Holiday family faux pas

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Awkward conversations — we all have them. Whether it be with group members of a project you’d all rather not do, or parents asking about your grades this term, nobody enjoys these on-the-spot encounters, and we all do our best to avoid them when we can.

Unfortunately, tis’ the season, and with the upcoming holidays, awkward family conversations are more common than gingerbread men. Be it with your aunt mistakenly remembering you as an English major when you’re actually an Engineer, or your stubborn grandfather sharing his political world views with anyone who will listen, these conversations are bound to happen to you at almost any family gathering.

With so many people of varying ages, occupations, and experiences gathered in one spot, it’s no surprise this type of thing is something that we’ve all come to dread from the season.

So, how should one navigate this familial minefield? The first step, dear reader, is to take a seat yourself and listen to your relatives. Don’t go into a gathering with staunch views and heavy-handed opinions, and don’t feel the need to express them to your relatives in a passionate manner.

Even if your grandfather has some questionable opinions, it’d probably be best you kept yours to yourself so as to not start a heated conversation.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t respond, however. I believe that at least half of our awkward conversations are due in part from one party being very engaged and the other lacking even a shred of interest. Instead, truly listen to what your aunt has to say. If she mistakes you for an English major, correct her politely, and speak to her about your interests in engineering. Of course, If she’d rather talk about her interests in cats, humour the conversation and discuss her interests instead. Even if you have very little knowledge of a subject, most people are delighted when someone takes an interest their interests.

Finally, be honest. This is your family, and more often than not you don’t have to put up a successful front of yourself as much as you think. Whether it be work stress or relationship problems, everyone has encountered  something similar in their life no matter the age, and talking about some of your problems or worries will put you on a more relatable, and personal, level for everyone.

Julien Shine

2A English & Literature

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