Dear Snarky – My Sister-In-Law’s Family Ruined Christmas

f784f548f08fa691c849dbf4f8b634c1Dear Snarky,

Thank God, I’m finally home after spending Christmas at my sister-in-law’s house. It was a disaster. I’ve never met such a cliquey group of people before. Her entire family separated themselves from the rest of the guests the entire day. If everyone was in the family room they would be in living room. If you tried to mingle with them you would pretty much get ignored. It was unbelievably uncomfortable.

I told my husband I’m never subjecting myself to another Christmas day like that again and while he agreed with me that his brother’s wife relatives are F’ing nuts he told me we just had to deal with it because it’s family.

Umm, it’s not my family and his sister-in-law’s relatives are not his family so I think next year and the year after that etc we can just take a pass on Christmas with this bunch of cold fish.

What do you think Snarky I’m a right?


Still Pissed

Dear Pissed,

The big old extended family get together is one of those things that sounds good in theory, (like buying your pants too small to encourage you to lose weight) but in reality it can be a hot mess (i.e. you now have no pants to wear). Sure it’s supposed to be all Hallmark Channel lovey dovey, but it never seems to work out that way.

And in your case you really were spending time with almost strangers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that if the strangers are open to becoming friends, but it seems your sister-in-law’s family wanted nothing to do with the co-mingling of kin.

That was a long way of me saying that I agree with 100%. Having to experience an awkward Christmas every year is no fun and who made your sister-in-law the Queen of the holidays? Another good questions is why do you have to have Christmas at her house every year? Wouldn’t it be more fair and, dare I say, more fun if it rotated?

I would suggest all this now while the memory of the crappy Christmas is still fresh in everyone’s mind and get some sort of action plan for next year and beyond in place.

Also, because families can have, shall we say, varied interpretations of the facts I would do this all via email so you have a “hard” copy of the discussion. This will serve as evidence so no one next December can pull a “What are you talking about I didn’t agree to this?” stunt. If and when this happens all you will need to do is share the time stamped and dated emails to shut them down.

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Family Fight Night

447f5bbd03ab8d3b1bbb054fba6f9d77Dear Snarky,

I need your help. My new husband’s family is a hot mess. Any family event somehow turns into a competition. Sunday night we went to an Oscar party at my brother-in-law’s house and there was a betting sheet about who would win what. Everyone had to ante up $5 and then predict the winners. By the end of the night there were accusations of cheating, screaming and I was afraid two of my brothers-in-laws were going to punch each other out. Did I mention children were present for this? Another family member will be having a NCAA Basketball Bracket party in a couple of weeks and quite frankly I’m a little scared to go. Do you have any suggestions on how to survive my new family?

Signed, Terrified

Dear Terrified,

Here’s the bad news. You are not going to change this family dynamic. This is all they know and I’m going to guess they kind of like the whole rough and tumble of it all AND see nothing wrong with their behavior. Not to be too much like your husband’s family but I’d bet money if you suggest they bring it down a notch or maybe even have a family get together that doesn’t involve a wager they would think you had the problem not them.

So, here’s my suggestions: First, pick your family encounters very careful. Easter dinner – yes. Easter egg hunt – no because I can see a beat down over who found the most eggs AND I would steer clear of any invites that revolve around a sporting event. Also, if there’s a betting pool simply choose not to participate. Chances are there might be other extended family members and by that I mean those not related by DNA that will gladly follow your lead. Lastly, Buck Up. You’re going to need a backbone to take on and flourish with this bunch. 

If you have a question for Dear Snarky please email me at

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

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Family Reunions – A Journey to Hell

941410_544848272221341_1195667944_nReunions 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 the stuff of great times.  I’m currently enrolled in a 12 step program to recover from a family reunion I attended last week.  You know how some lucky families have their reunions at Disneyworld or the beach?  You get their Christmas card with the whole family 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 to create bouncy volume heretofore only found in Elle magazine cover shoots.  Why, dear Lord, am I not related to those people?

Here’s a little snapshot of my family reunion.  It’s held in a musty church fellowship hall that smells like it does double duty as a skunk rescue and rehab facility in a tiny, habitually dusty town that couldn’t keep a Dollar Tree Store in business.  The most erudite topic of conversation on this Fourth of July weekend was who was hotter Martha Washington or Dolly Madison. (I voted Dolly.)  Everyone is required to bring a covered dish and under no circumstances do you bring something that is not made from scratch or at the very least a Bisquick recipe. Four years ago I stopped off and purchased fried chicken en route to the reunion.  You would have thought I brought in a vegetable that hadn’t been marinated in bacon grease for 24 hours.  Family members were offended that I stooped so low as not to toil in a kitchen pre-reunion breading and frying.  In my defense I gently informed the clan of two things.  I live many, many miles away from the reunion site and I’m here under duress. Another mistake I made this year was carrying in assorted breads in a reusable Costco bag.  I was labeled uppity by some of the great grannies.  Everyone knows Sam’s is the only place to buy in bulk from.  I guess they thought I was two timing on their great love Wal-Mart (father of Sam’s) by stepping out with Costco.  And who are these people to judge me anyway?  The family in charge of beverages brought Diet RC to the reunion not Diet Coke!  Who does that?  Who brings Diet RC anywhere?  I would have been okay with Diet Pepsi (kind of), but who buys Diet RC?  I tell you who – my cheapo extended family.  I was embarrassed and ashamed of them. Good thing I travel with my own stash of emergency Diet Coke.

The whole reunion concept is harrowing. The only good thing that comes out of it is that it serves as a scared straight program for my children. They can see what the future holds when you give in to the pull of  the dark side of your gene pool and barely graduate high school.  I firmly believe that all family reunions should require the use of t-shirts or at that very last name tags that give personality cues such as, “Hi, my name is Eric and I’m the biggest dumb ass in the family” or in my sister’s case, “Becca, stating the obvious since 1969.” My T-shirt would read, “Dear family, please quit reproducing.” This year one distant relative asked me, “Now are you a new wife, because I remember your husband being married to someone prettier?”  My response, “No, it’s just me, older and apparently growing more and more hideous every month. I’m sure next year I’ll need to attend with a grocery bag over my head.”  The worst is the Grandma/Nana contingent quizzing you about your children so they can assure themselves that their grandkids are the superior beings at the reunion. My kids claim to fame; they’re the only ones who don’t use a toothpick as a fashion accessory.  No one taught the majority of these kids that a toothpick doesn’t live in your mouth and under no circumstances should you be running with a toothpick perched between your two lips.  Idiots.

This suffering in no way compares to the finale of the reunion where every “Family Leader” (Translation man with offspring who can coherently string together two sentences after drowning in Bud Light and Jack since 10:30 a.m.) stands up and updates the clan on what his family has been doing the last year.  The C.I.A. should be alerted that a new form of torture has been discovered.  I have no doubt if you gave prisoners the choice of water boarding or enduring these “Family Updates” that water boarding would be enthusiastically embraced as the lesser of these two evils.  Not even the promise of eating lots and lots of pie can dim the pain for me.  You have mostly jackasses standing up sharing everything from who got a new truck to the litany of surgeries and medical ailments that each family member is enduring mixed in with lots of political propaganda and conspiracy theories.  The thing that makes me choke on a toothpick the most is that a majority of these dudes (except my husband known as the family sissy or fancy pants) pretends that they’re hard core country men.  To hear them talk one would think they were out working their ranch lands and herding cattle from sun up to sun down.  They only thing they herd are their multiple TV remotes. They don’t even mow their own damn lawns. This bunch is less redneck and more red velvet necks.  Which means by the end of each manly family monologue I’m usually beating my head against the sticky picnic table.  That is until this year.  This year, I did the Family Update.

When it was close to our turn (they go in alphabetical order) I whispered to my husband that I wanted to do our family update.  He sighed, smiled and said, “I guess that means I should grab the kids and go out and start-up the car for a quick getaway.”  “Yes,” I replied, “A quick getaway will probably be most important.”  He got our kids and my son, just 15, muttered, “Wait a minute, mom’s going to do something crazy.  I want to stay and watch.”  My husband and I looked at one another and I nodded my head that it was okay. He had reached the age where it was safe for him to witness me in all my pot stirring splendor.  My husband told us,”You two better run out of here fast because I’ll leave you both behind before I let this bunch hurt my car.”

We agreed to his terms and set back down to wait our turn.  Finally, my family was called upon. I stood up and said I would being giving my kin’s report due to my husband being indisposed.  After I explained what that word meant I began my update.  I shared that my family, praise be to God, had no medical issues to share (you could feel the disappointment in the air), no new vehicles or guns were purchased and furthermore I was not allowing my son to even buy an airsoft gun because I know, based on DNA, that he would somehow shoot himself in the nuts at close range. My son, responded to this by nodding his head in lackluster agreement.  I have nothing against guns, but I have a lot against idiots with guns. After getting the crowd warmed up to the partial outrage level I began my work to turn up the heat to full-out fury.  That’s when I proclaimed, “I do believe that the moon landing is legit, that 9 11 was the work of terrorists, that the International Space Station is not satan’s celestial lair or a Russian time share being financed with our tax dollars, that George W. Bush is not the greatest president, what, with Lincoln and the first George giving him some very stiff competition. Nor do I find Barack Obama the answer to our prayers. Also, on this Fourth of July weekend I’d like to thank our founding fathers for crafting the legal documents that strip the right to vote from anyone who has been convicted of a felony.  I don’t want to mention names, but y’all  know who you are.”  I was ready for my finale, but I had to make sure my son was in haul butt mode. So, I gave him the signal and blurted out, “And I don’t think Sarah Palin is hot.  Attractive in a run-of-the mill mom at the grocery story kind of way – yes, but hot – no. God Bless America!”  Some of the men were so mad they were clanking in their rusty folding chairs as they tried to stand up and confront me. Lucky for me their astronomical guts slowed down their ability to go from a sitting to standing position.  I grabbed my son by the shirt, pushed him in front of me as a shield, thinking they would be less likely to maim a child and ran for the car.  My husband, always the planner, had two doors already open, we leapt in and he took off.  His car kicking up a storm of gravel and dust as he peeled out.  “Damn it,” I whispered under my breath, “I left my Costco bag behind.  My husband chuckled and said, “They’ll probably burn it in effigy.” I shrugged and my shoulders and replied, “Well,  they’d first have to know what effigy meant.”

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