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Help me enjoy Boxing Day with my in-laws (more) this year.
December 25, 2010 6:03 PM   Subscribe

Help me enjoy Boxing Day with my in-laws (more) this year.

Not sure what my problem is as my husband and I have been together 15 years... perhaps familiarity breeds contempt? I have never had anything in common with his family but over the years have come to accept them as being his family. Maybe there have been one too many family occasions together (ie. weddings) this year, but I'm not looking forward to tomorrow.

To describe things generally, they're very Walmart, into gadgets and OTT consumerism while I'm more "Whole Foods" (although there isn't actually a Whole Foods where I live, I buy direct from farmers, but you get my drift). I think I've just lost patience with the whole acting like I'm interested in consumerist, suburban chit chat, which has grown exponentially now that his nieces and nephews have grown up and paired off.

I feel like a shitheel... we spend a lot of time with my sometimes dysfunctional family and he is close to all of them. So how can I be closer and enjoy myself with his family... after all this time I feel like I've truly run out of things to talk about with them.
posted by braemar to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Just drink wine and make small talk about the weather and your favorite comedies. Steer the conversation into neutral territory and everyone will be just fine. Because in another universe, your husband's family is on "AskFilterMeta" wondering why the "Whole Foods wife" can't seem to let her hair down for 24 hours out of the year.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:10 PM on December 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here you go -- neutral small talk: "Hey, do you guys know no one really knows why it's called Boxing Day? Yeah, weird, isn't it? There are a few main theories..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:13 PM on December 25, 2010


Because in another universe, your husband's family is on "AskFilterMeta" wondering why the "Whole Foods wife" can't seem to let her hair down for 24 hours out of the year.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Husband and I are enjoying a great big belly laugh, just what is needed at this time of year!!!
posted by braemar at 6:31 PM on December 25, 2010


Do what I do, expose them to things I like that they'll dislike in an entertaining way. Have fun with your differences.

My mother-in-law loves all things traditional. So I play girl talk and show her lady GaGa videos and it's super funny. Otherwise we get a week of the world's most Victorian Christmas.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:41 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Drink!
posted by Jacqueline at 7:09 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whenever I have to spend time with people I do not care for (which happens most every holiday) I ask them questions about their lives and interests. They just blather on and on. I make a game of this (to myself). The game is....will they ask anything about me?? I give myself 100 points if they don't ..haha ... and before you know it Yep! sure enough! they didn't ask anything about me AGAIN. I win! Yeah, it's a cynical game..but very accurate. It's only one day out of the year. Ask them questions about them--keep track of what they ask you (likely zip) and the whooollle day will take care of itself.
posted by naplesyellow at 7:34 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I agree with naplesyellow that the technique of getting them talking about themselves will work, and I can assure you that everyone will LOVE you for it, but I have a hard time feigning interest for that long. I've done it, but I find it exhausting.

What I've done in these situations that worked for me was to avoid focusing on what you disagree on and going deeper to find what you have in common. I usually get them talking about their kids because that often brings out the best in people. You'll see them just burst with pride when they talk about the kid that won the trophy or whatever and you connect on a basic human level. Look harder to find things in common and you usually can; I'm a childless lefty liberal atheist, but I can usually have a nice conversation with a Mormon housewife with 6 kids, because she and I both cook and we can talk about that. Just because these people are consumers, that doesn't mean that's ALL they are.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 11:01 PM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


If your husband feels the same way as you, you can have fun by drawing up a "bingo" list before you go of things the relatives will say and do. Then every time one happens, you and your husband can make eye-contact and smirk. Or drink, or something. The point is to make a game of the craziness.

But yeah, also try and find topics you can all enjoy talking about. There will be some: you just might have to spend a while searching for them.
posted by lollusc at 1:52 AM on December 26, 2010


Why not break out the boardgames? Actually DOING something together takes the edge off.
posted by aquafortis at 2:09 AM on December 26, 2010


Have you tried doing outdoor activities with them? Walking, snowshoeing, whatever your climate allows.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:28 AM on December 26, 2010


I ask them questions about their lives and interests [...] The game is....will they ask anything about me??

OK so it's not just me huh? That's my usual schtick, ask all about them and look fascinated to hear all about 52' plasma TVs and health issues of the week. But what about the f**ing book I'm working on or my trip to the Middle East... doesn't anyone want to know how my business is doing? I think that's what has started to rile me after all this time, my in-laws only seem interested in when and if I'm going to reproduce (because hey my time has pretty much run out), my latest big box purchase or my take on the latest reality TV show.

OK, thank you very much for all the responses, time to suck it up and put on my game face... and for the record, NO!, there is sadly never any alcohol to be found at the Boxing Day in-law get together!!! ;o)
posted by braemar at 8:12 AM on December 26, 2010


That's my usual schtick, ask all about them and look fascinated to hear all about 52' plasma TVs and health issues of the week. But what about the f**ing book I'm working on or my trip to the Middle East... doesn't anyone want to know how my business is doing? I think that's what has started to rile me after all this time, my in-laws only seem interested in when and if I'm going to reproduce (because hey my time has pretty much run out), my latest big box purchase or my take on the latest reality TV show.

I'm late to the party, but my tactics are this:
- Ask questions about what my husband was like as a child.
- Play board games
- Bring food that needs some prep, and spend a lot of time working in the kitchen
- Read a copy of People magazine during the week before we go so I can have something to talk about (I try to aim for the human interest stories).
- Challenge their assumptions. Really. If you get them to talk about how Christmas was for them as a child, sometimes its possible to subtly make the point that those Christmases were happier despite not having all the consumer crap.
- Find common ground. Does your MIL knit or do a craft she could teach you?
posted by anastasiav at 10:29 AM on December 26, 2010


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