversation, either. No one experiences the holidays without a certain element of awkward, even if it’s just kind of small. Even trivial questions your parents might ask like, “Are you dating anyone?” or, “How are things?” have the opportunity to evolve into weird moments after they get asked. It’s like a law of nature.
Don’t even get me started on the “kids table” and “grown-ups table” situation. The social separation of the “kids table” and the “grown-ups table” is an interesting one because, as a child, I’d spend the years dreaming of gaining access to that fabled land of maturity and wonder. The “kids table” was a club with no rules. When I made the jump to sit with the other adults, I expected it to be like a refined dinner establishment. But now that I’ve been at the “grown-up table” for a few years, I’ve come to realize maybe it’s not all that it’s hyped up to be. From the outside, there’s all this laughing going on and they get to sit on wooden chairs and have a ball. However, once you get there, you realize that all the laughing was directed at jokes about arthritis and those wooden chairs are pretty damn uncomfortable.
But I guess everyone has these weird quirks that populate their family. For me, those things are really what the holidays are all about. The peculiar, endearing oddities that my own family displays so well serves to remind me of the ways I’ve grown into my “kinfolk,” so to say.
And to be honest, arthritis jokes aren’t that bad.