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
Respiratory syncytial virus February 7, 2011, 2:11 PM

I think this is one of the most important information for me. And i am glad reading your article. But want to remark on some general things, The site style is wonderful, the articles is really great : D. Good job, cheers

web design February 7, 2011, 2:31 PM

Hey there dear sir, great site!

soul silver codes February 7, 2011, 5:12 PM

Would you be inquisitive about exchanging links?

Megabus Promotion Code February 7, 2011, 5:39 PM

Man I love your post and it was so fabulous and I am gonna save it. I Have to say the Indepth analysis this article has is trully remarkable.No one goes that extra mile these days? Bravo. Just another tip you shouldget a Translator Application for your Worldwide Readers !

Kristie Kasserman February 7, 2011, 6:11 PM

this is cool, i never thought about this kind of stuff before.

Magan Mcgrann February 7, 2011, 6:22 PM

My mother went through the same thing. It took ages to be sorted out, but she persisted and in the end she got what she needed. Don’t give up! Eventually they will listen to you!

Make Money Online February 7, 2011, 11:55 PM

Some nice information you got here, I actually own my website that is aimed at helping people making money online.

Belkis Lyon February 8, 2011, 2:31 AM

please preserve on writing these excellent lines and outstanding words that inspire us

web proxy February 8, 2011, 5:15 AM

good share

xbox live codes February 8, 2011, 6:16 AM

I truly wanted to write down a quick note to express gratitude to you for all the amazing tips and tricks you are showing at this website. My time-consuming internet investigation has now been honored with good strategies to exchange with my visitors. I ‘d claim that many of us visitors actually are rather fortunate to live in a fabulous place with so many lovely individuals with helpful strategies. I feel very much lucky to have seen your entire web page and look forward to really more cool moments reading here. Thanks a lot again for all the details.

learn acoustic guitar February 8, 2011, 6:49 AM

I know this isn’t exactly on topic, however i’ve a website using the same program as well and i get troubles with my comments displaying. is there a setting i’m missing? it’s doable you might assist me out? thanx.

Legal Music downloads February 8, 2011, 8:27 AM

Wow!, this was a real quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too - taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I keep putting it off and never seem to get something done

buy vigrx plus February 8, 2011, 8:55 AM

Nice content, i learned something from this post. Thanks!

chai tea benefits February 8, 2011, 10:14 AM

I found this site under my bookmarks, probably bookmarked it my wife. Do you have a rss or something like this? I want to add you to my rss reader, becous liked this article especially your way how to explain this.

Sueprfly2 February 8, 2011, 10:25 AM

WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..extra wait .. …

Arnoldo Gillion February 8, 2011, 11:28 AM

Aol! i want the application!

clean my pc February 8, 2011, 12:11 PM

I’m also writing to let you understand of the notable discovery our princess developed reading your site. She noticed a good number of issues, most notably how it is like to have a great coaching mood to let most people effortlessly have an understanding of a variety of extremely tough topics. You truly exceeded readers’ desires. Thank you for distributing such beneficial, trustworthy, educational not to mention cool tips about this topic to Tanya.

liver cancer symptoms February 8, 2011, 3:00 PM

Now this is hghly recommeded post for me. I will surely email this to my friend.

vigrx plus February 8, 2011, 3:50 PM

Fantastic article! Great job posting such useful and reliable information, really glad to visit this site

kayaking san juan island February 8, 2011, 4:18 PM

My neighbor and I were simply debating this specific topic, he is usually looking for to show me incorrect. Your view on this is great and exactly how I really feel. I simply now mailed him this site to show him your own view. After wanting over your web site I guide marked and will probably be coming back to read your new posts!

Back to top >>