Friday, December 23, 2011

How To Survive a (Batangas) Family Reunion

I sense many people I know have Christmas blues. It's almost similar to birthday blues and PMS weepy days only there is (for Filipinos) the added pressure of family reunions.

I read this article in Yahoo about how to survive family reunions and it made me shiver in the realization that a) I am newly single, b) I am newly resigned and c) I am still 20 kgs overweight. I am a mark. An easy one at that.

This weekend is not going to be fun. People are going to tell me to loose weight. They would berate me to give their children gifts or when I will have children. Or will ask why yet again there is a black box that needs to be checked as to why my relationship crashed and burned.

So in leu of my love for lists (seriously if you are a regular reader you would know this about me) here is my Family Reunion Survival list (Christmas Edition)

1. Never be too defensive.

The more you deny something or get enraged about something the more people would rib you about it. So just make sure you do not snap at anyone.

It's best to avoid wine when stressed. In Vino Veritas. You don't want to lash out or tell your relatives how blue your 2011 has been. You have to remember that you have to see these people in the next family event. Misery might like company but remember that your family are elephants. They never forget.

2. Diversion Cousin

There is always someone with a worse life story than you. There has to be. Ask the person you are talking to about said person and surely they would love to give you the tidbits.

3. Do not fall for trap questions.

"He seems like a nice guy, doesn't he?" is something I hear people say about someone's new bf (who just got introduced to the family). Be careful of the follow-up curve ball to the gut, "How about you, when are you going to introduce your boyfriend to us para makaliskisan?" (later part means so they can check him out)

I admit to trying to be as non-defensive as I can. But sometimes I just snap at them.


Older relative: Where is your boyfriend?
Me: (on a good day) I don't have one (po).
Older relative: (pulls me towards group of men drinking half of whom I do not know) This is my Pinay, she's from UP.

*feels like I am being bartered* *makes joke about liking women after older relative leaves* *some pervert would still like that and I would give him stink eye*

Me: (after being asked that more than five times often by the same person) I killed him already.
Older relative: *silent for like a milisecond* That's too bad.
(repeat end part of the previous situation)

4. Beware of the "matchmaker" relative

There is always one and you can't be ashamed to have one. They think they know you even though they barely see you and they know someone who is just perfect for you.

I am 26. I have been "introduced" to so many family friends that are either not my type, looks like a pervert or is just wrong for me just because I never introduce my bfs to the family. I am very traditional, introductions to my family is a big deal. No man has passed that barrier so far.

When single I do these: (check if you have done it)

___Pretended to like women. *not my proudest moment, sorry lesbian and gay friends*
___Said I am seeing someone in the big city
___Talk about my disgusting habits and lack of wifely abilities
___Talk about how I like men who have bigger dicks (men with small friends would do the "it's the motion of the ocean" excuse)
___Make rude jokes
___Pretend I hate sports and all sweat related activities (so not true I love sports and hunky sweaty men)
___Tell them that I dated a gay guy and that everything I learned about sex I learned from a gay guy so I would never date a homophobe *this usually backfires since I have a tendency to talk dirty without using dirty words - usually a good flirting tool* 
___Tell them that I want someone who is like my dad (responsible, NEVER cheats or lies to my mother, hardworking, funny, a great cook, very romantic, a great father - translation Go Electra Complex on them wannabees) My dad is pretty well-known as a great guy in our community and a wonderful husband and father so men who are lazy or the anti-thesis of men like my dad tend to be wary of daddy's girls like moi.

5. Be the family photographer

I love the fact that I am the family photographer. Why? I have a decent diversion move to make people stop interrogating me.

I either call out "Picture!" and people come rushing to pose or I would say "Less talk more posing!"

Filipinos are camwhores, use that to your advantage.

6. Wear flattering clothes.

It doesn't matter if you gained weight this year, never let them see you in your jammies, these people you love and loathe. ^.^

Fashion is always a good topic to use to divert the older ladies attention.

7. Pick on somebody your own size

It's better to hang out with members of your family who are of the same age bracket. If they are the ones who cause you teeth gritting beause they lives are just oh-so-perfect and you can't handle their blabbering, do the exact opposite.

Do not compare your lives to them. Yours might not be as documented, good on paper or straight cut as theirs, but it's your life, right? Surely it's yours to live. If you want to, you can get inspired with their success or lovelives. This is the best time to ask cousins you like to hook you up with their friend or husband/bf's cool friend. Who knows, right?

8. Eat light and don't linger, mingle!

If you are going to a family Christmas party like I am, make sure not to eat like there is no tomorrow. You have to remember that there is New Year's Eve as well. If you are going to eat a lot at the actual eating time, make sure not to eat too much throughout the day.

The thing with the holiday munchies, people never stop eating or putting things in front of you. I know it's the holidays but this is not your last meal. So do not put a mountain of food on your plate.

It's a also a good idea to not just sit in one table *see #5 for a reason to move around* and make sure to catch-up with everyone, even the cousin you have hated since she took your favorite scrunchy in elementary school or the weird family friend who insists that you call him uncle *see Bridget Jones' Diary for reference*

In the Philippines, especially in my hometown, Christmas is family time. So spend time with yours.

9. Get sound advice.

This is a tricky way to make people talk about themselves or divert them from grilling you about your lack of work/lovelife/children/whateverthingthatpersonthinksisnecessaryforhappiness.

It's a way to shut up those troll relatives who can only see the bad sides of your life and doesn't know how to celebrate your achievements, like the fact that you got yourself out of a relationship that was making you an emotional eater.

People who mean well or have gone through the same problem are more capable of giving you sound advice. Be careful not to snarl when they say "Tingnan mo ang pinsan mo..." (Look at your cousin...). Do not tune them out. Make mental notes. Do not take the criticism too personally. There might be some nuggets of wisdom here and there. Sure there are thinly veiled insults too. But if what they are saying is true, can you really argue with them?

Take the snide remarks and pokes so you can get the constructive criticism too.

"I'll think about it."; "That sounds like a good idea, I'll see if I can use that to (get what you want)." ; "Thanks for the advice. If I need anymore, I know who to talk to." are good sentences and comments that can help your relative (usually an elder one) feel like you appreciate their concern. And most of them are really genuinely so.

10. Easy on the (Eggnog) Tagay.

People drink a bit more than they should when there is a party. And most of them want to be drunk because they can't handle their family when they are sober.

Just make sure you do not drink to the point of no return. For someone like me who has no filtering system, I would rather grit my teeth and stay sober. At least when I am done, I can blog about what happened. Blacking out and freaking out at a family event, any party or the streets of your hometown is not in tune with the Christmas spirit.

If you have other tips to share, be sure to write them at the comment box. ^.^

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