Miss Manners: Meet the Family
[I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the epitome of prim and proper- heck, who really is nowadays? But looking around at the misguided youths of today *ahem drinking buddies*, I’m starting to think that Miss Manners might have been onto something.
While you may never need to know how to greet a duke or how to tell which fork is REALLY the oyster fork, knowing how to deal with people whom owe you money, how much to tip, and how to address the ever annoying licorice-in-teeth conundrum without being rude might actually come in handy in the real world. I'm not trying to be your mother - oh goodness, no - I'm just here to help you out of those little etiquette dilemmas. So here goes: a quick lesson in etiquette. The sh*t you might actually need to know.]
This past weekend, my bf invited me to have Easter dinner with his family. After already weaseling my way out of both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, I knew I was going to have to come up with a GOOD excuse this time. Unfortunately, he caught me off guard and I think I stammered something along the lines of “Er… can’t…. brother… stay home… babysit… sorry!” into the phone. His response? “Great! Bring him with you.” Crap. So in honor of my 2 hours of awkwardness (kidding!!! uh..sorta), here is how to manage:
1. Milk your boyfriend.
[NO! Not like that! Put the udder down!] I meant for information. This is something I didn’t do but should have. It’s always good to know about his grandmother’s shopping addiction and his uncle’s super conservative political stance (“Of course I voted for McCain, Uncle Bob” *cough cough*) beforehand. Okay, so maybe you don’t have to get too personal with your digging (Great Aunt Ethel’s stomach issues), but always inquire about family traditions and taboo discussion topics before the meal. It helps to be prepared.
2. Greet each family member personally.
I know you want to suck up to his parents, but don’t forget the rest of the family. Be polite when introducing yourself and be prepared for anything from handshakes to hugs and kisses.
3. “Mr. and Mrs.”
I get it, we’re growing up. Even though Mr. and Mrs. Jones might feel more like Mike and Sue to you, greet them with respect and treat them as Mr. and Mrs. until they give you permission to refer to them otherwise.
4. Be prepared for 50,0000 questions
You’re the new girl and as such you will attract a crowd of curious family members like, well, a new girlfriend. Expect to be asked a million questions. Sample: “How long have you known blahblah?” “What are you majoring in?” “How old are you really?” “How many kids do you plan on having?” and “What are your intentions with my son?”
5. Stay out of family drama.
When drunken Uncle Bob gets into a heated argument with Grandpa about gay marriages, stay out of it. Your first meet-the-family function should definitely not be the time to seem disagreeable or garner enemies. If you must voice your opinion, make sure they know that you are well informed about the topic. Don’t get involved in age-old drama either. Smile and wait until the topic changes.
6. Bring a share-able gift
You certainly aren’t obliged to bring a gift, but if you do make sure it is something that can be enjoyed by everyone there. The clichéd bottle of wine will work just fine, but only if you are of legal drinking age (trust me, you don’t want to have to explain to his mom how you obtained the item in question. Plus it’ll make her wonder if you’re a drinker, which is never good.) If you’re a baker, bring desserts for everyone! Be creative. I love making chocolates, so I made a bunch of white chocolate candies for his family. So what if I chickened out and never took them out of my bag? It’s the thought that counts right?
7. Don’t drink…
Too much. Enough said.
Bottom line is, no matter how much you try to fight it, meeting the parents is pretty much inevitable. Just be yourself and when it’s all said and done, be grateful that you finally went through it – your man will find ways to thank you later.