To my mind, there are 3 types of attitude which people have towards family events.
Category A: People who live for these events and will sacrifice anything else in their lives to make sure they are able to attend & will go to extreme lengths, committing unholy amounts of time and money to make these events memorable.
Category B: You make the effort to go if you’re free, but you sort of feel guilty about missing most of these occasions because other things still happen and the world doesn’t stop turning because there’s a party happening somewhere.
Category C: You can’t stand these occasions & will go out of your way to avoid going to these events. You will deliberately book yourself up so you have an excuse not to go.
I place myself in category B, which, like me, is the most socially awkward of the categories. Last weekend, I found myself in the unusual position of being able to got to the Christening of my cousins latest addition to the family. Because I’ve missed so many events in the past, it’s frankly incredible they remember to invite me to these things at all. They’ve given up inviting me to family barbecues anyway, which – given my previous form – is absolutely fair enough.
So I sneak into the church as undetected as possible and sit through the ceremony. And I realise that no matter how expected it is, however much you mentally prepare yourself for it, no sound is quite as stressful as a baby screaming. It should be expected at a christening, but the screaming wasn’t coming from the tiny human at the front having holy water thrown mercilessly in her face (she didn’t make a sound the whole day), it was coming from the ever so slightly bigger human in the arms of a couple (who I hoped were its parents), who had turned up 15 minutes late and were in no way subtle about it. They also stuck out like a sore thumb as the only people in the church who were wearing jeans and t-shirts. I found this ruder than if they hadn’t turned up at all.
After the usual relief at not bursting into flame for daring to step into a church, came the reception. Is it still called a reception for a Christening? I’m pretty sure it’s not called a wake. Maybe its just a party… Anyway, I digress. This “Reception” was not being held at a pub. It was not being held at a restaurant. It wasn’t even in a hired function room. It was at someones house. A holiday let for the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice house, but for in excess of 60 guests, perhaps not all that practical. So I tiptoed around trying my hardest not to tread on anyone’s feet and saying “hi” to people I didn’t recognise but should probably be quite well acquainted with. They clearly didn’t recognise me either, answering with a cautious “hello?” but the look on their faces screaming “who the bloody hell is this?!”
After this, I decided to walk towards some more slightly familiar faces. The first question I get asked is “so hows the wedding planning going?” To which the only suitable reply I can muster is “yeah, its kind of on hold since we broke up a few weeks ago.” With an awkwardly shocked face, that Aunt walks away in embarrassment. Next is an Uncle who asks “so where is your lovely lady?”… This happens 5 or 6 times over the next quarter of an hour, by which time I feel like I have made enough people want to tear their face off, so rather than standing in the corner keeping myself to myself like lube at a funeral and making anyone who looks in my direction even more uncomfortable, I make my excuses and leave.
Maybe I should consider becoming category C, for everyone’s sake.