Author Topic: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner  (Read 3233 times)

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saki

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s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« on: October 18, 2010, 08:37:21 AM »
That threadís mention of video games reminded me of what happens when I visit my in-laws.  My in-laws are all really into computer games and things like Rockband.  Theyíve all been playing these things since they were tiny and love it.  I just never got into computer games Ė itís not something my parents encouraged and Iím an only child so I never got into it through siblings. 

Whenever we go to visit any of my in-laws for Thanksgiving or Christmas, they like to play these games together after dinner and sometimes during the afternoon as well.  For hours.  I actually totted it up last time we were there for Thanksgiving and, over four days, they played over 25 hours of Rockband.   Every evening, after dinner, everyone would go into the basement and play Rockband from 7pm till midnight and sometimes during the afternoons as well.  One evening, I got my  husband to propose playing a board game and, after a bit of initial opposition, we got everyone to play and I think a good time was had by all for a couple of hours..  after which, more Rockband. 

I donít mind playing a game like Rockband for an hour or so but I just get bored after that.  It doesnít help that, having never played stuff like that before, Iím not very good but mostly Iím just not that into it.  So, what I usually do is spend a bit of time playing with them and then just go upstairs and read.  We usually manage to persuade them into a board game for part of one evening a visit as well.  I love reading so this isnít a huge hardship but my in-laws are mostly over the Atlantic and spending a fair amount of money and vacation time to sit in their house reading books doesnít really feel that worthwhile, you know?  They basically refuse to fly over to visit us for holidays (probably fodder for another thread) so itís not as though we get to host them in a video/computer game free environment half the time.

I realise that I could just not go Ė and I probably wonít go every time (weíve only been married a couple of years so itís only been a couple of visits so far) but I actually like my in-laws and would like to spend more time interacting with them when I do visit.

However, given that theyíre the hosts and everyone but me seems to love this way of spending time, do I have any other option but to do what I currently do? 

kckgirl

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2010, 08:56:09 AM »
Have you tried proposing some activities that require leaving the house? Outdoor games, movies, walk around the neighborhood, bike riding, window shopping, and reading cemetery headstones are a few that come to mind.
Maryland

CherryRipe

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2010, 09:00:49 AM »
Have you tried proposing some activities that require leaving the house? Outdoor games, movies, walk around the neighborhood, bike riding, window shopping, and reading cemetery headstones are a few that come to mind.

Yes, this.  Stay in a hotel, and schedule some day trips to do with the whole family, to break up the monotony of Rockband.

saki

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2010, 10:32:08 AM »
Staying in a hotel would a) be perceived as a really hostile gesture b) be impractical because neither of us want to rent a car while in the States on visits and American public transport being what it is, we'd then be dependent on family picking us up from our hotel to do anything and c) make our trips much less affordable.  When staying with my parents-in-law, we have suggested activities that involve going outside, their response is to say "Ok - have fun" and assume that my husband and I must want some couple time.  Even if we explicitly say, "it would be nice if you came with us", they don't - they'd rather just stay at home doing their own thing.  We could try it next time we're at my sister-in-law's instead but I honestly think there's a good chance that the same thing would happen.  But it's probably worth a try!

Rosey

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2010, 11:30:22 AM »
Hmm, I tend to think this is a little bit of "When in Rome . . ."

Then again, is there anything about this that says it's a special game time when you are there? Obviously it's not as much about playing with you per se, but is the rest of the family not usually there either? If that's the case, I think you need to just let them play. If they have plenty of opportunities to play with each other when you all aren't there, then I think you should start suggesting activities before you get there.

saki

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2010, 12:19:46 PM »
Hmm, I tend to think this is a little bit of "When in Rome . . ."

Then again, is there anything about this that says it's a special game time when you are there? Obviously it's not as much about playing with you per se, but is the rest of the family not usually there either? If that's the case, I think you need to just let them play. If they have plenty of opportunities to play with each other when you all aren't there, then I think you should start suggesting activities before you get there.

I tend to agree - which is why I've mostly just read books - but I was hoping that there might be some polite options to avoid the tedium.

Around half of the family see each other quite a lot, the other half don't see the first half a lot but do see one another a lot (basically two siblings are in the UK, two in the US and the parents also in the US so the Americans see each other a fair amount and so do the Brits but the Brit/American gatherings are only every year or two because the Americans refuse to travel.)  So, it is sort of special. 

It's really the length of it that gets to me rather than the fact of it, if you know what I mean?  I'd be fine with it if they played for an hour or two every evening - I'd probably even join in for that length of play - but when it's five hours every evening, sometimes on top of a couple of hours in the afternoon..  it's just a lot.

kudeebee

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2010, 03:26:18 PM »
Evidently it is something that their family likes to do and have been doing for years, so you are not going to change it.  Be glad that they are willing to play a board game one night, even if just for a short time.

Keep doing what you are doing--play for a short time period, then read your book, watch a movie on another tv or dvd player, go for a walk, listen to your ipod, etc.  Is it possible to listen to your ipod while you read and be in the same room that they are?

CherryRipe

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2010, 09:20:47 PM »
Hmm.....I know this sounds kind of superficial, but I honestly wouldn't visit with people whose main form of entertainment came in the form of "screen time," especially when these visits required travelling, and the hassle and expense that comes with it.  Saki says she's tried to suggest alternative activities, and it hasn't worked.  She says that she's "sucked it up" by sitting in another room and reading a book.....well, I say, enough already.  If all the relatives want to do is play Rockband, and they're not willing to "reciprocate" by visiting Saki and Mr. Saki, then maybe it's time for Saki to speak up, and say, basically, "I want to visit YOU, not your Playstation."

kudeebee

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2010, 10:06:59 PM »
I think she has tried to say she wants to visit with them and has tried to encourage them to do other things.  However, this family enjoys computer games and rockband and that is what they like to do together.  So, they are not going to change for one person and it doesn't seem to bother them when she plays with them for awhile and then does something else. 

It is understandable that saki doesn't enjoy video games as well as they do, it isn't her thing.  They do play a board game with her one night, maybe she can get them to do something else another time.  But, it sounds like she needs to learn to adapt to their ways of doing things rather than expecting them all to change for her.

shhh its me

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2010, 10:46:58 PM »
   I'd suggest trying more interactive boards games , things that have buttons , lights and beep.  There's an electronic passsword and charade game for example. You might not be able to change rock band into a trip to the museum but you might find some games you can enjoy too.

Deetee

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2010, 11:33:00 PM »
I'd go with the "when in Rome". If the majority enjoys an activity, I think people just spend most of their time on it. The rest of the family is having a good time and Rock band is so much fun with other people, I can see it being a treat.

You can suggest some other activities, but if 9/10 people LOVE rockband, that will likely be 90% of the fun time.

padua

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2010, 12:03:05 AM »
my family is very into card games. regardless of who comes over, there will be several games of cards around which my family will socialize. this is problematic for my husband, who doesn't play cards, and for those who can't squeeze into a game (the game can only have four players). we've had to settle with recruiting those not into the card games into another activity, but this is simply what my family does. i agree with the others who state that families tend to migrate to an activity they're most comfortable, and 'when in rome...' after all, at least they're playing an interactive game, rather than going to different corners of the house and not engaging.

maybe bring your book or knitting or whatever down to where they're playing so you can be part of the 'fun' without having to actually play the game. when visiting family, it's always pleasantest when we can conform to the hosting family's norms.

TootsNYC

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2010, 08:33:09 AM »
my family is very into card games. regardless of who comes over, there will be several games of cards around which my family will socialize. this is problematic for my husband, who doesn't play cards, and for those who can't squeeze into a game (the game can only have four players). we've had to settle with recruiting those not into the card games into another activity, but this is simply what my family does. i agree with the others who state that families tend to migrate to an activity they're most comfortable, and 'when in rome...' after all, at least they're playing an interactive game, rather than going to different corners of the house and not engaging.

maybe bring your book or knitting or whatever down to where they're playing so you can be part of the 'fun' without having to actually play the game. when visiting family, it's always pleasantest when we can conform to the hosting family's norms.

A huge part of the fun for families that do things like play RockBand or cards is not *ACTUALLY* the activity. Well, the activity is part of the fun; of course. They get good at it, and there's intellectual challenge, etc.

But after awhile, it's just another card game.

What matter to them, what fuels them, is the interaction during the game. Someone says something silly; everybody laughs. Someone does something particularly tricky; everybody applauds.

After the game, they might talk about the time that someone discarded the last card, and it turned out to be the very one he needed, isn't that funny? wasn't he ridiculous? that happened to me.

That's where families get inside jokes--someone's quip becomes a theme for the night.

I vote for sitting and watching them play, and focusing on how this helps you get to know the people who are playing. Watch to see how they interact with one another; who leads? who encourages? who cracks jokes?

Cheer from the sidelines. Be there to be part of the joke, part of the communication.

Hmmmmm

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2010, 11:03:50 AM »
Are your IL's willing to let your DH borrow their car?

You mentioned a sister in law.  Maybe you could do some research of events in the city prior to your trip and identify an activity that the two of you may enjoy.  Send her a note "Hey, SiL.  I saw that x exhibit will be in town while we are there.  Would you be willing to go with me?"  It could even be a store you're interested in visiting or a site that you want to see.  Or maybe a movie is being released in the States that you want to see and get her to committ to that for an evening out.  Sometimes it's easier to get one person in a group to modify their activities than the whole group. 

Squeaks

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2010, 12:57:10 PM »
I think you need to modify your expectations a bit.

You think a "visit" is one thing.  They think a "visit" is "get together and play video games" it is what it is.  If you keep on expecting a "visit" that is more like what you would expect in your family, you will continue to be disappointed and frustrated. If you just accept that the plan is to play Rock Band at least you might not be as annoyed. 

This is their method of spending time together.  Some do it at events, some do it over sports, some do it over drinks, some do it over food, some do it just them and nothing else.  None of those are wrong, and there is no "right" way to do it.  You can certainly not go, but to them saying "I don't want to go to just sit around playing video games, i want to actually visit with you all and see you"  will likely be to them the same as "I don't want to go to just sit around eating dinner, i want to actually visit with you all and see you" to many others.  I think most people are ok with eating/drinking with socializing,  for them videos games are their food/drinks.

I personally hate Thanksgiving dinner.  The only things i will eat are the Turkey, which i really think only belongs in a sandwich with cheese - straight turkey holds absolutly know appeal to me,  and the mashed potatoes, which usually are only edible and not good, as i prefer mine far less mashed then most people do for Thanksgiving.   I don't eat any of the other so called "fixings" or desserts.  I honestly think a gas station sandwich is more appetizing than turkey dinner.   But I accept that for many people, that is what you do on Thanksgiving.  I am not going to refuse to go because I don't like the food.  That would be silly, I just eat before hand and tend to grab fast food on the way home.  I don't see refusing to go because  you don't like the games any more justified.  That is their tradition,  saying you don't like their tradition and means of spending time together is a very thin line from saying you don't like them and you don't want to spend time with them.

I think the idea of bringing a book down is a good one.  You could also look for other video games that are more interesting to you.  I think that would be a better compromise than a board game.

Depending on the game, you could also look up any Easter eggs/achievements/fan invented challenges/etc. and possibly be the guide master.  It might be more fun for you to read things they can do and help them unlock things.