Peace In A Tin Can

Peace In A Tin Can

Monday, January 7, 2013

That One Annoying Relative

Every year is the same.  Different locations, maybe, as family members take turns hosting the big dinner, and different stories as we all catch up on the past year, but essentially holidays remain the same.  Families all over the country gather together to eat too much, laugh, argue, roll their eyes, watch a football game, eat some more, and give thanks for the people sitting at the table with them.

Our family is no different.  When my parents still lived in the house I grew up in, my mom always hosted holidays.  They sold that house a few years back, and once they moved to a smaller dwelling, festivities moved to my house.  Once in a while, we all travel to my sister's house, two hours away.  But each Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Graduation, Anniversary, or Fourth of July I try to come up with ways to make it different, more fun, the "holiday" to remember in my family lore.  Yet, it's always the same.

Everybody gathers, each person brings the same dish they always bring, we use the same dishes, and seating arrangements never vary.  And then there's always that one annoying relative.  The one everybody rolls their eyes at.  The one who doesn't quite fit in.  In my family, I strongly suspect the one annoying relative is…me.

I don't try to be annoying.  I vow before every family function to keep my mouth shut, blend in, and smile a lot.  It usually lasts about 30 minutes, until someone says something about the Catholic School System, or Stay-At-Home moms (translation:  GET A JOB, KIKI!), or the worst of all, when someone mentions that my dog should not be standing on the kitchen table eating the mashed potatoes.  Do my relatives really think I don't already know that?

I think they do it on purpose.  I see the glances at each other, silently egging someone on to say just the right thing to push me up on my soapbox.  It doesn't take much.  Bring up raising children, marriage, religion, gun control, or life goals and my temper flairs.  Throw my cleaner-than-clean household in as a conversation starter, and my defenses will soar.  Here's another fun topic; how many colleges did Kiki attend before graduating?  I will admit, I give them plenty of ammunition, but just once I wish they'd overlook the alphabetized soup cans and DVD's, ignore the clump of dog hair on the floor when I seriously just vacuumed, and omit their comments about my clothes hanging in the closet according to color and texture.  Why are they looking in my closet anyway?

My husband's family is worse, simply because his family is so much bigger than mine.  There are only 12 people in my family to give me grief; his has over 80.  But I've come to one conclusion.  Every once in a while, I have an obligation that prevents me from attending a family function.  When that happens, I think they miss me.  It's not nearly as much fun when that one annoying relative isn't there.  It leaves a gap.  Who do they whisper about?  Who else can they place bets on for questionable behavior when I'm not there?  Who makes them laugh?

I may be annoying, but it has its place in family.  That one annoying relative brings color to the party.  I bring the stuff that they talk about for months to come.  I become a legend in the family.

There are worse things to be legendary for than simply being different.  I don't drink and make a fool of myself.  I don't flirt or cheat on my husband.  My kids are great.  I never say half of the things that pop into my head because I truly don't want to offend anyone.  I'm just me.  Different than the rest of the family, but good and smart and funny with questionable fashion sense.

Even though my family likes to push my buttons for their own amusement, I still know they love me.  They don't laugh at me as much as for me.  The teasing is always accompanied by a hug and a wink.  I lighten the mood, and make them wish, just for a second, they had the courage to be different too.  The feeling usually goes away quickly.

I am currently planning my daughter's graduation party.  My family finds it annoying that I am preparing 6 months ahead of time, but they can be assured it will be an awesome party, annoying relative and all.  With color-coordinated foods on the banquet table and 18 years' worth of photos captioned and arranged chronologically, it just doesn't get any better than this!

So who is the annoying relative in your family and why?  I want to know how I rank!