The joy of the holidays can quickly be replaced by horror if you are meeting your sweetie’s family for the first time. If your honey is coming home with you for the first time this year, go out of your way to take some of the pressure off of him or her – and off of your family as they may be a bit nervous as well. ~smile~
Below are five ways you can help your sweetie connect with your family this Thanksgiving. It pays to get off to a good start with the future in-laws! I wish I had thought of these the first Thanksgiving Eric spent with my family!
- Let Your Sweetie in on Your Family Traditions before the Festivities Begin. Prepare him or her for the madness! ~smile~ Some Thanksgivings include six people and a turkey, while other celebrations include fifty people and a giant roasted pig! Let your boyfriend or girlfriend know what to expect so he or she is not in utter shock! This is especially true if you come from different cultures. If well informed, he or she will have a chance to dazzle your family by joining in the fun like a pro!
- Start a Tradition with Your Family that Includes Your Sweetie! Family traditions are special, but sometimes they can make the new family members feel a wee bit out of place or homesick. As a good will gesture towards your honey, consider starting a new tradition in addition to your old traditions – one that includes him or her (or even adopt one of his or her traditions with which he or she is already comfortable). It can be the great equalizer between your family and your significant other. Maybe a pre-dinner family football game, board games, or working at the soup kitchen together?
- Allow for Space if Needed. Some families are extremely inclusive, and have come one, come all attitudes about life. And then, some families are quiet, reserved, and take a while to warm up to new people or circumstances. One is not better or worse than the other; people are just different and need different considerations. If your sweetie is shy, and your family is crazy-loud and obnoxious, let him or her slip away when it all becomes too overwhelming. If your sweetie is outgoing, but your parents are reserved, carve out some down time for everyone involved. Just because it is a holiday does not mean every single minute of the day has to be spent together. Just knowing that expectations are low can help your family and your sweetie feel less pressured, especially if they are meeting for the first time. ~smile~
- Have your Sweetie Bring a Gift – It may seem outdated, but it packs a punch! A small token of gratitude can quickly elevate your sweetheart on the Mom and Dad scale. How would your mom react if your boyfriend gave her a small gift and said, “Thank you so much for having me in your home!”? If your girlfriend came over with her signature pumpkin pies and spiced cider from her hometown apple orchard, would that not impress your parents? Older generations almost expect young men and women today to display a narcissistic entitlement mentality. “Of course you should feed me. After all, I took the time to grace you with my presence.” So even the slightest show of gratitude is likely to set your honey apart from the crowd! And, if your sweetheart really wants to wow them, he or she should help clean up after dinner!
- Pull Out the Family Albums – Thanksgiving and Christmas are great times to reminisce anyway. Going through photo albums with your family and sweetheart gives them a chance to laugh together, talk about old times, tell stories, and embarrass you! ~wink~ It is a way of bringing your significant other into your family’s history. The more interested he or she is, the better! ~smile~
If this is the first Thanksgiving you spend with your sweetie, capture the memories somehow! Also use this time to observe each other. How does he handle new situations? How much effort will she put into getting to know my family? How does he react when he does not get his way? How much can she stand being picked on by my more annoying relatives? Road trips are great ways to see who someone really is, but road trips to see family during an emotionally charged time of the year can really bring out the hidden layers of a person!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May your pants be tight and your hearts be light!
How will you help your family and your sweetie connect this Thanksgiving?