Just pretend like it’s another holiday.
For many, you may only see your extended family on holidays. For others, maybe extended family is just a myth you’ve been told, but have never actually seen. Maybe you think of your family as the ancestral ghosts from Mulan, but this year, you will come face to face with them.
What do you do?
And drink a lot. But not too much. Just enough to loose enough and not feel weird.
Prepare a Speech
You’re going to be asked a million questions. Who are you? What do you do? Are you married? What’s new? Do you like your job? Do you have any kids? Over and over and over again. Know your answers. Don’t get butthurt.
If you’re a guy, wear a shirt. If you’re a girl, cover all of your lady parts thoroughly. This will deter the drunk husbands and it will deter conversations about your sexual encounters. In other words, it keeps all of the awkward stuff at bay.
Have a Buddy
This could be your mom, your cousin, brother, uncle, or father. Have one person there to keep you in check. Have a safe word. One of you says ‘pineapple,’ you find a reason to exit the conversation. Refill your beer, and try again.
Don’t Seclude Yourself
You will immediately be labeled as the outcast. If you didn’t want to mingle, why did you should up in the first place?
Someone will be annoying or condescending. In fact, most of them will be. Bite your tongue and smile. Smiling is important.
Say Hello to the Patriarch
Even if you’re a feminist and have a hidden agenda, the oldest male in your family has been around for a long while. He doesn’t know anything about gender roles or feminism. He knows respect. Say hello to him. Give him your speech and be done with it.
Have a Go-To Conversation
When there’s an awkward silence–make sure you have something to fill the void before it gets to weird. Something that interests you.
Be Mindful of the Children
Pretend like these kids are the holy grail. They get to eat first, they can say inappropriate things and run free without consequence. You have to respect that. The children are important.
Don’t care about what other people think. Go around and mingle. Talk to everyone. Drink some beer. Play some games. Enjoy yourself! Family will surprise you.