Make my parents' Christmas.
December 19, 2013 9:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm a 40 year old man, recently single and spending Christmas with my parents for the first time in two decades. They're excited, help us have a good one.

After a helluva year, the UK recession/depression saw me made redundant, have my apartment repossessed, lose my long term GF and generally relocate from my successful urban life to a very slimmed down rural one back in my home village. As a result my aging parents have invited my lonesome self and my newly acquired puppy dog to their's for Christmas Day. They seem excited to have the prodigal son around for the festivities, it's been a long time since I was around on the 25th. I'm in a good place despite all the drama of 2013 and want to make sure they have a good time while I'm around, I might not get many more Christmas seasons with them like this. So...I arrive on Christmas Eve, I'll have a bag of presents, a bottle of bubbly and a puppy dressed in a collar with jingle bells on. What else can I do or bring to the proceedings to help things go well. They are refusing any contributions to foodstuffs as my mom will be cooking up a storm so I'm kinda at a loss. Maybe myself, dog and some booze are enough but any suggestions for more are most welcome!
posted by Caskeum to Human Relations (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What about bringing some sort of puzzle for you all to work on together, or a game of some sort? They would likely enjoy just 'hanging out' with you in the manner.
posted by dotgirl at 9:54 AM on December 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

Honestly, I think you're doing fine as it is. You'll be there, your parents are excited to see you, you've got gifts and some beverages; about the only thing I'd do is be a bit more eager to jump up and help Mom in the kitchen or with chores (even if she says no, you should just sit - gently insist that no, you'll help with dishes anyway).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:54 AM on December 19, 2013 [10 favorites]

I too, was thinking board games. We like Scrabble and Monopoly. Risk if you're into it, or card games (Spades is a big one in my family.)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:55 AM on December 19, 2013

Perhaps board games, movies to watch together—including some of their old favorites?

Go through the family picture albums or, if applicable, organize pictures into albums, making sure that they're labeled.
posted by she's not there at 9:59 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know any host who doesn't truly appreciate a hand with the dishes, even if they protest at first.
posted by bonehead at 9:59 AM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best thing is to forget any past stuff that happened that you feel turned you into the "prodigal son." They might do those things that drive you insane but just mentally toss it outside into the snow. A positive mind is the best thing you can bring.

Also: keep a light buzz going, and work on something distracting like a puzzle or some DVDs of holiday sniffle movies (It's a Wonderful Life, Christmas Carol).
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:03 AM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Def. bring a boardgame to play while drinking some liquor drinks. I actually suggest you get a NEW board game that none of you have played before (Carcassonne? Catan? Ticket to Ride? Pandemic?).

Have a Happy Christmas Caskeum!
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:08 AM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think aside from what you bring, it's also important to make sure you are in the right mind-space to enjoy yourself, and thus help them enjoy you. It's really easy to slip into old patterns, to go back to your teenage attitude, to get annoyed by their habits. Trying to keep yourself from getting snippy, or impatient, or withdrawn, will certainly help lubricate things (and as St Peepsburg suggests, a light buzz could facilitate that!).
posted by Pomo at 10:12 AM on December 19, 2013

Is there anything they particularly like to do with you or for you that you could let them do? For example, my mom REALLY likes buying me clothes for whatever reason, so I always make sure to "need" something because it just makes her day if she can spend half the day wandering around crowded stores looking for it. Likewise, she really likes going to the grocery store with us and doing our shopping so we make sure to need food and go shopping with her when she's here.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:22 AM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

A tripod. And get some photos of you guys together. Maybe even recreate some older ones.
posted by DigDoug at 10:34 AM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

Looking through our old family photos is a favorite bonding activity when I'm visiting my mom. Obviously this depends on you guys having stacks of family photos (home movies are also fun!), but if you do your parents might enjoy going through them with you ... heck, if you're super ambitious and the need is there, you could even help them organize the pictures and stick them in albums.

On a wholly different note, this one is probably obvious but do keep a close eye on your dog while you're there, especially if he/she is a puppy - the visit will be more enjoyable for everyone if you can make sure your pup stays entertained and doesn't cause any messes or damage (the first time we took our current dog to my family's for the holidays, she dropped a deuce right behind the table while we were eating dinner ... kind of awkward).
posted by DingoMutt at 10:36 AM on December 19, 2013

Arrive hungry, and plan for a midday walk to additionally improve your appetite.

You can also plan sweet, sincere things to say to them. Detailed memories of your childhood might be nice.

Plan some family photos, too. Bring/get a tripod and know how your camera's shutter delay works, so that you can get a shot of all of you together.
posted by amtho at 10:42 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you've had a rough year they may want to commiserate and comfort you. Let them.
posted by Wylie Kyoto at 10:47 AM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Looking through old family photos... I think that depends on your family. It might just as well accidentally open some old wounds. I'm not saying you should avoid difficult conversations or that you shouldn't attempt to clear the air in the event that there is air to be cleared - but maybe since you're feeling a bit battered this year, this isn't the occasion to do it.

Instead, since you've been gone a while, take the opportunity to get to know your parents as adults. Ask them about their friends, their hobbies. Think of something one or the other of your parents is good at, and get them to show you how to do it (for instance, I once spent an afternoon learning how to make my favorite pie recipe from my grandma, one of the few such one-on-one times we ever had).

Or challenge them to do something different - do a yoga dvd with them, or some such.

Or try some different kinds of games, so that you might gain a new perspective on the way they think - Cards Against Humanity, or What the F*ck. Might seem totally absurd, or it might turn out to be your most favorite Christmas in a while.
posted by vignettist at 11:55 AM on December 19, 2013

Bring a collection of great Christmas music (yes, it exists) to play, or rent some classic movies. Do they like cocktails? You could whip up some simple syrup (add ginger or other spices) and bring the fixings for some fancy drinks. You could volunteer to clean, de-clutter or organize rooms in the house or the attic or garage.

Also, let them do things for you if they are the type of parents that thrive on that sort of thing. If they're anything like my mother, being able to do something for you will give them way more joy than anything you could give or do for them.

I'm sorry for your difficult year, though the way you've described your upcoming holiday sounds lovely. Enjoy being together!
posted by janerica at 3:47 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

What about a co-operative board game like Forbidden Island or Pandemic? I introduced my Mum to them last Christmas and she had a wonderful time! They both have similar mechanisms but Forbidden Island is a little easier to grasp.
posted by eloeth-starr at 8:18 PM on December 19, 2013

Board game ordered, will weigh in heavily on the dish washing and generally appreciate all the fussin' that is bound to come my way. Thanks all and merry Christmas to you and yours when it comes!
posted by Caskeum at 9:49 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

« Older A last minute Christmas by myself?   |   I need health insurance and MassHealthConnector is... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.