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
Zune Docks Kicker Home Audio December 28, 2010, 3:37 AM

Oh man. This blog site is cool! How do you make it look like this ?

quotes about life December 28, 2010, 3:13 PM

Just wanted to say thnx for a great site and Merry X-mas & Happy New Year.

Computer monitors December 29, 2010, 1:49 AM

Good day! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy reading through your posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same topics? Thanks for your time!

search engine optimization services December 29, 2010, 3:08 AM

rather helpful stuff, on the whole I imagine this is worthy of a book mark, thank you

Pro Affiliate December 30, 2010, 11:55 PM

Victory would go to the gamer whom helps make the next-to-last mistake.

buy cheap wow gold January 4, 2011, 4:53 PM

God this post was so good it distracted me from wow haha, I need to make some more wow gold now ! amazing post anyway.

Barbara James January 8, 2011, 5:01 AM

As far as me being a member here, I didnt even know that I was a member here. When the article was published I received a notification, so that I could participate in the discussion of the post, That would explain me stumbuling upon this post. But we’re certainly all members in the world of ideas.

See you on the trail!

boston vacation rentals January 8, 2011, 1:04 PM

It may be raining when you visit, but if you book an inn with an in-room fireplace, it wont matter. I say go to Mar Vista. Ask Renata (the owner) what my favorite cottages are (I cant remember off the top of my head). If I were proposing, Id go there.

my site January 9, 2011, 12:37 AM

After I start your Feed it appears to be to be a ton of nonsense, is the issue on my side?

Rebecca Ho January 13, 2011, 12:18 PM

It seems too advanced and very broad for me to understand.

Annie Pennington January 15, 2011, 2:45 AM

Great article, had no problems printing this page either.

porn teen January 17, 2011, 9:55 AM

Hello there, You’ve done an excellent job. I’ll definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am sure they’ll be benefited from this website.

Annika January 18, 2011, 8:23 AM

I like this weblog very much so much great info .

traders international scam January 21, 2011, 10:16 AM

Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again - taking you feeds also, Thanks.

squamous cell cancer January 21, 2011, 4:10 PM

Squamous cell skin cancer is the most second kind of carcinoma in the world.

squamous cell cancer January 21, 2011, 4:43 PM

Squamous cell skin cancer is the most second kind of carcinoma in the world.

russian dating service January 22, 2011, 12:14 AM

surprisingly beneficial stuff, all in all I picture this is worthy of a book mark, many thanks

Ukash January 22, 2011, 4:06 PM

Superukash Türkiye %100 Yasal hem ucuz hem guvenli Ukash Kart satışı yapmaktadır. Ucuz ukash, ukash, ukash al, ukash destek.

Ukash January 22, 2011, 4:07 PM

Superukash Türkiye %100 Yasal hem ucuz hem guvenli Ukash Kart satışı yapmaktadır. Ucuz ukash, ukash, ukash al, ukash destek.

Back to top >>