30 Things I Learned, When the Family Visits

  1. Missing them will be easily remedied in 2 days.  On the 3rd day, the drama begins.
  2. Even if you insist you can’t take another guest (i.e. there aren’t any more mattresses) they will find a way. Like tie your couch pillows with a sheet. And insist they can sleep standing up.
  3. No matter how much you get everything ready, you will run out of toilet paper.
  4. Expect the neat freak to be hosing your garage and back porch everyday.  And shampooing your dogs while she’s at it.
  5. Everyone looks forward to lunch. Change that to food on the table.
  6. Lunch will leisurely drift to merienda, on to aperitifs, until they inquire about dinner, and cap off the day with alcohol.
  7. A mere two days into the fiesta, your fully stocked bar will run dry.
  8. Four bathrooms and yet they will hog just one. Complain about the foul smell. Or that it clogs.
  9. Anxiety and guilt will be your constant companions.
  10. You see your mannerisms in theirs. And it irritates the hell out of you.
  11. Your poor husband will be trying to sleep while nieces and nephews are outside pounding bongo drums with a stick.
  12. No one will own up to putting a hole in the antique couch.
  13. You will now have a host of characters for the melodrama you plan to write.
  14. Tact doesn’t work. Being straightforward, worse. The only way to a family member’s heart is to let each one talk all they want and nod your head.
  15. Everyone cares about each other.  And they will show it. In a myriad of ways.
  16. Forget your age, the oldies will still think you’re 9.
  17. There’s little you can do except respect the family culture.  That means shopping, snacking and tattling. Excessively.
  18. An itinerary won’t work.
  19. No one likes your healthy crap. They want carbs. And the saccharine sweet buco pie from Tagaytay.
  20. Everyday attire will be judged. And they will declare you need to wear make up.  And so, you will be taught how to shade eyebrows and put on killer eyelashes.
  21. Any other person would reckon your ordinary everyday conversations to be heated exchanges. Or a game where everyone has to speak at the same time.
  22. There’s nothing you can do about other people’s children. And you’ll have to grin and bear it after they’ve given your kids too much candy or movie on a weekday.
  23. You believe you’ve gone through enough self-knowledge exercises to face family dynamics but 3 days into the reunion, a relative sighing and wishing you had a microwave, will still have you escaping to the nearest café or locking yourself in the bathroom.
  24. You will have to endure the tiresome retelling of the past. Like how a brother got his tongue stuck in the freezer for the nth time. And then notice you like the rehash.
  25. You will desperately need to memorize the Serenity Prayer.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change those I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.”

(And yet with the family wisdom, no one can tell the difference.)

26.  The boundaries you thought you had built are simply not there.

27.  A week into it and you’re aware you no longer suffer through their insanity. Instead, you’re actually entertained by the drama and psychosis.

28. You know you need to trust them. They share your DNA.

29. You hate it, you love it. In a bizarre way, every crazed, exasperating moment was a gift, and you’ve never been as buoyant, as lighthearted, and as much yourself, as with family.

30. The day after they leave, when your home is spotless again, you’ve made merry at your freedom, and finally back to solitary everyday, you realize you miss them even more.

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”  -George Bernard Shaw, Immaturity

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