A guide to family problems

Nate Smith

If you’re even nearly as introverted as me, Easter Sunday was challenging to say the least. While it may be hard to face total strangers, sitting down at a dinner table surrounded by people who know some of your darkest secrets can be torture. If you struggled through this family function, you may be feeling like Fourth of July is just around the corner, so I’m going to share some of my personal tips to getting through it you next family gathering:

One, go with the flow.

If your family is reserved, keep to yourself. If your family is loud, get loud with them. It’s important more than ever to blend in; subterfuge is key. If you notice somebody has vocalized an opinion that you don’t agree with: KEEP IT TO YOURSELF! Nothing beckons the onslaught of family ridicule than going against the grain. No matter how ridiculous the statement was, don’t make things hard for yourself. With strangers you can get away with vocalizing descent because they don’t know you. If you’re doing this with people that you’ve known you your whole life you’re just asking for embarrassing things from the past to be brought up for their defense. Just don’t even do it.

Two, come bearing gifts.

Nothing can put you on your family’s good side faster than arriving with gifts. It’s really hard for people to ridicule when they’re holding something you purchased in their hands. The trick with this is knowing (a) what EVERYBODY collectively likes, (b) what fits the holiday, and © what gifts are guaranteed to shut people up .

While this may seem difficult (and expensive) at first, it should be noted that the aim is thoughtfulness over flashiness. Most families have at least one activity or favorite memory in common. Whether it be football, or everybody’s favorite summer trip to Disney world, you have enough ammo to at least have the beginnings of gift selection. Remembering someone’s birthday that’s close can also be a lifesaver when choosing a gift.
Giving somebody a board game that everybody can play? Genius. Just be sure to cover all bases so you don’t alienate anybody. That too can lead to trouble.

Three, keep things light.

Going back to “going with the flow”, if your family has a penitent for bickering you may end up playing referee. The easiest way to do this without drawing ire is to know how to change the subject quickly. This is a subtle art that may require you to momentarily step outside of your social safety box. Don’t worry; if you do it right you’ll be able to return to your bubble. If you do it wrong? Worst-case scenario you’ll be able to silently fade into the background as the arguments continue. Once again, they key to this is knowing your family. Try to go for maximum sentimental value is always the best way to go about this. You may just end up being the hero of the holiday and bring your family closer.

Four, if all else fails: confusion.

So you tried the first three steps to no avail. Now what? Time to throw up a smoke veil of confusion.
Because you’re obviously the coolest person in your family, there has to be something you’re interested in that will go over the heads of the rest of your family. If you feel like your in depth knowledge of animals is enough to shut your family up? It’s worth a shot! Any knowledge is good knowledge in this case. Go crazy! By confusing the whole family you might have just found your ticket to going home unscathed. Good luck! You’re going to need it.
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