Holidays Offer a Menagerie of Experiences

Dec 1st, 2008 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Holidays offer a menagerie of experiences. I almost wish this column were anonymous. I could then offer insights, as an unseen observer, of dynamics and interactions and foibles that are seldom acknowledged or discussed.

Families are identified by the DNA of their collective behavior. There are as many strands in the psychological behavior as there are in the physical makeup of the members.

Sometimes that’s good and sometimes it isn’t so good. Family groups are political units. The same struggles and infighting and coalitions occur there as they do in neighborhoods, villages and larger communities. Leaders emerge, followers follow, others observe and take a position or refuse to be a part of any of it. Indifference is often a protective measure for those who have little or no investment in the outcome of what’s going on in the larger circle. That may be a Darwinian expression of survival within families.

The irony of familial relationships is that families connect so seldom and briefly, that the expectation of magical “community” is really a staggering fantasy. Sure we can catch up on “things.” Of course, we can embrace and say how “good it is” to be together again.
And then, one begins to make way to the television set and the escape of the afternoon football game in which encounter is not required.

In it all, there is affection and appreciation. But, to be honest, most of it is temporary and a lot of it is stilted. If elections were held at such events, it is fairly predictable who would be most popular girl, most respected, most humorous, etc. Such would be a fallacy, because after everyone goes back home, who really cares?

One upsmanship is a big game played during such family gatherings. It is manifested in so many ways. Oh, look at how well my daughter is doing in her career. Or, did you notice the Polo shirt my son is wearing. He is doing so well! Who, the hell cares?

Once in a while, the sun shines though and there is a brief moment of genuine soul sharing, truth baring, love giving that everyone in the room is able to experience, if only briefly.

Some know that this is the moment of honest, by gosh, real Thanksgiving, but always there is someone in the room who runs interference and reminds us that the half is almost over and we all need to get back to the game.

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