The first time I met my ex-boyfriend’s grandparents, they invited me over for a traditional Italian meal.
The ex then proceeded to make his grandma to guess my heritage. “Grandma, she’s Polish,” he laughed — as if my blonde hair and near translucent skin didn’t give it away.
“And guess what?” he continued. “She’s not Catholic.”
Cue Grandma swearing under her breath in Italian as I shoved the gnocchi that I had earlier attempted to pronounce with some sort of “g” sound into my mouth — there was no coming back from that one.
More than seven years after that traumatic event, I have yet to eat gnocchi, but I have learned that not all grandparents — or families, for that matter — are created equal.
My family is really tiny. We’re usually four people strong for holiday dinners and I have zero cousins — that math is correct, I promise, though there are lots of second and third cousins scattered throughout the country.
My boyfriend has a big family — grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that seem to all live within a five-mile radius of each other. Thankfully he introduced me slowly.
I met his brother while out and about in downtown Harrisburg. That night the boyfriend drunk dialed his mom and put me on the phone. His parents came a few weeks later where his brother “re-introduced” himself to me in front of his dad in case I “forgot that we met.”
Awesome first impressions.
Since then, there’s been some family parties; a beach vacation with cousins and aunts and uncles; and a few visits from his mom, dad and furry little sister (Sunny, the family dog).
At a recent family reunion, his grandma quickly took me by the arm and made the rounds, introducing me to cousins and aunts and uncles I hadn’t met. His grandpa pulled me in to join a family photo.
They have a way of making me feel like a part of their family — and maybe they’ve been like this with every girlfriend he’s ever had … don’t tell me; just let me feel special. I can joke around with them, be myself and share lots of laughs and hugs. And I’ve come to genuinely care about and love these people who fill the voids in my own family tree.
And that’s how it should be — even when I sometimes slip and pronounce my new favorite Greek food, gyro, with some sort of “g” sound.
My mom always harped on the importance of first impressions, especially when meeting someone’s family for the first time. Not wearing a low-cut shirt, leaving your sailor mouth at home and not making out at the dinner table seem like no-brainers, but but what other tips do you swear by for meeting a boyfriend’s family for the first time? Do you have any horror stories to share? Leave a note in the comments section.