Family Get-togethers

I know that this site is supposed to be uplifting and fun, but I am feeling a little bit down on us since this past weekend. I mentioned some of this to Dan. Here goes:

I know that when we lived together all the time we mostly just did our things and at meals together and every now and then had some organized, planned family activity. That was fine because we could see each other every day. But now when we’re together in the same place it’s a rare occurrence, and I’d like our time to be better spent, more memorable.

This past weekend we had basically two days together. But we didn’t do a single thing all together. Dave, Dan, and I (and sometimes Dad) played some Baseketball and some Uruguayan Horse, which was great. I really enjoyed it. And Dave, Dad, and Mom all played with Pato and Adi some. And Kathleen and Karina went out shopping together. And we ate meals together and had nice conversations. And all those things were good. But I would have liked to do something all together. I am especially keen on all-together activities because Karina is still somewhat shy/aloof/whathaveyou. She doesn’t really like to do sports with us men (and who can blame her). And we talk so fast and interruptingly at meals that she rarely pipes in.

My idea in the past has always been to try and get everyone around the table to play a board game (if we can’t get out and go somewhere together). I figure that it’s something at least moderately enjoyable for everyone. The main motivation behind this is not to play a game or to win or anything. It’s to have a backdrop for interaction/conversation. How is this different from a meal? I don’t know, but Karina usually feels more comfortable playing a game and talking.

At Christmas, some of you let me know that you didn’t enjoy me telling everyone that they had to play. So this Easter, I decided not to tell anyone what they had to do. I’d just keep my mouth shut and wait to see what fun family activities other people suggested. When I got impatient, I sometimes suggested things I was going to do and invited others to join me (if they were so inclined). That’s how some of the things I did with part of the family got started (and how some of us went with Dan to take some photos). And, granted, Karina was also hard to motivate, and so some things fell through. But they sometimes fell through because people were off doing their own thing, waiting until everyone else was ready. I don’t have to tell you how things get delayed when everyone is waiting for everyone else.

But the deeper problem, the most disappointing thing, is that nobody else ever suggested an activity that we could all do. It was like, Hey, great to see you! What a beautiful new baby! (hugs). I’m going to go do my taxes!

Now, I know I have my defects, and I realize that playing games and stuff doesn’t involve my children (it’s hard to think of something we can all do, including the kids). But come one, people. Don’t we want to spend time together anymore? Can’t we find something we like doing all together, even if it’s not everyone’s favorite activity? I expect that we’ll be all together less and less. What a shame it would be if even that time together was spent boringly.

PatrickIdeas04/13/04 6 comments


Dan • 04/15/04 11:41 AM:

I think you’re right. We didn’t do anything besides eat together, but now that you wrote all the stuff we did do, I think we did quite a bit. And you even left off Easter Egg dying.

The only time we get together to play a game is after you pick at us and we cave. I don’t think anybody is really annoyed by that, at least, I’ve never been. You may get resistance and bickered at, but it works and nobody cares afterwards. You know what it takes to motivate everybody and you usually do that. That said, I agree that it’s sort of sad that nobody else suggested an activity to do. I think this post is good because it will motivate someone (everyone?) else to get off his/her butt and round the troops for some super-awesome-duper No Respect or something.

In defense of myself, like it or not, a big reason I came home was to do my taxes. If I didn’t come home I would have been really screwed. If I didn’t start them on Sunday night I would have been screwed. So, sorry. Sometimes you just have crappy priorities.

Patrick • 04/15/04 1:25 PM:

But the things we did were things only some of us did. I’m talking about getting everybody involved. I am sorry, Dan, that I didn’t help you do your taxes when I was in Chicago (like I said I would). That would have alleviated things a bit.

By the way, can anyone figure out why “Matrix Reloaded” is a related entry? I can’t.

Dad • 04/15/04 9:57 PM:

I enjoyed having everyone home immensely, and I always do. As far as I’m concerned, we don’t have to do anything “special” because just having you around is special. As Dan pointed out, he wanted some help/support in doing his taxes, and he know I was also interested in the “self-employed” tax issues. Kathleen also brought tax work home, as well as David. Meanwhile, I hadn’t finalized my taxes either, and April 15 is a firm deadline.

Of course it’s great to get everyone involved in the same activities whenever possible. However, I don’t believe the negatively-tinged reflection you posted helps much (aside from the fact that our family tends to brush aside the negativity and focus on the message). One can’t force camaraderie or meaningful/memorable events; they tend to occur spontaneously. I think a better approach would be to praise everyone for coming home and being a part of our family Easter experience. In that vein, thanks everyone. You made my weekend, and I appreciate everything you did to accommodate he needs of others in the family. I had fun, had some good discussions, felt useful in advising you on tax matters, and was left wanting more. I complained about each of you coming and leaving on different days, but this was mostly a good-natured tease. I wish you all could have stayed longer, and I look forward to the next time any of us can get together.

Patrick • 04/16/04 1:59 PM:

There goes Dad again, displaying his Zen-like serenity. Look, I had a lot of fun too, but what I’m saying is we tend to just sit around a lot, and us men tend to like and do the same things (look at this site, for example), which means we don’t do much with the women, and that is too bad. Maybe we should try to find more things that everyone likes to do, and do those things together. Kind of optimize liked-ness and people-involved for our activities.

AJ • 04/16/04 9:13 PM:

I think David would say you have issues with having Maddens do what you want them to.

David • 04/19/04 1:34 PM:

I agree with everybody (except aj). I enjoyed my time at home very much. It definitely is tough to get everybody together and it’s tough to balance the desire to have spontaneity while not feeling forced into a game or something. I loved playing with Pato and Adi and seeing Sara. They are tons of fun. I also loved seeing everybody and doing good things. That said, I agree that there’s too often a gender split within the family.

PS - Mulleted Dad is #1

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