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Mondays Love to Hate: Family Gatherings

With Holidays creeping around the corner, my nerves are building. Having toddlers to tote around on the holidays sends my stress level through the roof. It’s not that my kids are bad. There’s just a lot more multitasking than usual.

I love so many aspects of the holidays and seeing all of my family. It’s a great time to show everyone how far you’ve come in life and then not speak to them for the majority of the calendar year.

I love to hate family gatherings because there is a cluster of good and bad. Depending on the gathering, there may be more good than bad or vice versa.

The family gatherings with my family are so much more intense than with my husband’s family. My family is bigger and louder. They are like an invasive species, and one of my aunts or cousins will rub up on my husband while asking if I lost weight.

We usually meet at my grandmas, who is the hosting queen. She once made a cake for Jesus on Christmas and sung him happy birthday in her prayer. Not kidding. We aren’t even super religious. It was entertaining.

My gram is the head of our family. She’s the hub for holidays and gossip. She has 3 daughters, the oldest is my mother. My pap usually hides in the basement reloading shells and cleaning his guns for when there’s an uprising or something. We just let him rant and hide. Most of the men actually try to hide with him during the holidays. The women run around chasing babies and setting up the food buffet. These events are a ball of amazing and awful all rolled into one.

What’s to Love:

  • Food. Without a doubt, the food for big gatherings and holidays is the best part. Everyone brings something, and there are so many options.
  • Dress up time. My mom gear is usually functional with a touch of style, but for big family events, we go all out. I will say there is a slight competitive nature between some of the women. It’s unhealthy but fun. Plus, we all get to make our children look even cuter than normal.
  • Spreading the love. I love seeing my family, even if it’s only once or twice a year for some of them. It’s nice to catch up and get pictures together. Not seeing each other often means less drama, which is a win win!
  • Tired babies. Family gatherings and holidays always ends with my kiddos passing out. They run around like feral children, so when we get home, me and the husband get date night while they snooze.
  • Bragging rights. This has been an amazing year for me and my husband. We are looking forward to bragging this holiday. My grandparents play favorites, and it’s not a secret. So, when one of the other grandkids who isn’t a favorite does well, there’s bragging and the others build them up. It’s our turn this year. I know it’s superficial, but I’ll hit on that in the what’s to hate section.

What’s to Hate

  • Preparations. We all bring food, and usually my mother or grandmother assigns each married couple or family with a dish or two. My husband and I have our biggest fight every year over this. We always wait until last minute. Something always goes wrong. Last year, I dropped a tray of deviled eggs and had an hour to make 2 more dozen. I’m blind. That sucked.
  • Drama, drama, drama. I could probably just put all the negative under the drama category, but then my lists would be uneven, and we can’t have that. Drama in our family means at least 2 people will have a confrontation with minor yelling. My grandma laughs uncomfortably in the corner before it gets bad, so that is our warning. It’s usually over someone undermining my grandma’s favorite grandson. He’s pretentious. It always happens.
  • Different parenting styles clash. In our family, we have that one cousin that has no issues cracking their kid across the butt and going overboard, while we stand there trying to control our facial expressions and judgement.
  • Insult compliments. The women in my family are pros at giving you a compliment, but as the conversation deepens, your self esteem is lower than when you walked in the door. Example: “Jenni, it’s so wonderful you got your Bachelor’s degree. It was in writing or English right? Are you going to teach or get a job or just stay at home? Have you figured it out?” Then, they walk away. Later, they will tell me that being a mom is noble with a slight amount of disgust and condescension in their voice.
  • Other people’s kids. I love everyone in my family. I love all the kids running around. I don’t love seeing a bigger kid, related or not, teasing my kids. I have no issue dragging kids to their parents, and if they won’t handle it, I will. I hate this more than anything at family gatherings. I’ve had to teach my kids to defend themselves and my son isn’t even 4 yet. Children can be cruel.

Even though we have our moments of disdain and sarcasm, there’s a lot of love that goes into these family events. Whether people have love at the end is out of my control. It sounds fairly toxic and negative, but I promise, we’ve all been in therapy and care about each other.

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