After hours of travel, you walk in the front door hoping to put your bag down. Instead, you're greeted by an extensive list of questions from your Aunt Gladys about all aspects of your life. This is beyond the third degree. It's the fourth degree. What are you doing with your life? Are you seeing anyone? What was the last meal you ate? Are you still living the same place? Who were your last three sexual partners? Apparently, there isn't a single question that's off limits. She seems to be getting all the exposition out of the way up top, and even though you're expecting it, you're never really prepared.
Now that she knows about your present, it's time to learn about your future. Armed with only the broad list of facts about your life that she got in the conversation before, Aunt Gladys proceeds to systematically destroy every facet of yourself that you thought to be true. She keeps pressing on until you finally lay out all of your hopes and dreams, then pinpoints all your insecurities and lists off a reason why your dreams probably won't come true. It probably comes from a good place, but it just leaves you feeling emotionally wrecked.
Oh god. OH GOD. There's an elephant in the room and everyone knows it. We all know the topics we're not supposed to bring up and for the most part, everyone behaves. That said, there are a lot of those topics and it's hard not to at least come into close proximity of one. You get politics adjacent and everyone tenses up. You're like the captain of the Titanic who's just spotted an iceberg. Thankfully, unlike the real Titanic, you manage to avoid catastrophe, but things could have gone very, VERY, badly.
After a couple of hours together it becomes quite apparent that you and Aunt Gladys don't have a lot in common, so she starts grasping at straws from the past. Remember that conversation you two had a year ago that went over okay? You don't? Oh, well she sure does and she's going to bring it up again. The topicality of the convo has long since past, but Aunt Gladys seems to think that this all you've thought about for the entire year. You nod your head and pretend like you're interested, but the truth is you don't have a lot to contribute.
You and Aunt Gladys may not know each other very well, but you DO share a lot of mutual acquaintances: Your family! Rather than trying to bond with each other, you instead turn to shitting on them. It may not be great for whatever cousin you're making fun of, but, hey, it's common ground. Besides, isn't getting dirt on your family what the holidays are all about?
Day turns to night and the wine starts flowing. Everyone starts loosening up a bit, and, holy shit, you're actually enjoying yourself! Now that you both have a little buzz in you, you remember that Aunt Gladys is actually really cool! For the first time since you got here, you're not struggling to make conversation. Words are coming easily to you and you start to feel really close to your aunt....At least until...
The double edge sword of the wine. All those topics you've been tiptoeing around all day? Well you guys just stepped right smack dab in the middle of a big one and now all hell's about to break loose. You'd like to let it go, you really would. Unfortunately, Aunt Gladys just said she was thankful for the guy who bombed that abortion clinic and you can't let that shit slide. The drunken screaming match that ensues is fueled with a rage that you didn't know you had in you. The fact that the two of you share the same DNA makes your anger that much more intense.
The morning after, everything's a little awkward, but you guys are family so you have to find a way to get on. You sit next to each other as the TV blares and silently enjoy each other's company. No words are exchanged but the love is there. It's the best conversation you have your entire visit.