Photo credit: history collection.com
Devil Anse Hatfield & Randolph McCoy – photo: historycollection.com
Let’s talk. You lost at the “family game” over Thanksgiving and are not particularly looking forward to round 2 at Christmas or Hanukah or whatever is your next big family gathering. Actually, the next round will be like round 6 or 14 or even 27 because your family game has been going on for years and you are on a losing streak. It is time to change.
You cannot easily change teams. You are stuck with the family you have and quitting your family entirely is not the best solution. Also, you are outnumbered, unless you have a family of two. If you lost this year to the one and only other person in your family, then while you may not be literally outnumbered you still have a problem.
You cannot change the game entirely, especially if other team members have home field advantage. If you travel to someone else’s home – even your mother’s – to play the game, then there are rules that you can’t make and rules you probably shouldn’t break. Unless you are willing to host the family gathering and set your own ground rules (that may or may not be followed), you will have to be content to play on the visiting team.
Your family game probably includes some activities that you enjoy, like playing charades or touch football. Continue to enjoy those. Also, do your part in the kitchen whether washing dishes or chopping onions or taking out the trash. The elders will think you are adulting even if they do tell you how to do every little thing. If you do some grunt work, you may score a point. Focus on the activities that make you feel engaged and content. However, rather than participate in the ongoing heated political debate in the living room or the gossip on the back porch, find a small child and a coloring book for you both to enjoy in another room. That child will have a good memory of the holiday (and you!) and you have a legitimate reason to avoid the parts of the game that you don’t like.
Stop keeping score. You cannot outwit the cousin who has a triple major in English, philosophy, and ecology, plus a law degree. Just listen to him and nod. He will tire of baiting you and move on to his next victim which is a small victory for you. Don’t engage in the minor conflicts as to who got the best deal on shoes or a sofa. Again, just listen and nod and perhaps learn about a new shopping site. Another small win. When asked about your weight or lack thereof, or a possible marriage, or a potential pregnancy, simply say “I am happy now”. Whether it is 100% true or not, if you stop at that statement you will win that match. If pressed to comment, more – turn the tables – ask with a smile “Are you happy?”
Share your family feuds! Comment below.