Monday, June 1, 2015

Relatives from Hell by Rolynn Anderson

I’m pleasantly exhausted after a week-long family gathering at my house in California.  Friends lent us their house to bed down six people; the other three stayed with my husband and me.  My house was the center of activity for eleven of us for seven days, together! The success of the event and the even-temperaments of everyone, despite the inevitable conflicts about where to go and when to go…made me remember reunions that weren’t quite so perfect, with the relatives from hell who put the ‘t’ in turmoil.  Are you thinking of one right now?
-the drunk
-the controller
-the loud-mouth contrarian
-the passive aggressive one
-the annoying prankster
-the one who refuses to do anything
-the pouter
-the complainer

My deceased aunt Frances (Frannie), comes to mind - unmarried PE teacher and tap dance instructor, prematurely wrinkled, hair askew, and always racing from one place to another.  A know-it-all; a conniver.  She had to be in charge at every reunion; if it wasn’t her idea, it wasn’t worth a cent.  She used her last will and testament, the promise of an inheritance, to keep her nieces and nephews in line.  I called her on her manipulation tactic; I got none of her tainted money.

The good thing about Fran?  See, I’m an organized, plan-ahead kind of person, so I have to be careful I don’t become the ‘Fran’ of our yearly reunions.  I ask family members ahead of time for activity proposals and once we’re all together, we make sure the schedule is flexible with each person’s interests met.  This takes good listening skills and means the whole group won’t always be together, but everyone has a good time.  And no, I’m not holding out an inheritance as an enticement for my nieces and nephews to be nice to me.  Instead, I give each a certain amount of money at the end of each college term, if their grades are good enough AND they’ve signed up for the next year.

So here’s your chance.  Describe your relative from hell…and the negative lessons she/he taught you.   

And if you want to read about an interesting family dynamic in Petersburg, Alaska, LIE CATCHERS is for you.  Liv has returned to her home town (where her brother is the sheriff) to help her mother save the family business.  

Here are the Amazon and Wild Rose Press buy sites:


Jannine Gallant said...

Our family reunions are extremely infrequent. The last one was in Tahoe, so I stayed at home and showed up at the "group" house only for evenings. No one had time to annoy me, and it's a pretty easy going bunch! Sounds like you had fun with your group without the aunt from hell! LOL

Anonymous said...

Oh, Rolynn, maybe you and I should co-author a comedy about this. My list is too long. When I was growing up we had frequent family get-togethers because my grandmother was one of 11 children and all those cousins lived, at the time, in the NY area. The jealousies, the back-biting…and the fun. The worst was the glamorous cousin (I use the term loosely; she had false eyelashes out to HERE) who kept trying to match me up with her adopted son. Great post. Good luck with the book.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Jannine, I think you're on to something. Small doses of the relatives from hell and we stay sane.

Andi, clearly your crazy relatives gave you some good ideas for characters (villains) and conflict. We probably use our relatives from hell in our that's another positive feature they bring to the table. I've always assumed the the best writers come from tumultuous backgrounds...sounds like you've got lots of stuff to draw on from your family!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

My know-it-all, loud, been there, done that son-in-law. He picks on the little kids until my easy going retired teacher husband, gives him the "teacher look" and says, "that's enough." Then Cal draws the kids together for a story about black holes or some scientific facts. Great post.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Wow, guess you showed Aunt Fran. Congrats on doing that. If it's not genuine, it's not worth it. The secret to surviving family reunions, IMHO is to have your own little haven - room, house or whatever to escape to. It's really all about love. As I always say, love to see 'em come, love to see.'em go!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Vonnie, excellent example...amazing how some adults can bully or tease kids that way. As always, Cal comes to the rescue. Love that man!

Margo, I'm a weirdo. I don't want to miss a thing when my relatives are around. I'm the last in bed and the first up in the a.m. because I HAVE to be a part of the conversation/fun. We laugh like hyenas...constantly...such fun!

Ashantay said...

I'm a loner, so large family gatherings are something I avoid. Not that our family is so large anymore, but when I was a kid, I got sick every Christmas and so missed being with my cousins. Getting a new Nancy Drew book every year had nothing, I repeat, nothing, to do with my seasonal ailments.

Rolynn Anderson said...

I understand, Ashantay. My husband watches my family's antics, often from afar...and goes into the office when we get too loud. (He's interested in the food ;-) He has one older brother and comes from a stoic Norwegian family...waaayyy quiet. We marry our opposites, don't we?

Leah St. James said...

I'm starting to feel deprived! I don't think we've ever had a family reunion, either my family's or hubby's. (I mean, funerals don't count...right? Haha?) Sounds like you handle yours perfectly though, Rolynn!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Interesting you should mention funerals. Oddly, our most 'together' events (I dare say, fun) happened first, my dad's funeral, and then, my mothers. They wouldn't have wanted those gatherings to be any way but exuberant...and we were! That's where I got my idea for the boutique funeral planner series!

Unknown said...

Our family members got along pretty well when I was growing up, but there were always oddities. I didn't realize until I was an adult how much my dad's mom hated my mother. She was never going to be good enough for her little boy. When my mom and dad were divorced, I'm sure she did an evil little happy dance!

Diane Burton said...

I just spent a week with my sister who drives me crazy. I don't know why we rub each other the wrong way. Know-it-all, controller, takes charge thereby not letting others help. We keep saying "she means well" but it's hard to take in large doses.

I wouldn't mind a reunion. The only time most of us get together is funerals and sometimes weddings.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Susabelle, maybe it's better you didn't know. Divorces are hard enough. But grandmothers are supposed to be perfect...what happened?

Diane, my sister has some of my own traits...I love her dearly, but it's like a look in the mirror!