Author Topic: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner  (Read 3167 times)

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MsOverThinker

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2010, 02:03:12 PM »
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 commit 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. 

This would be my suggestion.  Be proactive and try to make an outing plan before you arrive.  How often do you visit?  While my family is usually happy with card playing and staying-in activities during the holidays, if someone's coming from far away (most of my family is from Midwest State and only a few relatives, including me, live on the coasts) they are much more open to an outing/activity that the visitor can only enjoy in that locale. 

Also, POD Toots.  It's about being there and sharing in the interaction.  Otherwise, yeah, maybe you need to consider going less often.

Deetee

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2010, 02:12:58 PM »
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.

Toots is so smart.

CherryRipe

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2010, 08:13:02 PM »
Squeaks, I see what you're trying to say, but I think you're making a bit of a false dichotomy there.  The thing with going to Thanksgiving dinner if you don't like the food is, it doesn't affect the interaction between people.  I'm not much for Thanksgiving dinner either--I'm a vegetarian, so I can't eat turkey, gravy, or stuffing that's been inside the turkey, and I don't eat butter either (not a veggie thing, more of an aversion to putting viscous fat in/on my food).  In fact, when I lived at home, my mom would make me a separate pan of box-mix stuffing, and I'd eat maybe, three bites of it, and the rest would get thrown out, because I really don't like stuffing in general, but I didn't have the heart to tell her that.  But anyway, I digress.  With Thanksgiving dinner, it didn't matter if I just ate vegetables, and a small serving of non-buttered, starch-based sides, because I could still interact with my family just the same, even if we weren't all eating the same thing. 

However, with Rockband (or any other video game), the interaction pretty much IS the game.  It makes conversation harder, because everyone's focusing on what's happening on the screen, and it prevents people from getting up from the television screen, going out and doing other activities, and just generally engaging with the real world.  The truth is, they have that game all the time, and they could play it whenever they want, but Saki and her husband can only visit once in a while, because of the cost and logistics of the travel involved.  So, I think Saki's relatives *are* being selfish to insist on all Rockband, all the time, when Saki and her husband visit.  Even without the travel issue, I was taught as a child that, when you have guests over, you do what the guests want to do.  Well, in this case, Saki wants to actually interact and do stuff, so in that case, I think her wishes should be honoured.

Aeris

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2010, 10:51:13 PM »
Squeaks, I see what you're trying to say, but I think you're making a bit of a false dichotomy there.  The thing with going to Thanksgiving dinner if you don't like the food is, it doesn't affect the interaction between people.  I'm not much for Thanksgiving dinner either--I'm a vegetarian, so I can't eat turkey, gravy, or stuffing that's been inside the turkey, and I don't eat butter either (not a veggie thing, more of an aversion to putting viscous fat in/on my food).  In fact, when I lived at home, my mom would make me a separate pan of box-mix stuffing, and I'd eat maybe, three bites of it, and the rest would get thrown out, because I really don't like stuffing in general, but I didn't have the heart to tell her that.  But anyway, I digress.  With Thanksgiving dinner, it didn't matter if I just ate vegetables, and a small serving of non-buttered, starch-based sides, because I could still interact with my family just the same, even if we weren't all eating the same thing. 

However, with Rockband (or any other video game), the interaction pretty much IS the game.  It makes conversation harder, because everyone's focusing on what's happening on the screen, and it prevents people from getting up from the television screen, going out and doing other activities, and just generally engaging with the real world.  The truth is, they have that game all the time, and they could play it whenever they want, but Saki and her husband can only visit once in a while, because of the cost and logistics of the travel involved.  So, I think Saki's relatives *are* being selfish to insist on all Rockband, all the time, when Saki and her husband visit.  Even without the travel issue, I was taught as a child that, when you have guests over, you do what the guests want to do.  Well, in this case, Saki wants to actually interact and do stuff, so in that case, I think her wishes should be honoured.

I think you're missing what a lot of people are saying here though. For a lot of people, no, the point of the game is NOT the game - it IS the interaction with the people you are playing with. It may not be that way for you, and that's fine, but that doesn't change that that's the way it is for a lot of people. Playing Rockband alone is completely and utterly different from playing it with my brother, and that's completely different from playing it with my college buddies. It is a way to bond, and spend time together - it's absolutely no different, in any meaningful objective way from playing a board game together. One or the other may not be your cup of tea, but it is not *objectively* different.

You could just as easily say that playing a board game, or cards, together make it 'more difficult to interact with the real world' or more difficult to go and do other activities - sure it does, because you're *already* doing an activity together.

Saki's husband seems to really enjoy this time as well, from what I can tell. This is how this family interacts. These are not guests in a truly formal sense, this is family coming together to spend family time together, and this is a major way they like to do it. I really can't conceive of the entire family giving up the way that *they* choose and enjoy bonding together during the only time they get to spend together just because one person doesn't care for it quite as much.

They insist on playing rockband, because they - Saki's husband included - like spending time together that way.

What if this was a family who bonded by camping, and Saki just didn't care so much for camping? Would this family be expected to give up their primary method of choice for spending time together and bonding just because one person didn't like it? I don't get it.

None of this is meant to rip on Saki in any way. I completely understand being bored to tears by your SO's family's choice of family time activities. But I do strongly feel that while you can make gentle suggestions, for the most part, yeah, you just go along with what the family as a whole when they get together really enjoy doing.

Cherry, I'm not sure what you're practical suggestion for Saki is - do you propose she simply stop accompanying her husband on these family trips, because the choice of activity bores her?

Squeaks

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2010, 10:10:13 AM »
Squeaks, I see what you're trying to say, but I think you're making a bit of a false dichotomy there.  The thing with going to Thanksgiving dinner if you don't like the food is, it doesn't affect the interaction between people.  I'm not much for Thanksgiving dinner either--I'm a vegetarian, so I can't eat turkey, gravy, or stuffing that's been inside the turkey, and I don't eat butter either (not a veggie thing, more of an aversion to putting viscous fat in/on my food).  In fact, when I lived at home, my mom would make me a separate pan of box-mix stuffing, and I'd eat maybe, three bites of it, and the rest would get thrown out, because I really don't like stuffing in general, but I didn't have the heart to tell her that.  But anyway, I digress.  With Thanksgiving dinner, it didn't matter if I just ate vegetables, and a small serving of non-buttered, starch-based sides, because I could still interact with my family just the same, even if we weren't all eating the same thing. 

However, with Rockband (or any other video game), the interaction pretty much IS the game.  It makes conversation harder, because everyone's focusing on what's happening on the screen, and it prevents people from getting up from the television screen, going out and doing other activities, and just generally engaging with the real world.  The truth is, they have that game all the time, and they could play it whenever they want, but Saki and her husband can only visit once in a while, because of the cost and logistics of the travel involved.  So, I think Saki's relatives *are* being selfish to insist on all Rockband, all the time, when Saki and her husband visit.  Even without the travel issue, I was taught as a child that, when you have guests over, you do what the guests want to do.  Well, in this case, Saki wants to actually interact and do stuff, so in that case, I think her wishes should be honoured.

Maybe the dynamic in your family was different in your family, in mine the "interaction"  was "mmm good food I love turkey dinner omm nom nom nom nom"  then hurrying to kick everyone out so people could be ready for bed by six pm.  Well they did occasionally make sarky comments to me about my plate or only eating meat,  or trying to convince me that sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes are the same (ummm no they are not, and yes there were years that they only had sweet and id only eat dry turkey. .  . lots of snark on those years),  so really the interaction was the food, I was left to twiddle my thumbs doing nothing waiting for them to finish listening to the same conversation about loving turkey dinner every single time it was served.  The point if there was one at all was the food, not the interaction.  I don's see how watching people eat is any more interactive than watching people play a game.  Heck i feel like i can interact with people while playing video games much easier than while eating.  But i do think it was sweet of your mom to try.   

Video games are part of the real world.  Not liking them or "getting" them does not not negate their existence.

They also can not play with Saki's husband all the time.

The problem with saying "Saki wants to interact and do stuff" is the answer is "Ok how about Rock Band?"  and just about anything else she suggests can be countered with "how is that different than Rock Band?" Rock Band is "stuff"

Really if Saki wants to do *anything*  be it play a board game, go to a museum, then the same arguments can be made about those things as they can with Rock Band.  That they are the focus and a distraction.  I suppose she could suggest they just turn off the TV and sit around talking and doing nothing but talk, but i suspect that is going to be interpreted as "Let's all sit in the room starring vacantly at each other"  Some people just do not have much to say, and saying "let's talk and interact" is going to be met with " Um. . . . hi. . . I think im done now, i don't really have much else to say"  If you are actually "doing" something, it can be a distraction for interacting. 

Yes the argument can be made that you should try to keep your guests comfortable.  But there is something unsavory about a guest wanting to bore all of her hosts to tears.  If they have no interest in doing what she wants, it is a bit selfish of her to want to force them to be board while she has fun.  They have said she/she and hubby/she and others can go off and do other stuff so they are not trapping her or forcing her to play.  She however does want to force them to do what she wants.  Really she would need to articulate more so why one thing is better than Rock Band in a way that is more than just she prefers it.  Guest or not, there is a point where majority rules and a point where it is selfish to want 5-10 people to be board so you can have fun.   A board game is just a preference.  It really is not that different from arguing they should play Guitar Hero vs Rock Band.  Functionally they are they same,  it just is a matter of preference.

If she can find a suggestion that they like,  great, wonderful.  But if they say "No we really don't want to play a board game" It should be dropped. I can not see how anyone would have fun thinking "I like this board game so much better than Rock Band and even though i am surrounded by people that are only doing this to humor me and would rather be playing Rock Band I am still having more fun even if they are all board for my sake"  Id just feel to guilty. It would be way way to weird to me to have people do that.





In writing all this and thinking about my family I think something just clicked.

With my family we talked often enough in passing we did not need to catch up, we knew eachother and what was going on.  My aunt called my mother and grandmother each at least once a day. My grandparents lived five minutes from my family.  So at a family dinner/get together/holiday, there was not really need to spend loads of time just talking.  It was already said.  So they focused on distractions.

Saki said that they rest of the family see each other quite a lot, so i suspect they are the same.  They do not need to spend time talking and interacting to catch up.  They know what is going on. If they catch up every 2-3 days or so,  the catch up only takes so long, so they do other stuff.   Sure Saki and Hubby are not there as much, but it can be hard to change the dynamic and the feel of feeling caught up.  And with modern connections (facebook, email, cell phones, etc.) they may feel more connected to Saki and Co than they would a distant relative 20 years ago.  In some ways that fact that they feel like you are still one of them is kinda sweet.   

There is only so much catch up with a group of say 8 close and two distant you can do before it is awkward.  Think about it.  It can be an interrogation of Saki and Hubby where they ask them questions to get caught up on their lives as they are the distant ones, which can feel odd for many involved.  Or If it is a back and forth with Saki and Hubby getting caught up on the family, then they are making the family hear stuff that they already know.  i.e. Skai and Hubby may not know about Cousin 1's new job and may like to hear about it, but the eight other people who have heard about it routinely for a few months likely already have heard it all and it is tedious to have to hear it again. 

So I have and idea.  Saki.  I think you should try to focus on spending some time with them one or two at a time.  Maybe you would rather do it as a group, but that may not work.  But if while all of them are playing Rock Band, if you corner Cousin 1 during some down time and say "Id really like to hear about your new job"  there is a good chance that at least Cousin 1 would take the time to play less Rock Band and talk to you one on one more.  Then over the course of a visit you can at least get your conversation time with everyone, even if it is one at a time.  Knowing that you don't know about the job would make them more comfortable and open about talking as there would not be that nag in their head saying "they know this"  and with devoted one and one time . . . well it can be easier. 

You could also be more selective and direct in your suggestions.  Instead of saying "it be fun to do x, it be great if you (general all of you or any of you) came"  maybe think of something you know one of them likes.  So try something like "Cousin 2 I know you are interested in X and Y thing about X is happening id love to go check it out with you"  you may have more luck with getting Cousin 2 to go with you.  It likely would be easier to find something that two people want to do rather than 10.  And you can always extend the invite to everyone else.  I suspect that as soon as one of them says "sure that sounds fun" others would be a bit more comfortable as well.   It may not be ideal to split up like that, but if you spread it out evenly I think it could be a really good compromise.

Yvaine

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2010, 10:53:37 AM »
I don's see how watching people eat is any more interactive than watching people play a game.  Heck i feel like i can interact with people while playing video games much easier than while eating.  But i do think it was sweet of your mom to try.   

Video games are part of the real world.  Not liking them or "getting" them does not not negate their existence.

Pod. In my family it's "fall into semi-sleep in front of the football game." No, I don't find it exciting, but that's just what they all do, kwim?

Quote
There is only so much catch up with a group of say 8 close and two distant you can do before it is awkward.  Think about it.  It can be an interrogation of Saki and Hubby where they ask them questions to get caught up on their lives as they are the distant ones, which can feel odd for many involved. 

This just clicked with me as well. I think this is absolutely true. It reminds me of that panel of Hyperbole and a Half (http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/09/four-levels-of-social-entrapment.html) where they run out of things to say but feel like they need to keep talking:

"Job?"
"The same. Your job?"
"Pretty okay. That thing you're interested in?"
"I still like it!"

It's different in that the cartoonist is talking more about casual acquaintances, but still, it can be hard to find things to say if you're pretty caught up on each other's lives.

saki

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2010, 12:01:53 PM »
Just a few responses on various things:

To be honest, even if it were in my power to somehow flick something and have it disable all the video games in the house every time we visit without any blame attaching to me, I wouldnít do it.  They clearly all really enjoy it (including my husband to some extent, though I think he would prefer slightly less of it than they want) and I donít want to deprive them of that.  What Iíd like is just a bit less of it Ė not even necessarily a lot less of it, just maybe one evening a visit that is completely clear of it.  I do NOT expect them to change the whole holiday to suit me but is it really so selfish to want them to change it a little bit to adapt to my interests as well?  My family have made changes to the way that they interact at holidays because of my husband and other people who have married into the family, and I guess itís because of that that I think itís normal that holiday traditions adapt as your family members marry people who may enjoy different things.  Not change wholesale but adapt and evolve.  But maybe thatís unusual.  I donít know, thatís why Iím asking the question.  I really am asking it as an open question Ė if you all think that seeking a small adaption to how they do things is selfish, I will abandon all hope of changing the activities.  Though I like the idea of planning something in advance.
 
I think the board game thing is more of a grey area than some commenters are assuming.  It clearly isnít everyoneís first choice of activity (though I think it is my parents-in-lawís first choice as well as mine so itís more like 3 Vs 7 on that rather than 1 Vs 9 and all of my in-laws own loads of board games so presumably they actively like them) but everyone genuinely does seem to really enjoy it once we start.  Iím not sure whether they enjoy it more than Rockband/Wii/other video games but they definitely seem to enjoy it as least as much.  I think itís more that Rockband/Wii/etc are their ďdefaultĒ choice of activity than that they actually hate doing anything else.  Iím definitely not boring them to tears with the board games. 

I have tried sitting in the same room while they play but I find it really excruciatingly boring.  Unfortunately for me, I have a face that betrays what Iím thinking rather well and I think itís not a good idea for me to do this too much because I donít want to cast a damper on proceedings.

Itís not that everyone sees each other all the time and weíre the only people who havenít seen the others for a while Ė the Americans (6) see each other reasonably frequently and so do the Brits (4) but the group as a whole only gets together every 18 months or so.

I think a lot of my frustration generally comes from the fact that I never get a chance to host.  If I got to host one in five times the way that Iíd like to host, Iíd be a lot happier with doing things their way when theyíre hosting.  But, as previously said, the Americans are essentially all refusing ever to travel to the UK for holidays.  I think perhaps, in the longer term, thatís the issue to address.  Now that the other British sibling is no longer getting his flights to the US paid for by his parents, I think weíll have a bit more support in pushing the idea of having Christmas or Thanksgiving in the UK every once in a while.

Hmmmmm

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2010, 01:30:48 PM »
Saki, I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting a small change.  I'd be bored out of my mind sitting around watching people playing video games.  When my DH and DS start on the Wii, I can handle playing for about an hour then I'm off.  My family likes to play cards and my sis's and I can do a marathon of spades.  But we know our spouses are good for about 2 hours.  So we'll play for shorter periods. 

The only suggestion I have on getting them to travel to you is to refuse to travel every other year.  Tell them that you and DH would love for them to come visit those years. 

TootsNYC

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #23 on: October 23, 2010, 09:48:58 PM »
Have you ever asked them to cut down on the amount of time they spend at that?

Have you ever said, "I feel left out."
or
"I wish I could feel more connected to you all, but I just don't feel that way when everybody but me is playing RockBand for the entire afternoon."
or
"Do you all realize you've been playing for 5 hours straight? Anybody want to take a break, and chat?"

CherryRipe

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #24 on: October 23, 2010, 11:08:16 PM »
Talking and interacting doesn't always have to mean sitting in a room and staring vacantly at one another.....how about taking a walk outside to look at the fall colours?

I'mnotinsane

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #25 on: October 24, 2010, 01:11:07 AM »
I don't know too much about Rockband.  I've have played it a couple of times on other's game systems (and at Chuckie Cheese ;D).  I'm bored within two minutes.  But how many people can actually play at once?  One guitar?  Two or four people taking turns playing each game?  If they enjoy it this much they must actually be good.  Are their turns super long?

Since they like interacting over games, how about asking them to play a game that you can tag people in and out of easily?  I've played trivial pursuit at parties with an ever changing opposing team and people coming and going from my team as well.  You don't even need to be at the board to answer questions.  What are your favorite games?  Are they adaptable?


Deetee

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #26 on: October 24, 2010, 01:31:20 AM »
I don't know too much about Rockband.  .. But how many people can actually play at once?  One guitar?  Two or four people taking turns playing each game?  If they enjoy it this much they must actually be good.  Are their turns super long?

4 people can play at once: Guitar, Bass Guitar, Singing and Drums. All the scores are cumulative, so you get a group score and a personal score. You also get to set the difficulty for each person seperately. A good player can help out a poor player by "saving" them. If everyone is doing well at once the scores multiply and there are bonuses if everyone completes a difficult or special string.

Personally, I find it great fun to play as a group (or as audience), but very boring for just me. It's not the game really, it's the interaction. 4 days straight seems a lot, but a couple days can be super fun.


Aeris

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Re: s/o Being ignored at the holiday dinner
« Reply #27 on: October 24, 2010, 01:33:32 AM »
Since they like interacting over games, how about asking them to play a game that you can tag people in and out of easily?  I've played trivial pursuit at parties with an ever changing opposing team and people coming and going from my team as well.  You don't even need to be at the board to answer questions.  What are your favorite games?  Are they adaptable?



Thing is, most people don't play rockbad for the cumulative score, so it's really really easy to tag people in and out. Whenever I've played with friends, we switch off parts, and who's sitting out, pretty much for every song.