the Traveling Writing Room
‘Tis the season
Family and Christmas. We want everything to be just right. We want our children to appreciate what we give and our parents to appreciate who we’ve become. We want the gathering of the clan to be pleasant, beautiful and full of peace and harmony. So, what can we do to bring about this little miracle?
Lower our standards!
Something happens during the holidays that tricks us into thinking we live at Disneyland or in a Hallmark movie. Maybe it is a brand of hope that makes us believe this year Aunt Sally won’t be rude, or Uncle Harry won’t belch at the table, or that your mother won’t suggest to you, yet again, that Weight Watchers is offering a free after-Christmas enrollment membership. Television commercials and specials have pulled us into the fantasy of what Christmas should look, feel and sound like: Snow outside, roaring fireplace inside, everyone wearing matching jammies, and every relative is a George or Mary Bailey clone.
Families are messy. They are made up of people who leak and ooze with imperfections. We can hurt each other, smother each other, and we are all guilty of uttering these fateful words to each other: “If I were you I’d…” Leading a conversation with that precursor is like dumping a tray of ice cubes down the back of those sweet matching jammies. Hallmark myth obliterated. Check!
This year let’s give ourselves a break. Repeat after me: Less is more. Put the tinsel away at a certain point and declare, “Good enough!” Accept ourselves and those we love, period. The time to ‘fix’ them has come and gone and quite frankly, our efforts to fix them, hinders the joy of loving them.
Try to remember family are people too. They come with flaws and favors just like some of our friends do. They are the people who have known us all of our lives. Aunts who once held us on their lap; Uncles who taught us how to fish; Cousins with whom we shared secrets; Fathers who kept a roof over our heads; Mothers who sang us to sleep and pinched us in church for our own good; and children who depend on us to do the same.
True, our brothers or sisters may not know us as well as we’d like them too, but are there any better folks on this earth who should? What if we tried this year to be who we want them to be? Forgiving. Patient. Non-judgmental. More smiley. Less frowny. Supportive. And, interested in them, what they do, how they feel, what makes them laugh, what makes them cry, what prayers should you whisper on their behalf?
Family. Sure, some of them are the last people on earth we’d want to be stranded on a deserted island with. Yet, they are the very same ones who run toward us when we fail, fall or flounder. This year, if you are unfortunate enough to have an empty seat at the table that once was filled, let their memory remind you just how precious and fragile all of our imperfect, un-Hallmark-like family members truly are. 'Tis the season as they say. Go. Love. Rejoice.
Merry Christmas, y’all.