November 17, 2009
It's the Holiday season and your significant other feels this is the perfect time for you to meet their family—their entire family—for the first time. Cue Psycho theme song.
Immediately freezing like a cold cat getting hosed down in the dead of winter, every startling story your boyfriend told you about his family comes rushing back.
Cringing as you remember the story about his Aunt losing her teeth one Thanksgiving in her food and neglecting to tell anyone until the trash was taken out and dishes were done. She was nowhere to be found after police arrived from her 911 call reporting a stolen heirloom.
You remember how he revealed his Mom got so drunk last year, she slipped her affair with his Dad's best friend at the dinner table, followed the statement with “forgive me father for I have sinned,” a cackling laugh and then asked for the cranberries.
You also recollect his mentioning of his families distaste for every girl he has dated in the past.
What to do? Well, freak out for starters. Just let it out now because there is no use in pretending it's fine. Guaranteed the drive there you will have a panic attack and possibly pass out so kick, scream and slap yourself as you like.
Next, remember it's not you they despise--yet--just the past women in your man’s life giving you time to put yourself on a pedestal.
Find out what religion they are as well as any traditions they might have first. Nothing is worse than being Jewish and expecting a kosher meal from a fellow Jewish family only to find they aren't practicing nor were they ever. At least you will be well prepared for non accustomed prayers in different languages, interpretive dances from hippie relatives or the yearly toast made by the always inebriated Uncle Chuck .
Dress accordingly. If your girlfriend uses big words, chances are so does her family. They probably also dawn fancy attire while drinking exquisite wine that no one can pronounce besides the butler. So be prepared to sit straight and have bread crumbs wiped off your lap after oirderves.
Find out what he has told them about you so there are no surprises. If they are asking you to tell them about yourself, mentioning a past marriage and two arrests that they don't know about may make for an awkward dessert.
Don’t be afraid to be left alone. There will be times he or she has to catch up with their parents, relatives or help with dishes. If you vanish to the bathroom--a 20 minute phone call to your best friend--or pretend you have turkey coma, they will immediately think you have something against their family. Play with kids if there are some and talk to relatives; even if it’s about argyle socks, just do it.
Finally, bring a gift. It shows you took the time to put something together and want to meet them. Make a dish that your family likes for them to try or ask if there is anything you can contribute. Nothing is pleseant about boxed wine (unless you're my family ),so unless you don't want an invite to watch the Rose Parade on New Years Day, stick to family recipes or something that isn't buy one get two free. If you really need help on gifts, Oprah always has many favorite things she is willing to share this time of year.
Photo by: Jim Bob Blann