twitter facebook stumble upon rss

The Holiday Time Machine: Family

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This
Dr. Wendy Walsh: It will be dark and cold. There will be crowded airports, sweating throngs, pat-downs and whining toddlers. There will be bad airplane food and lack of sleep. But at the end of the journey, my kids and I will be met with pairs of eyes that squint in shared formation. People who carry our genes. Family.

Family dinner
Holidays bring a specific form of stress. Getting together with relatives is the closest thing we have to a time machine. At holiday tables, we are strapped in our seats by the centrifugal force of old family systems -- a world we'd ventured away from years ago, never thinking about a return ticket. Slammed back in time, the favored child still gets a wink from Mom, though his graying hair and paunch suggest a lost luster. The sister-to-sister sibling rivalry finds a modern battle as polite mothers now shoot competing stories of their children's accomplishments.

The clash of social class is epic. Decades of movement up or down networks of human ladders erupt over brands of mustard, types of lettuce or beverages. Dijon, arugula and Cabernet strike condescending blows at cousins who wash down iceberg and American yellow mustard with a frosty malt. The end of unemployment insurance seems a more patriotic conversation than environmental dangers, as one camp focuses on practicality and another on ideals, all designed to advertise social class. The family holiday rendezvous is a bid to flaunt the colors of our new world and a desperate attempt to avoid slipping into a familiar trance of the old planet. But it rarely works.

The powers of family psychological systems are like kryptonite, disabling our most sophisticated mental strategies. But we still go. We make the pilgrimage. At least, most of us do. Others avoid. The characters played by Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon in the film "Four Christmases" plan a yearly tropical vacation continents away from their families. Other folks drown in work. Still others dip in for a quick drink or meal and then jet off, unscathed by anything more than small talk.

Many who avoid family attempt to play catch-up years later at deathbeds and beside tombstones. But not us. We are the brave ones who climb into the time machine. And we do it for good reason. We do it because most of our families render us powerless to pretend, yet empower us with something else. The safety of a biological connection. We share genes, we share childhoods, we share pheromones, we share humor, we share love. This shared sense of belonging is the reason that we will bust our bank accounts to fly to the wedding of our crazy brother who is marrying a girl on a mountain in Mongolia. It's why we open our homes to cousins. It's why we spend hours cooking for people we haven't talked to face-to-face in a year. Because they are us.

When we are in their company, we are reminded of our familiar beginnings. There is some feeling of security in that. And if there were many old blows and injuries, we can also use this time to make right. To process more. Or simply to grieve the losses. Seeing a formerly abusive father, now old and weakened by alcohol, we can tend to the child in us whose childhood losses were so tragic. And we can look through the eyes of an adult at our tragic perpetrator and maybe even have compassion for his flaws.

We are all flawed people. And we live in an imperfect world. But in the presence of our family, we can have a feeling of belonging. Through the strengths of our family, we are reminded of the good in us. And through their flaws, we are given unique opportunities to mourn and forgive.

next: The Pill: Friend or Foe?
640 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen Wynans December 7, 2010, 4:06 AM

Keep functioning ,great job!

Carlee Apperson December 12, 2010, 6:48 PM

Hello. impressive job. I did not expect this. This is a fantastic story. Thanks!

used jets December 13, 2010, 9:03 PM

Very efficiently written article. It will be beneficial to anyone who usess it, including yours truly :). Keep doing what you are doing - i will definitely read more posts.

Here December 14, 2010, 7:02 AM

Nice post, have you got an RSS feed I can subscribe to?

data entry jobs December 14, 2010, 1:33 PM

Very efficiently written post. It will be beneficial to anybody who usess it, including myself. Keep up the good work - for sure i will check out more posts.

Marian Koskie December 14, 2010, 8:49 PM

I have been examinating out some of your posts and i can claim pretty nice stuff. I will definitely bookmark your site.

Mariko Sobie December 14, 2010, 11:43 PM

Very nice post, thank you so much for sharing. Do you have an RSS feed I can subscribe to?

Shon Cohagan December 15, 2010, 5:14 PM

I like this post a lot. I will definitely be back. Hope that I will be able to read more insightful posts then. Will be sharing your knowledge with all of my associates!

Body Tattoo December 15, 2010, 11:43 PM

You’ll have not supposed to take action, but I believe you will have managed to specific the frame of mind that a lot of people are in. The sense of wanting to help, but not figuring out how or the place, is something loads of us are going through.

online auction sites December 16, 2010, 1:54 AM

You completed various nice points there. I did a search on the topic and found nearly all folks will have the same opinion with your blog.

Leland Denenberg December 16, 2010, 1:00 PM

My mom and I would like to develop a blog a lot this for our internet website, I stumbled across world wide web attempting to discover ideas on the theme in addition to page layout. I am taking some coding course in college nonetheless specific that I would capacity to develop a blog for instance this one just yet. Did you code internet site all by yourself or use a professional?

used jets December 16, 2010, 2:26 PM

You completed a few good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most persons will agree with your blog.

nike jordan 17 December 18, 2010, 12:13 AM

Consider other men’s troubles.That will comfort yours.Menander, Ancient Athenian playwriter

nike jordan 3 shoes December 18, 2010, 1:28 PM

Do as you would be done by.Doing is better than saying.

Leonarda Paulina December 19, 2010, 1:17 AM

great article, thanks for sharing

8a contractors December 19, 2010, 2:10 PM

I have been checking out many of your posts and it’s pretty good stuff. I will make sure to bookmark your blog.

jordan 22 for sale December 20, 2010, 7:14 AM

A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.A good conscience is a soft pillow.

Venapro December 22, 2010, 5:01 PM

Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It’s very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

Maranda Hollingsworth December 24, 2010, 5:18 AM

Most what I read online is trash and copy paste but your blog is different. Keep it like this and dont sell out!

designer jeans December 28, 2010, 1:00 AM

You completed a few fine points there. I did a search on the matter and found a good number of people will agree with your blog.

Back to top >>