Not all who wander are lost, but I probably am, and other things I learned while studying abroad

 

 

IMG_2231My stay in Italy and Switzerland was one of the best, eye-opening, culture-enriching, confusing, and fun months of my entire life. Not only did I never get severely lost or separated from my group (huge personal victory), I was able to soak up a lot of Italian culture even though I was only there for one month. I encountered several cross-cultural experiences while abroad that changed my worldview and broadened my perspective. I came back from studying abroad with a deeper respect for cultures other than my own, as well as an appreciation for the juxtapositions Italian culture presents. The three experiences having the largest influence included my observations of graffiti, the piazza we saw in Perugia, and an encounter I had with an Italian family in Positano.

One cross-cultural encounter I had was only through observation of the scenery. The juxtaposition of the vast amount of graffiti compared to the famous works of art from centuries past in Italy stood out to me. Graffiti has always bothered me, or at least piqued my interest in a less-than-flattering way. I will admit that I usually view graffiti through the lens of the American stereotype: as an illegal work of art because it vandalizes a building. I also do not find graffiti aesthetically pleasing, nor do I see its cultural value. I am not trying to imply that it has no cultural value, just the fact that it is present says a lot about the Italian culture.  I usually stereotype it to mean something “thug” related, when really who is to say it is? Unless I knew the graffiti artist personally, how would I really know the meaning behind his/her piece? What if someone misjudged Michelangelo’s masterpiece David and thought he was scandalous for creating a sculpture of a naked man? I wonder if the prominent graffiti artists in today’s Italy had lived during Michelangelo’s day and age if they would have been regarded as geniuses in their art form. I saw graffiti in every area of Italy I visited, especially around the train stations. Since I do not live in a big city, I am not at all used to seeing graffiti on a daily basis, and definitely not in such public areas, besides maybe once in a while under a bridge. I have an appreciation for the juxtaposition of various art forms in Italy, whether they be spraypainted on a wall or hanging in a museum.

The piazza we saw in Perugia set up quite the contradiction for me. There was construction taking place on the surface, but down below the piazza was a city frozen in time, left behind when someone built new infrastructure on top.  Although the piazza has been around for centuries in Italy, some of them are constantly being upgraded to fit the needs of the changing society. A large controversy surrounding the ancient buried city was whether or not to let the metro run through it. This set up the conflict of whether preserving Perugia’s past, the underground city, or the functionality of the future, the metro running through the center of town, was more important. The city did end up allowing the metro to run through the city frozen in time, which may mean they are more focused on progressing towards the future than preserving the past.  When we went underground to visit the ancient city, I witnessed two young men sitting on a step and playing a video game. I found this extremely ironic because where else could someone see two time periods clash in such a major way? An icon of the twenty-first century, the video game, being played in an un-tampered ancient city. This contradiction completely represents today’s Italy. Progress in society juxtaposed against the rich history and culture of the region.

The passeajate in Italy is similar to the tailgate of a college football game in the south—people go to see other people and to be seen. The image one portrays in a piazza is just as important as going at all. Italians do not participate in the passeajate to complete a set task or purpose; they are not walking to get somewhere, they are walking to socialize. Contrary to what I would have expected, kids are a large part of this activity. Parents pushing strollers or chasing after toddlers is a common site to see. The Italian passeajate is truly an activity for the entire family. This makes sense because of how large a part family life plays into the Italian culture. The passeajate is a time for parents to show off their children as well as give the children a chance to play together. If something like this occurred in America, I wonder if parents would feel more in-tune with their children’s social lives and help them keep up with their children’s friends. You can tell a lot about a kid from looking their friends. Families in Italy seem to be more involved in their children’s social lives as well as their marriages than do families in America, and this could be in part due to the passeajate culture.

I witnessed the “family” culture of Italian dating first-hand in a piazza in Positano during the first half of our second travel break to the Amalfi Coast. I had been wanting to find a cliff to (safely) jump off the entire break, so I decided to go up to two young men (probably young twenties) and ask them if they knew where the cliff was located. I chose these particular two young men because young Italians are more likely to speak English, and young people are more likely to be interested in jumping off cliffs. As I approached these young men, I prepared what I was planning to ask. First, I was going to say something along the lines of “Do you speak English?” and go on from there inquiring about the cliff. However, before I could get out my first question, a middle-aged woman came running out of nowhere and grabbed what I assume would be her son by the shoulders and started leading him away from me. As she was doing this, she was saying something in Italian and shaking her head; the only word I could definitely make out was “mama.” Yes, you read that correctly. An Italian boy’s mother rejected me. As humorous as this situation was, I believe it truly reveals something about the Italian culture, especially in a social area like a piazza. The Italian culture is rooted in family values, and parents are extremely concerned with their children’s love lives (at least from what I observed). After this experience, I finally understood the whole “going home to mama’s” culture on the weekends.

This free-range stroll seemed foreign to me as an American. I love to go to NC State tailgates and socialize, but I go primarily to attend the main event after the tailgate, the game. The Italian’s passeajate has no scheduled activity or game to watch; the only rule is to socialize. This ties in majorly with the mindset of an Italian because unlike an American, an Italian does not always have to be going somewhere or doing something to be content, they can leave their house not knowing what they will be doing or who they will be seeing—and they do it regularly. This brings me to my biggest takeaway from my study abroad experience in Italy—sometimes the best memories are made when you do not have a plan.

 

 

The problem with The Bachelor

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Like almost every other twenty-something woman in America, most Mondays at 8:00 PM you can find me eating junk food with my girlfriends watching The Bachelor. I had never watched this show until coming to college, and while I do love to make fun of the concept and the melo-dramatic women who star in it, I cannot deny that there is such an entertaining, can’t-take-your-eyes-off-the-screen appeal to this reality show. I am a big fan of reality TV; I have seen every season of Survivor since I was 12, and So You Think You Can Dance is always recorded on my DVR, but The Bachelor is different. When a player gets voted off the island on Survivor, or a dancer gets sent home by the judges on SYTYCD, it is (usually) not a personal attack against the person. In fact, I would argue that more often than not the better players, seen as threats, are sent home earlier in Survivor, and lots of times dancers who are clearly great and valuable people are sent home because SYTYCD is based on dancing ability alone. But with The Bachelor, we’re not talking about winning $1,000,000 or a talent show; we’re talking about pure romantic rejection. You see, romantic love is not something you can study for, practice, or become the “best” at; it is a phenomenon that must be reciprocated by both parties—it simply cannot be forced. Sure, some girls may be better at flirting, have better figures, or wear the perfect clothes, but when it comes down to it, love is not something that can be “achieved.”

I don’t know about y’all, but sometimes my self-confidence plummets when I think to myself how every single young lady on The Bachelor is not only model-gorgeous, but a lot of them also have successful careers. Some girls even had to leave their careers or quit their “dream” jobs to become a contestant. If a drop-dead gorgeous girl with a great career has to go on a game show to find a man, well where does that leave the rest of us? When those malicious whispers of self-doubt creep into my mind, I’ll admit that it can be difficult to see myself as the beautiful daughter of the King that I am. The Song of Solomon, while usually regarded as the romantic and even sexual book of the bible, also paints a delicate picture of God’s immense love for His people. Song of Solomon 4:7 says, “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”4-7Ladies, we all want someone calling us “darling” and telling us we are flawless, am I right? But, come on, Jesus….You don’t see any flaws in me? Because I could easily point out about 25 from the top of my head. But this is what is so amazing about God’s love—we absolutely do not deserve it, yet He gives it so freely. God created you, every inch, even that hair that will never stay in place and the stretch marks you try so hard to hide. And if the creator of the universe knit me together in my mother’s womb, who am I to say that I am not good enough?

While watching The Bachelor with my best gal pals, I love to joke about how if I was on the show, I would be the one girl who would refuse to go on dates with the bachelor (even though he is quite good looking). Why, you ask? I desire for whoever I date and one day marry to be completely infatuated with me—not dating (and kissing) 20-some other women simultaneously. Call me crazy, but I’m still holding out for that once-in-a-lifetime, takes-my-breath-away kind of love. Jesus, just like He should be our role model in everything we do, is also our guide on how to love others. Ephesians 5:25 and 28 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” This is the love I want. Any man who gives his best attempt to love me like Jesus loved the church—that is the kind of man I want knocking on my door. I believe the women of my generation need to realize that love is not a game, although it does make for an entertaining television show.

Friends, instead of obsessing over if and when we will receive a “rose,” let’s remember that we already have one—a perfect, merciful, thorn-bearing rose. We have Jesus.

 

 

Learning to go with the flow

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Never in my life have I been described as a “go with the flow” kind of girl. I like to plan out my path ahead of time so that no step is a mistake. I love to make to-do lists (although I don’t always get around to checking every item off). I have been packing bags since I was in diapers, and I pride myself in always being prepared for about any situation that may come my way.

So naturally, this past summer when I studied abroad in Italy, I had to learn that not every day goes as planned, and not every trip has to have an itinerary. Sometimes the best memories are ones you never imagined yourself experiencing. On our first travel break from our beloved little home of Sansepolcro, where the Meredith in Italy program is located, my group travelled to the quaint fishing villages of Cinque Terre.

Throughout our first travel break in Cinque Terre, my group’s motto was “Go with the flow!” We wanted to make sure that no matter what happened, we would still have a great time. As soon as we arrived in Riomaggiore (one of the five villages), we realized that we did not have a clue where our hotel was located. We got some vague directions from the lady at the tourist info desk, and we set off on our trek up and down the hills of the village with our entire luggage in tow. Along the way, we met some nice people from Sweden who also attempted to give us directions, but admitted they had been lost just that morning. They wished us the best of luck and told us to come back there if we could not find our place. After searching for a few more minutes, I have to admit I was slightly frustrated because we had travelled all day to get to this beautiful town, and we were hiking around it carrying 50-pound backpacks. However, it was getting to be the time of sunset, and all four of us stopped searching around and sat there mesmerized by this beautiful creation. This experience was an enlightening one for me because no matter what continent you are on or what country you are in, God’s beauty surrounds you. Suddenly it did not matter how tired we were, how far we had walked, or how heavy our backpacks were; all we could do was stand awestruck in that one spot and stare at the sunset. Beauty in nature is one of the few aspects of a culture that can be truly appreciated and understood by all. Beauty knows no language barrier, no cultural norms, and has no secret passcode you only receive if you are a local. Beauty transcends from culture to culture.

Just as the beauty of the sunset outweighed the frustration of the moment, God promises us that His glory will far surpass any trials in which we find ourselves. Romans 8:18 states “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” I am in no way trying to imply that the frustration of us not being able to find our hotel compares at all to the real physical pain, oppression, and emotional distress so many people experience on an everyday basis, but just as comparing God’s glory to any present suffering puts life in perspective, so did the sunset in our situation. We cannot always control our surroundings, but we can control how we react to less-than-ideal situations. Think about it; whatever it is you may be going through today–heartbreak, stress, grief, depression–it is all temporary. The Creator of the universe who spoke the stars into creation and commands the mountains to move at His will is on your side. We are in such good hands, friends.

I am so glad my first travel break in Italy began in this way. I do not think we would have appreciated the sunset as much if everything had been going smoothly all day. If we had not been frustrated beyond words when the sun was beginning to set, we would not have been able to value its full beauty. I am so thankful for these sweet friends who helped me come out of my shell and encouraged me to “go with the flow.” One must truly know trials to truly know joy. Glory be to God. IMG_9398

Overcoming the Holiday Blues

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I’m going to be really honest: sometimes I dread this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I love to celebrate the birth of my Savior, but it can be difficult to see all the happy little families doing happy little Christmas traditions when your own family is broken. I miss those traditions terribly, so if you are fortunate enough to still experience them, do not take them for granted. This year, I am attempting to be intentional in my efforts to find joy this holiday season. Here are some tips on how to find joy in the Christmas season when you feel like the Grinch.

 

  1. Create new traditions with new people.

Creating a new tradition allows you to have something else to look forward to every year around the holidays, without any old memories or expectations attached. I love dressing up in crazy Christmas sweaters with my friends—the tackier the better. Make up your own tradition or try out a new one, like the ones I found here.

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  1. Give back

I cannot emphasize how much giving back will help you overcome the holiday blues. Recognizing that there are people in this world who would love to have my “bad days” puts things in perspective and makes me realize how blessed I am. One of my favorite ways to give back is by volunteering at the Samaritan’s Purse processing plant for Operation Christmas Child. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, donate canned goods to a food drive, offer your guest room to the international student who can’t make it home for the holidays; it doesn’t matter how you give back as long as you find it meaningful. Focusing on what you can do for your community rather than longing for the “perfect” Christmas will lead to self-fulfillment and joy. When you take the “me” out of the equation and set your heart on helping others, I promise you will find joy.

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  1. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

The Grinch didn’t achieve the enthusiasm of Buddy the Elf overnight. Allow yourself to be sad—but only for a little while. Make up your mind to move on to other, happier thoughts after you allow yourself to grieve. If we never let ourselves experience these sad feelings, they will bottle up overtime and, before you know it, you will blow up over the smallest thing, like opening a Christmas card will have you in tears. When I get the “holiday blues,” I tell myself, “Okay, you have 30 minutes to sit here and be sad, and then you have to get up and move on with things.” As silly as this may sound, it actually works. Giving yourself that time to grieve can be very therapeutic. Go for a run, make your favorite snack, read a good book, or mediate on God’s word. Take care of yourself so you will be ready to face the holidays.

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  1. Focus on the meaning of Christmas

Jesus was born into our broken world to bear our sin and die on the cross so that we may experience salvation and eternal life with Him in Heaven. On that night in Bethlehem, no one was showing off her perfect Christmas card with her perfect family. Jesus had to be born into our broken world because we are sinners in need of a savior. So, if you find yourself stuck in the holiday blues because of your less-than-perfect family situation, your broken relationship, your lack of finances, or any other trial you may be experiencing, just remember that the Lord became man to save us—broken and all.

 

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Why you can—and should—be particular

My maternal grandmother, my Mama Doe, gave me the best dating advice I have ever heard. She simply says to “be particular.” How genius is that? Just be particular—do not settle. Honestly, this applies to about every situation one may come upon in life. Looking for a job? Be particular. Applying to college? Be particular. Buying a car? Be particular. But this especially applies when dealing with the battlefield that is interacting with the opposite sex.

Honey, you are worth more than gold, and if your man treats you as less than that—well you aren’t being particular enough. This is when you put on your big girl panties and say on to the next one. Think about it, if we were as particular about our men as we are the wings on our eyeliner—how high would the standards be for our boyfriends and husbands?

While attention from the opposite sex may seem flattering, it will not be fulfilling unless he is pursuing your heart. Psalm 37:3-4 says, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” When you set your eyes on Jesus everything else will fall into place. But, do you know what makes this news even better? God knows our hearts even better than we do; He knows every tear we have cried and every laugh we have shared. He knows the deepest desires of our hearts and what needs to happen to further His kingdom. He will do what is best for us, even if we can’t see it in the moment. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” God’s timing is absolutely perfect—we just need to remain faithful through every season we find ourselves in, knowing He has something better planned. This can be a tough pill to swallow, especially as a to-do list lover like myself. My God is bigger than any obstacle I face, and He will work everything according to His will—and His timing, not mine.

We need to begin looking at ourselves as worthy to be pursued, rather than “lucky” to receive attention. We Southern women know the only man who will save us (or could save us) is Jesus, but we also know that the quality of the other men in our life will be determined by the standards we set for them and for ourselves. You are beautiful, you are worthy to be pursued, and you are a Daughter of the King—now get out there and start being “particular.” To attract a prince, think of yourself as no less than a princess, honey.

You know you’re from the south when

  1. One of the highlights of the summer was Vacation Bible School week, and you probably had to wear matching Veggie Tales shirts with your brother. (Also notice the rockin’ cornrows I was sporting). VBS was one of the best parts of summer; the water balloon fights, Jesus songs with hand motions, endless sand art crafts, and all the Kool-Aid you can drink.

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2. You wore a costume with fringe (preferably hot pink) and had the sass to match.

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3. Tailgating is an all day event and you startem’ young. In the South, football is slightly below Jesus on the rankings of importance.

 

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4. You have a decked out painted cooler to proudly display at the beach. Lilly prints, monograms, bows, country music lyrics…made to be uniquely you.

 

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5. You get REALLY into the 4th of July. Because I can’t hear you over my freedom and bless your heart and the USA.

 

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6. You are a daddy’s girl through and through. You know you’re from the South when the only man you need in your life is your daddy, and (in my case) the only shagging partner you need.

 

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7. You still have a princess mentality (but are still a strong independent woman). Southern women know the only person who will save them is Jesus, but we also know that the quality of the other men in our life will be determined by the standards we set for them and for ourselves. To attract a prince, think of yourself as no less than a princess honey.

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Meet Mattie and Minter

Mattie and Minter, also known as Ma-Maw and Pa-Paw, are the quintessential Southern grandparents. They have been married for 66 years, fuss more than Tom and Jerry, and are deafer than doornails. Don’t ever go to Ma-Maw’s house (it’s her house and Pa-Paw knows it) saying you are hungry because she will not let you leave until you are stuffed to the gills. This is an interview I did with them a few weeks ago to show you a day in the life of Mattie and Minter. (Side note: We have never figured out why Mattie calls Minter “Munter”).

 

How did you two meet?

 

Minter: “She was the spokesperson for all the girls” “She done the talking”

 

Mattie: (referring to earlier) “Just like I was hollerin right then, carrying on”

 

What do you remember about your wedding day 66 years ago?

 

Minter: “We got married in SC, before a judge, in SC you just sent money and your license and it was a shorter waiting period than in North Carolina.”

 

Mattie: “Mama wanted me to get married at home, but mama would a redone the whole house and I knew daddy wouldn’t want that.”

 

Mattie: “Saturday morning we were waiting, and I remember my daddy saying ‘I wish munter would hurry and come on, I want to go and hoe corn,’ daddy worked through the week in a shop in Lenior, so he had to work at home in the evenings and on Saturdays.”

 

 

 

What world events have affected you the most during your lifetime?

 

Minter on Great Depression: “There were no jobs after high school, one opening for CC Camp. It was a great experience, I volunteered for everything. We went all across the east coast working on projects, ended up in Utah. I took home 16 cents a day, and they sent my family the other part. We didn’t need any money, because they furnished everything, didn’t need any money, from a postage stamp to underwear…nothing. We even had entertainment, free, horse races, motorcicle races.”

 

On FDR: “Come to think about it, he was a great man. As of today, every senior citizen is drawing social security and that was his plan, he did something great for the country. Worked hard to get people back to work. Whether people accept it or not he did something great in history. Blue Ridge parkway was because of him. “

 

What is the successful key to marriage?

 

Mattie: “Just fuss all you want to—(jokingly) nooooo, as you get older you’re not as easy going as you were when you got married—munter’s got awful ill” *Minter looks at her and shakes his head and says “shhhhh”

 

Minter: “Well I just go along and you know, keep everybody happy, don’t worry if things are gonna happen, 99 out of 100 times it wont, you think bad things will happen they probably wont.”

 

Mattie: “I didn’t marry the head chief I married an Indian”   *Minter rolls his eyes

 

What advice do you have for the young people today?

 

Mattie: “Not to giv’em everything, reach out and make your own way too”

 

Minter: “I advise diet and exercise– be careful what you put in your body.”

 

 

Southern Sayins ‘Splained

  1. Bless your heart: This phrase is the nice way to express your condolences, pity, or your outright shock at someone’s lack of intelligence. Bless your heart has become more mainstream in recent years, being used by Southerners and non-Southerners alike Now, I know it be difficult to understand how one phrase could mean these various things, so let me provide you with some examples:
  • Condolences: “Lucy’s mama passed away last week, and the viewing is tomorrow evening after supper (could be anytime after 4 pm).” à “Bless her heart; I’ll take over one of my chicken casseroles.”
  • Pity: “Did you hear that Thomas forgot his and Jessica’s anniversary for the 3rd year in a row?” à “Bless his heart; he never can get it together.”
  • Shock at someone’s lack of intelligence: “Lucille got lost goin’ to church again.” à “Bless her heart; she couldn’t find her way out of a brown paper bag.”
  1. Fixin’ to: “Fixin’ to” do something means you are about to do something. This is one of my personal favorites, but not to be confused with just plain ol’ “fixin’s” which are the sides to go along with the main course.
  • Example of fixin’ to: “I’m fixin’ to make a pecan pie for the church potluck.”
  • Example of fixin’s: “You bring the fried chicken, and I’ll bring the fixin’s.
  • For the advanced Southerner: “I’m fixin’ to fix the fixin’s for the pig pickin’.”
  1. Too big for their britches: “Too big for their britches” means someone has an inflated ego and thinks he is too good for his present situation. I have mixed feelings about this one because as a Southerner, it sounds 100% correct, but as a grammar fanatic, it screams pronoun error.
  • Example: “Someone is too big for their britches ever since he made the varsity football team.”
  1. Holler: Southerners don’t say yell; they say holler.
  • Examples: “I’ll be in the other room, just holler if you need me.”
  • “Must’ve been a good game; I could hear you hollerin’ from across the road!”
  1. Up/down yonder: We Southerners sometimes need to be as vague as possible, so when you either don’t want to give an exact location, or there really isn’t an exact location, you say yonder—the universal term for “that place.” Never once do I remember my grandma, my Ma-Maw, telling me she would be over “there.” It was always up or down yonder.
  • Example: “I’ll be over yonder if you need me, just holler.”
  1. Day’law: This is an expression used to exclaim surprise or bewilderment; it could be replaced with “my goodness.” “Day’law” is not a widespread phrase throughout the South; I’ve really only heard my Ma-Maw and other family members say it, but once you hear it, you can never forget it. To the best of my knowledge, “Day’law” is a shortened version of “Dear Lord,” but she never says “Dear Lord,” so I am not entirely sure.
  • Example: “Day’law, would ya look at the size of those sweet potatoes!”
  1. Up a creek: This is a phrase meaning in a serious predicament. “Up a creek” is synonymous with “in a pickle.”
  • Example: “I forgot to write my paper that was due today.” “Well, I guess you’re just up a creek.”

How to Survive a Southern Family Reunion

Those of us who live in the south all know that (sometimes dreaded) one day out of the year when all the strangers that have any sort of relation to us show up to gorge themselves on homemade cookin’ and make awkward conversation…that’s right, I’m talking about the good ol’ family reunion.

As someone who has survived 19 family reunions in my 19 years of life, I

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Oh the matching dresses 

have been in just about every awkward predicament you could imagine. From the days of wearing matching dresses with my mother (can it really get more Southern than that?) to the awkward middle school years when everyone commented on what a little “lady” I was becoming, I have experienced it all. So, no need to let yourself get worked up about this day; with my help you will be breezing in and out of family reunions with your wits about you and your self-esteem still intact.

Follow these tips and you’ll be sure to have smooth sailing:

  1. Forget the names

It happens to the best of us: that one aunt who posted on your Facebook on your birthday last year comes up to talk to you about everything that is happened to you in the past twelve months…only you cannot remember her name for the life of you. Do not panic. Avoid direct eye contact and be as vague as possible without being a bit rude.

Also, when it comes to those relatives you and your siblings have nicknames for because you don’t know their real names, (my brother and I still don’t know ZZ Top’s real name) don’t slip up and call that person their nickname to his face—maybe you should just avoid them all together. Planning is crucial when it comes to awkward questions, like if you are dating someone/if you will marry the person you are currently dating. Have prepared answers for questions such as these. Try: “I don’t know when I’m getting married; do you know when you’ll start dying your hair?” Gets them every time.

  1. Save room for gravy

We Southerners don’t just know how to make conversation for hours on end- we also know how to cook up some fantastic food. In order to make the most of this shmorgasport, don’t eat for at least 12 hours before the start of the reunion and get in line early (before someone over the age of 80 gives a 5 minute prayer/sermon about how important family is—get beside that food table).

  1. Choose your seat wisely

Pick out your table and put a purse on it to reserve it ahead of time, so you can avoid the “sit with me” requests from the weird aunts—“So sorry! I’m already sitting over there!” Or, if you are really in a fix, volunteer to help serve—do something to avoid the majority of the small talk before it’s time to eat.

  1. When your family asks you to give an impromptu performance

This is about as awkward as it gets. No, I will not as a 19-year-old get up and “do a little dance for you.” So weird. All the advice I’ve got for this one is to say no and look like you mean it the first time.

  1. Afterwards: connect with caution

After the reunion: accept FB requests with caution, Crazy Aunt Beth will like, comment, and share on anything and everything you post or are tagged in.