As is the social custom, I’ve just spent a large amount of time with family members over the holidays. This year, a large portion of that time was spent feeling awkward and out of place. I think I’ve reached that stage where I’m in a social no man’s land. I’m not old enough for the older adults to talk to and I’m just past the age cutoff to participate in the conversation with my niece and nephew and their significant others. On Thanksgiving, it isn’t a big deal because there’s plenty of football to watch. There’s no gridiron action on Christmas though. Instead, there’s the continuous looping broadcast of A Christmas Story. I love that movie, but I’d rather get whacked in the nuts with a soup ladle than pretend I’m interested in watching it for the eighth time in a row.
I can remember numerous times in the past when I would try to add to conversations only to have my comments hang in the silence for a moment and fall to the ground unacknowledged. Few things make me feel like I have DUMBASS tattooed on my forehead more than that does, so I’ve learned the value of just sitting back and listening. I’ve embraced my role as the perpetual audience member, moving through the gathering and using nonverbal responses and body language to encourage the conversations to continue. Even in no man’s land, I try to do my part to make sure everyone around me has a good time.
My enjoyment of people-watching keeps me entertained. That and a steady supply of alcohol.