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.

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