the circular runner

a guide to getting along with in-laws over the holidays

In humor, life, observations, Uncategorized on January 1, 2013 at 9:37 am


One of the many disappointing things about getting older is that you can’t just be an ass and blame other people for your shortcomings.  BOO, old age. BOO!!  Case in point: I’m in Florida for the holidays with my wife’s family.  I’ll admit that at first I wasn’t keen on coming.  I don’t really love traveling over the holidays; I’ve had run-ins with my brother-in-law in the past (though I will say he’s been a real great guy on this visit); and really, Flo. freaks my shit out.

Still, it’s the awkwardness I feel around some of my in-laws that freaks me out most.  When we all sit down for a meal, it feels as if I’m on a bad date–a bad date in which I have to sit across from like a dozen people who don’t want to be there with me.  This is where my progress shines through.  Are you blinded yet?

The other night I was at dinner with the clan.  My father-in-law always likes to go out to some restaurant with everyone at least once.  Odd thing is that almost always, he sits and stares off into space when we get there.  He works hard, to be fair.  And he always works.  He’s also not the only one who seems distant.  My sister-in-law’s boys can sometimes have meltdowns, which only add to the strange feeling because as a whole, I think the family feels some shame for the boys’ behavior, and many of us kind of drift off as the boys are being reprimanded.

Anyway, no one is really talking, or maybe they are.  I am bored out of my mind.  This year, I have The Boy as a shield, and as a friendly face to focus on, SO I’m getting by.  But it hits me.  Part of the reason I feel awkward around my in-laws is that I am always wishing it were different.  Basically, you have a room full of strangers who only come together because of their spouses.  There’s little chance that I would hang out with many of these individuals and the same is true on their end.  And this is where the age thing comes in.  In the past, I would sit back and assume the problem was elsewhere, i.e., with my in-laws.  Occasionally, I would shift the blame to myself.  I know I’m no saint.  But what I think I realized this time out was that I am wrong to assume it’s a matter of blame because the truth is no one is to blame.

It’s no one’s fault.  It’s just what it is.  And I do better when I accept it as such, because if I’m honest, I think that’s where my awkwardness comes in–it’s a masked disappointment that I just can’t seem to find a way in with these people who are so close to the woman I married.  Maybe that’s sad.  Maybe it isn’t.  What do you guys think?  Do you get along with your in-laws?

I hope so.

I also hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season.  See you in 2013.

  1. I read this with some amusement, and related very much. I’m really young, so my response could be a little misplaced, but you asked so nicely… Especially the whole ‘placing the blame’ aspect of it really hit home. When people around you aren’t what you’d hoped for, judging them for it is a very natural response. It’s called external attibution or something, an automatic thought pattern to preserve your self esteem and protect it from doubts. I was raised by very generous people, but come from a terribly critical and judgemental pair of parents. And that simply rubbed off on me, I am still very hard working to get rid of their influence. But once it’s there, it’s really hard to take a step back. Still; the first step is realizing it and honestly looking in the mirror. You seem like you’re doing that, which is 70% of the change. My fiancé proverbially hit me in the face with it once, “Would you stop acting like you’re so openminded. You’re not, the poison that comes out of your mouth somtimes…”, and he was right. Is that bad? In some situations, yeah, like when you have to get along with the family of your loved one. But it’s also human. Unfortunately, it can turn into a self fulfilling prophecy. For instance; I cross someone in the hall, and they have a busy day and they don’t smile at me. If I judge them for it, internally I could be all “oh my god, BITCH, what are you, too good to say hi?”. Next time, she might not be so busy, and go out her way to smile at me. But I’m all spiteful and bitchy, so I’ll be all *ice*. From that moment on; the imaginary attitude I perceived, truly exists. And it could have been avoided, if I had just not jumped to a conclusion like that. This is a grossly exaggerated example, but this happens every day, all the time, during human interaction, however subtly. It’s a long chain of events and interpretations, and certain attitudes come to exist towards each other in this way. Sometimes, after years and years, we come to find that we were entirely wrong about someone. Both positively and negatively. Preconceptions are a part of our brain, and it fucks us in the ass constantly. We think we make up our minds, but I think a lot of the time, my mind makes me up 😛

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