Time to pull on the onesie, heat up the hot chocolate and enjoy some online…
Winter is a great time to prioritise eating together as a family if everyone’s been on their own mission for the first half of the year. It’s time for soups, stews and all the good things! But if you haven’t sat down as a gang together in a while, how about a quick temperature check on topic that could get things hotter than the meal if you’re not careful?
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“I’m pregnant/married/getting divorced”
Family dinner is always the wrong time to make a big announcement of any kind. The fastest way to ignite family tension is to let loose big news and have everyone try and digest it at the same time. Close siblings will want to know why you didn’t give them a heads up first or trust them enough to tell them. Your mother may cry, your father may shout. And, depending on the nature of the announcement, you could negatively impact the health of a grandparent. It’s just not worth it.
Rather: Tell family members big news privately and separately. This will make the news easier to digest and make each family member feel considered and important. It will also lighten the load and line of questioning on your own plate.
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Any family constitutes people of different generations, so their views of politics and climate change are naturally bound to differ. Be wary the chaos caused by the topic of plastic straws, though – this hot global topic can set off some dinner table fireworks. Consider the dynamics: your father thinks corporate South Africa should be dealing with a myriad of more important issues, your mother has boycotted the family’s favourite restaurant because it has no eco-friendly options, your sister wants to be an environmental scientist and your brother just moans about how the straws get soggy after a few sips. Recipe for disaster if you ask us!
Rather: Drink wine or whiskey. It doesn’t require a straw.
So how’s the new job going? Even if you’re not in the mood to tell your folks that you hate it, now is not the time to highlight your sister’s decision to convert to an alternative religion, out your brother for quitting varsity to explore his interest with art or expose your mother’s online shopping addiction. The family fall out will take weeks, if not months, to repair. It sounds obvious, but tread lightly. People have feelings for days!
Rather: Indulge your family. Answer their questions no matter how trivial or annoying they seem. This could be your time to shine.
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Don’t go breaking mamma’s heart
Lamb chops were your favourite as a kid, but now you’re a vegetarian and, well, your mother just can’t seem to accept that. Don’t wait until the meal she’s been prepping for you all day is laid out in front of you to remind mom of your dietary requirements.
Rather: Remind mom (and dad – in case you need backup) the day before that you don’t eat meat and that if it’s an inconvenience, you’re happy to bring an alternative.
Carly has a decade of wild, weird and wonderful experience in the media industry. After graduating from Rhodes University with an honours degree in journalism and politics, she tried to change the world as a journalist. She helped launch the country’s first integrated newsroom at Times Media (then called Avusa). After getting bored of politics and news, she joined forces with a brand activations and event company before joining a global PR agency – WE Worldwide as a Senior Account manager. This is her dream job but she still loves to be fancy with words and interview cool people so she writes for Hello Joburg.