Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah! Happy Kwanza! Best wishes to you and yours as you celebrate the holiday season.
We’re on a plane. Not right this second, but we will be shortly. A quick day trip to spend time with my family. All of us, together under one roof. Lots of fun; tons of food. Yes, it’s a long day. I think of it as a time-honored tradition, one that we all agree to even if it is just once a year.
My friend refers to such holiday gatherings as Forced Family Fun.
At first I thought this was a bit sad. Doesn’t everyone want to travel great distances or host large groups, all in the name of family tradition? How could you miss Auntie’s famous yellow Jell-O salad with potato chips, the one that no one eats but tradition says we’re required to have? How about the high-decibel shrieking of dozens of kids running through the house? What about peace, love and harmony? Earplugs, anyone?
Who am I kidding? As much as I love my family – and I really do; they are the best – sometimes it just seems like too much. Stressed out from work, overwhelmed with the millions of things going on in our lives, with no time to relax and enjoy the season - for Hubby and me, family time is the last thing on our list. Top of the list is sleep, followed closely by a couch potato contest to see who can remain on the couch the longest. We’d just like a day without obligations to enjoy the peace and quiet.
Yet every holiday, our family, like families around the world, spend time and money simply to be together.
We load up the car, drive long distances, sleep on the floor or the couch or wherever, share a bathroom full of toddler toys, step all over each other in a house that’s too small even for the family that lives there – and for what? A turkey dinner?
No. We do it for family. Tradition. A sense of belonging. And most importantly, for us.
It’s not always easy to travel to these get-togethers, nor is it easy to be the host. And when people start getting cranky I try to remember that there will be a day when the older relatives are gone and we’ll be left to fend for ourselves. We’ll long for the day when we actually were required to be somewhere for the holiday, and we’ll actually miss the shrieking kids as we try to re-create Auntie’s Jell-O salad.
Maybe the holidays are Forced Family Fun. You know what? Bring it on. I’m ready.
© Tami Cannizzaro 2011 All Rights Reserved
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