Dear Snarky – I Hate My Family Reunion


Dear Snarky,

Do you any advice on how to gracefully get out of attending Family Reunions? Last summer I was guilted into going to five! It was miserable and in my opinion a complete waste of time. I’d say most of the people at the reunions didn’t even know me or my family. So, really what’s the point?

Signed, Not My Idea of a Good Time

Dear Not My Idea of a Good Time,

Reunions are a combination of an I.R.S. audit and being a contestant in a beauty pageant. You get a financial shake down by virtual strangers and your appearance is judged by people who still wear baby blue eye shadow. Not usually the stuff of great times. Sure, some families have their reunions at Disneyworld or the beach?  You get their Christmas cards or see their Facebook posts with everyone decked out in white linen shirts (with just the slightest hint of a wrinkle) that shows off their sun-kissed skin with the sapphire blue rolling waves behind them as an ocean breeze gently tosses their hair. Unfortunately, most of us go to reunions held in musty fellowship halls or swamp adjacent mosquito enriched picnic areas.

My advice is that you put your family on a reunion rotation schedule. Go to one reunion a summer and be firm with your mother, grandma, and great aunts that that’s all you’ll be attending. Anyone can handle  one reunion a year – right? It might not be a blast, but seeing your extended family is full of life lessons. For example, my husband’s family reunion serves as a scared straight program for my kids. They can see what the future holds when you give in to the pull of the dark side of your gene pool, barely graduate high school and think a toothpick is a fashion accessory.

So grab your bug spray, make your best covered dish recipe, and smile. You’re only doing this one time a year.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky message me on Facebook at Snarky In the Suburbs or email me at

8 thoughts on “Dear Snarky – I Hate My Family Reunion

  1. Tori says:

    We don’t have family reunions and I am soooo thankful! My husband’s side is so full of fugitives they are afraid of a sting operation if they all gathered in one spot and my family is so small a reunion is just unnecessary. Don’t be jealous.

  2. Janel Sharp says:

    Its best to avoid your backwoods fambly who lives in the forrest canopy and shats from trees. A busy schedule is the best way to claim prior commitments and avoid such awkward obligatory family reunions.

  3. Laurel Isaak says:

    I think once a year is a lot! Reunions are expensive! In most cases it means at least gas and a hotel room, in our case it’s plane tickets, rental car, and hotel room! Last year we turned it into a vacation since it was at Mt. Rushmore, so we did that and went to Yellowstone when the whole thing was over. Seriously though, we spent most of the time in a hotel ballroom listening to a three hour orchestrated presentation of my husband’s family history. Then they pulled out aunt so and so who chortled “How Great Thou Art” with her kids and everyone carried on about their musical prowess, but I don’t think America’s Got Talent will be calling anytime soon! I couldn’t feel my arse at the end of the whole thing and then we were informed there would be a repeat performance for breakfast in the morning! OH HELP!

  4. Lisa says:

    Visiting my in-laws teaches my kids how not to blurt out what they are thinking…”it stinks in here!”, “where’s grandpa’s teeth?”, “There’s dog pee on the toys!”

  5. George says:

    Every year my wife’s extended family has a reunion. Most of her family are fairly nice people, but we have little in common with them. The reunions have this strange mix of a Garrison Keillor vibe (they do silly games, etc.) while still having the IRS audit/beauty pageant traits that you mention. Being an introvert and having some social anxiety makes it even more challenging because they all stay in one house together for several days with no privacy or down time. Since we take very little vacation time per year, I can’t imagine using a good portion of our vacation time to hang out with people we barely know, we don’t have much in common with at an event that we find boring, awkward and expensive (flights, hotel).

  6. DottieKins says:

    Once a year? No, it really depends on the family. Family reunions and the amount of time adults choose to partake in them should be completely voluntary—and to hell what others think if you decide to not go. I went to my father’s every year as a child and feel they did not help at all with making me more connected with my relatives. Small visits with my grandparents, on the other hand, were wonderful.

    And really? For some people going to a reunion each year would eat up all all the vacation funds/time off work, and you are stuck with a bunch of people you barely know well enough to firmly dislike. Some people are expected to commute across the country to spend time with people who are horrible to them and that is uncalled for.

    Family should never be forced. Otherwise, it’s not really a family. The worst thing my mother ever did was pressure us to start doing reunions with her horrible relatives who she had been estranged with for 20 years. Somewhere between the first and second reunion, I had a firm understanding why she had been estranged with them to begin with, and I feel she really ruined our little family (and her). Such a group of highly dysfunctional over-competitive cult-following control freaks.

    My father’s side wasn’t that much better but I was shielded/unaware from a bulk of it until I was an adult. Fist fights would happen between uncles (and sometimes my dad) over Monopoly. Everyone would spend time criticizing each other behind each other’s backs.

    If I had attachment to any of these people (which I don’t any more), 1 week a year of being shoved in an enclosed space with them would push me over the edge. I care too much for my husband and child to do that to them, and I care too much for myself. It is not selfish. It’s self-preservation.

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