Clark Griswold: Socially Excellent

by Josh Orendi

clark-griswaldSocial Excellence is about more than how we interact with strangers. Sometimes those closest to us are the most difficult to connect with.  For my dysfunctional family that includes a mother-in-law that called off Thanksgiving, a mending relationship with an aunt I pissed off last year, and an inevitably awkward holiday meal with distant relatives that I’m forced to see every few years.  I’m guessing you can relate.

This year, I’m making a renewed commitment to social excellence.  It’s sort of a social experiment and a personal test.  I’ve resolved to go into the holidays prepared to drop my guard (be vulnerable), offer a positive/proactive attitude (read: no rolling eyes, butt-out hugs, or sarcastic whispers to my sister about grandma’s boyfriend), create conversations where I’m genuinely curious about them, and know that my family deserves at least as much of my time/energy as I give my friends/business/brothers.

In an ode to the captain of all dysfunctional families, I’d like to suggest that we all embrace our inner Clark Griswold.  Clark may not be socially excellent, but I can’t think of another character that tries harder.  Someone once told me that tragedy + time = humor.  I’m feeling a renewed holiday spirit as I’ve been reflecting the last few days on how I can make the most of the upcoming days I’ll have with loved ones in Pittsburgh.  Like Clark, I’m eager to light up the neighborhood (metaphorically) by bringing a better version of me to the dinner table.

I’d love to hear your stories and socially excellent experiments, too.