Holidays are always an interesting time of the year for family dynamics, no? For instance, I’m fairly close with my immediate family members and we still live in the same area so it’s easy to get together with them any time of the year — not just when the holiday seasons roll around. However, those family members I don’t see often, for one reason or another, tend to miraculously appear to make holiday festivities … well, less than festive.
Every year my mom hopes for the same thing: to enjoy her holiday without chaos. My brother, my father and I do everything in our power to try and make my mom’s holiday as easy as possible, but no matter how hard we try something always goes wrong. It’s inevitable, that one family member (we all have one) will show up or call out of the blue and turn the day completely upside down and there’s no way to avoid it. For a long time, practically my entire life I thought it was just my family. We were the only family incapable of having a nice, quiet, relaxing holiday, but last night I discovered I wasn’t alone.
My parent’s long time friends, we’ll call them “the Briggs,” came over after dinner and joined us for a post dessert drink. Having the Briggs join us on Christmas Day is a long-standing tradition and I welcome it. I’ve known Mr. and Mrs. Briggs since I was a baby, I grew up with their children, and so to say we have a great relationship would be a drastic understatement. The Briggs are a very entertaining couple and I’m always looking for a good laugh. Mr. Briggs and I have been known to play a practical joke or two (or 20) on my mom, so he helps provide comical relief to a usually tense holiday occasion.
It’s pretty fascinating having “grown up” because I realized my brother and I were once children in their eyes who were “shooed” off once the adults had their post holiday conversation over a few drinks. But now, being twenty-somethings, we’re more than welcomed to join in on the mudslinging…
So there we are: The Briggs, my parents, my brother and I all gathered around the dining room table, enjoying a cordial or two as we traded war stories from yesterday (Christmas Day) and the day before (Christmas Eve). We all laughed, went story for story to see who could top the next and so on as the liquor flowed. It was absolutely terrific. Finally, the chatter and laughter died down and realized, “damn, my family is insane, but normal.”
Not really an astute observation, but true nonetheless. For the longest time I dreaded the holiday season just because I always wanted to avoid the non-sense that goes along with it. But avoidance is just not possible, unless I plan on living a life of loneliness and isolation, which I don’t. Rather, it was comforting to realize that every family has its problems, gatherings are chaotic, and holidays are rarely “perfect” so really it’s what you make of it.
I guess when people ask me what I got for Christmas this year I’ll have to say “perspective.”