Note: Characters are fictitious. Any similarity to a person alive, dead, in rehab, in my family or in the house down the street with the pink shutters, is purely unintentional.
Dysfunctional family holidays are all the rage. If your relatives don’t always mesh, and you’d like to brighten your nerve wracking events, try…
The “HAVE A HAPPY DYSFUNCTIONALHOLIDAY” Game
Object of the Game: To keep everyone together in one room without getting hurt.
Players (pick any number): 1 Pair of Grandparents, 1 Outspoken Male and 1 Fainting Male, 1 Texting Teen, 1 Alcoholic in Treatment, 1 Emotional Eater, 1 Angelic Child, 1 Confrontational Female, 1 Quiet Female, 1 Mr. Manners, 1 Single Parent and 1 Dog
Decks of Cards: OFFEND OTHERS, WHAT TO SERVE FOR DINNER
When all seems lost…SPIN THE ARROW for Stress-Relieving Suggestions.
The board is separated into 4 rooms (you can substitute yours): The Living Room with the T.V. for distraction, the Basement, the Kitchen where the grandparents always sit because they can’t get out of the living room furniture and the Porch for smokers and (sometimes) Dog.
Sample (Fictional) Scenario: The players start by sitting in various rooms. The Alcoholic in Treatment will draw first from the OFFEND OTHERS deck. His reads his card outloud, “TALK ABOUT SOMETHING GROSS” and he starts explaining, in great, graphic detail, about his recent strip search. This will cause Mr. Manners to leave the room to join the grandparents in the kitchen and the Fainter to turn lily white and drop to the floor. The Emotional Eater retreats to the kitchen, straps on the feed-bag and eats from it like a mare. Angelic Child tries to get the Confrontational Female (CF) attention, but CF) is only interested in the Dog (and says so). The Texting Teen exits to the basement for privacy.
SPIN THE ARROW for a Stress Relief Suggestion to try to bring them back together. It lands on Alcohol Time, which makes the grandparents very fun. They start talking about recent colonoscopies and the necessary preparations. Ooops! Fainter hits the deck again and when he regains consciousness goes to the porch for a smoke, while Mr. Manners, now slightly intoxicated and slightly less uptight stays seated. Alcoholic in Treatment joins the Fainter on the porch to avoid the temptation. Emotional Eater badly needs a drink, but doesn’t want to hurt her gall-bladder.
Outspoken Male draws from the OFFEND OTHERS deck. He reads his card, “Burp out Loud” and does so, causing Mr. Manners to twitch, change colors and change rooms again. Texting Teen and CF laugh in mocking amusement. Alcoholic in Treatment has the power to burp “at will”…and does…which causes Mr. Manners to LOSE it, and temporarily exit the party.
Everyone draws from the WHAT TO SERVE FOR DINNER cards. Angelic Child draws a “Sweet Potato” card and the dish goes in the oven. However, one of the grandparents drew “Turn the oven up for your own dish without telling anyone” card from the OFFEND OTHERS deck and the sweet potatoes go up in flames. A Fruitcake card is shyly drawn next by Quiet Female and everyone scatters. A quick SPIN THE ARROW for a Stress Relief Suggestion and Hookah Pipe time and the entire room is finally mellow. Single Parent, swirling, takes 15 minutes to open her napkin.
The drawing of the WHAT TO SERVE FOR DINNER cards produces 3 dishes that everyone can eat with various stomach ailments and vegetarian preferences: Beets, Lemon Juice and Meatloaf. CF uses her OFFEND OTHERS card (“Break the ‘No Feeding the Dog from the Table’ rule) and while everyone is finally seated, offers Dog her meatloaf. The grandparents push away from the table and ask for their coats.
SPIN THE ARROW for a Stress Relief Suggestion again and it’s Sing-A-Long Time. This throws the Emotional Eater into a feeding frenzy. No one sings, but Angelic Child is pressured by the grandparents to play the piano. Emotional Eater instead turns on music channel cable and the effect is soothing and draws everyone near. The lights are dimmed and the Christmas tree shines. At last, all is calm with everyone ‘high’ and equally offended.
Happy Dysfunctional Holidays to all!