While perusing the Internet for something which would spark my interest for a new blog entry, I came across an article which discusses in rather dull details the new rules for hosting a party. Not that I host many parties which are not geared towards children’s birthday parties and the like but I still clicked through the slides. I nodded my head as the phrase “well, duh” ran through my head several times until I clicked on the last slide. It said that a party or large group gathering was not the place to make an engagement or other major life event. And blaring into the forefront of my memory was the year my husband and I decided to announce our pregnancy at our first (and only) joint family Thanksgiving.
We were at my in-laws house and I had decided that Mike should make the announcement since it was a majority of his family who would be there. Granted, I did have 4 members of my own family there but, to be honest, I didn’t want the pressure. We thought at dessert would be the best time, since we would all still be sitting at the table but as people were finishing their pies, Mike still hadn’t broached the subject at all. I knew he could feel me nudging him with my foot, gradually harder and harder, underneath the table and giving him the stink eye. He avoided eye contact and even scooted his chair away so my foot could no longer reach him. I thought he would take chance when we went around the table and said what we were thankful for, but no, instead he said he was thankful for the delicious meal.
Growing more and more impatient as the families began to shift conversation and get up and leave, I gave him the look which clearly meant, “if you don’t tell them soon, we aren’t leaving together.”
He did understand the look and deciding on the appropriate break in the conversation, waited for his cousin to complete a rather amusing story about speeding truckers on his road trip across the states. Mike started his announcement with the words (and I will never forget them) “So, speaking of speeding truckers,” and then proceeded to announce the pregnancy.
The moments of utter silence which followed were TERRIBLE. Now, I suppose there might have been some confusion about how speeding truckers did relate to a pregnancy but it still didn’t account for the fact that the twelve people who sat there silently staring. I mean not a word. Probably seeing the look of frustration and embarrassment creeping up my face, the cousin finally stood, embraced me and then offered his congratulations. What followed was a bunch of half-hearted congratulations even from the soon to be grandparents.
Now, I chalk this up to a couple of factors and will explain why no one should do this type of thing if they wish to avoid a situation like this.
1. Don’t make private announcements, even to family, if all people at the table don’t know each other very well.
Example: If neither party knows how the other is going to react, they might not want to be the first ones to say something.
2. If you still choose to make the announcement, make sure that you have clear guidelines about what key phrases are the right lead in for your announcement.
Example: If announcing an engagement, don’t use the newly divorcee’s court date conversation as a lead in by saying “speaking of dates.” This is most certainly worse than the “Speaking of speeding truckers.”
3. If an important announcement still has to be made in the large group, try to do some reconnaissance first. Find out how each group will react as covertly as possible. If, for any reason, you think perhaps they won’t react the same way, perhaps abandon the idea of telling them all together. It would be better to have to make the announcement twice rather than being able to hear a pin drop a half a mile away.
Example: If after telling one family that someone you know is pregnant and they react with a “oh, when are you guys going to have one?” then it’s safe to say that they are in favor. If the response, for either of sets, is something along the lines of “oh, they are too young to have children” then perhaps find a more discreet time to tell them.
4. Be prepared for the worst kind of reaction to the news which you thought was positive. Have notes on hand for icebreakers and if you are like me, have them be quirky and sarcastic. Mind as well get a few laughs (even if they are just your own) in there.
Example: “Oh, I’m sorry, did we just announce a pregnancy or the invasion of earth?
“Clearly there was not enough wine served before we made that announcement!”
“Quick, back in the time machine! We will wait to announce it when people are more ready to receive it.”
Ok, so the quirky and sarcastic remarks aren’t all that clever, but the last two could be used for any kind of announcement. Basically, I guess it boils down to know your audience and know your material. Otherwise, you could end up with an embarrassing sequence of events like these women had here when they thought they were going to see a funny story on the history of pirates. At least my embarrassing moment wasn’t quite like theirs, though admittedly I think the author handled it better than most.