Every holiday season, I get sentimental. I’m a sucker for the commercials and movies featuring large gatherings of families over the perfect holiday dinner spread. Everyone is smiling and laughing, seeming to not have a care in the world. Everyone is happy to see each other, there’s even a surprise visit from a family member whom they thought was unable to make the trip. All is warm and well in their world. Every year, I foolishly look forward to the same scene playing out in my own home. Then reality hits.
I don’t live in a commercial for coffee, stuffing or any other mouth-watering dinner offering. I also don’t live in a holiday movie. I live in the real world. I live in a family that has real-world problems, always have. I know I’m not alone.
If Hallmark were to make a holiday movie about one of these real world families with real world issues, we would watch an entirely different movie altogether. In fact, it would be much more entertaining. Auntie isn’t talking to grandma, the other grandparents may be bitter about not seeing the grandkids. Perhaps a relative always drinks too much and picks a fight at any family gathering. Maybe brother-in-law still owes dad money. Or, maybe the in-laws just straight up don’t get along. Whatever the scenario, I’m sure most people can identify with me.
This isn’t the new normal. Many people were brought up with this family dynamic, including myself. There’s a long history of family holidays that are a little less Lifetime movie and a little more Jerry Springer.
I don’t love my family any less for it. Just like anyone, families have their ups and down through life. They’re still my family and I love them the same, although I sometimes find myself stressing over the gathering of loved ones and the disasters that may result from it.
In the end, it’s really not worth the worry. Are we really going to cancel Christmas? And excluding an unruly family member just isn’t what the holidays are all about. Besides, it provides for some very colorful holiday memories. Nobody really remembers the holiday that went off without a hitch. But everybody remembers back in ’99 when cousin Billy threw the mashed potatoes at Paw-Paw!
Maybe this Christmas will be one of those memorable holidays and maybe it won’t. Either way, we’ll be surrounded by the people we love. So, enjoy it. If it’s a disaster, own it and drink in the memory. You’ll be looking back and laughing about it someday. Why not start now?