Summertime is also dreaded family reunion season

From gossiping aunties to burnt burgers, family reunions are our favourite sunny nightmares

Art by Rachel De Freitas

Art by Rachel De Freitas

Neverending days, beach tans, and irritating mosquitos — ahh, summertime. With these scorching hot days also comes the dreaded family reunions. 

It’ll begin with the “invitation,” which is just two people texting and calling back and forth who are the only ones who want to do the family reunion. If they create a group chat, you’re ruined. You’ll be bombarded with never ending messages from barely a tenth of the forty people in said chat. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll be added to the smaller, more select chain between the tolerable members of the family. You’ll laugh about the uncle who thinks he’s the “man,” the aunt who always adds raisins to everything, and the cousin who somehow managed to get out of this mess. If you aren’t added to the smaller group chat, I hate to break it to you but you’re the problem honey. 

I keep seeing TikToks and Instagram Reels about “plans finally making it out of the group chat.” I don’t want these plans to make it out of the group chat, and neither does most of the family. Eventually, grandma will pull the “I’m old, so we’re doing this reunion” card, or someone will get upset that no one cares — which we don’t, so that’s fair. 

The reunion will be held in the randomest park far away from everyone except one person, or in the smallest backyard known to humanity. You’ll have bought a new outfit and gotten dolled up in preparation of the judgey stares, but it will all have been for nothing as everyone else showed up in jeans. 

Somehow lurking in every corner, you’ll find the aunties whose lifeline is gossip. They’ll draw you in with their forced smiles and hugs that definitely fracture a few ribs. The aunties can go toe to toe with mosquitos on irritability and their ability to draw blood, but there is one upside — mosquitos don’t harass you for information. 

“What are you doing these days?” they’ll ask, as if they haven’t already sucked all of the information they can from their kids, and somehow, your private social media accounts. 

“Ah, just in school, aunty,” you’ll say as you go on to explain your program, but they stop listening if it isn’t engineering, health sciences, or business. The response is even worse if you’re studying something like English. Shout out to all my English majors for taking one for the team. 

Wherever the conversation may lead, the aunties will always lead back to their kids’ accomplishments. 

“My daughter graduated top of her class in April, and she even finished the program in just three years,” the aunties will brag.

“Your daughter also got arrested last week for public indecency, but I guess we’re just ignoring that now,” you’ll want to say, but won’t because your mother raised you better than that, mostly. 

You’ll find the dads, or really any man who’s trying to prove how manly and masculine he is, hovering around the grill. A typical grill can comfortably allow two people to grill at once, but would it really be a barbeque if 15 people weren’t all trying to prove their grill “skills” at once? The burgers will always end up burnt, but you’ll give your compliments to the “chef” nevertheless, while also making a mental note to stop at McDonald’s on the way home. 

After the aunties and uncles, that leaves one group — the children, divided into two categories, the bratty toddlers or the pungent teenagers. The toddlers will beg to use your phone to play games, run between everyone’s legs, and wreak havoc while their parents pour another glass. 

The teenagers, however, are more sophisticated and can at least have a conversation, yet cannot take a shower or invest in some deodorant. The smell of this group is often pungent, so masks or a distance of six feet is recommended. 

However, if you’re fortunate, or unfortunate depending on your stance, sometimes you’ll luck out with the overpowering Axe body spray, layered over the smell of dead bodies. I’m not really sure which is worse, because quite frankly, both make me want to dig my own grave. 

Finally, you’ll spot your favourite cousin who’s also avoiding any interaction with everyone else. You’ll both catch up in the corner and fill each other in on your less than adventurous lives. 

Family reunions are the path to an early death. Be that by the tantalizing conversations, air quality, or the vomit-like casserole no one has touched out of fear. Despite all of this, they are an important summer experience that supplies memories both good and bad, but mostly bad. Say hi to your aunties at the next reunion for me!