“Families always have these unspoken dramas, and at holidays, everyone is supposed to sit down and pretend that none of that is going on.” – Richard LaGravenese
With the holidays approaching we all have issues coming up.
The Norman Rockwell happy family smiling around the turkey is just that; a pretty picture taken in a moment in time. The reality of most holidays and family dinners include much more.
With sports, people train and then practice, and finally have a test to see who wins.
It does not evaporate. Family history is in you.
Whatever it was, or is, will probably be with you forever.
The training that took place growing up is pretty much ingrained by adulthood. Even if you hated it; it’s in there.
You were loved or not, had most of your needs; physical AND emotional met, or not, and you learned about being a male or female and how they relate to one another in that training period. You formed an image of yourself that was reinforced at home and later on the outside.
You negotiated within that family system and related to everyone there, including siblings.
The practice part came later as you tried out what you learned at home on others. Most people repeat what they have lived as children with the other people they engage with. This is where the rubber meets the road. Maybe it works well, and then maybe it doesn’t. What you do about it at this stage is crucial. Keep practicing what doesn’t work well or try to change it. That ain’t easy. It can be slow, and painful.
So now come the holidays.
Most families do get together and try to have a good time.
Some succeed. Many do not, and some have a really up and down occasion.
Often alcohol can unleash things that were better left alone.
The old feelings are there and resurface.
The team will organize itself around old patterns. Then the game is ON.
Who brings up what and who ‘sides’ with whom will become immediately known.
Old rivalries will come to the fore. Hurt feelings will want to be paid back and so on.
Often the meal will end with people having headaches and indigestion. And it won’t be because of the turkey and stuffing!!
Who will come out the winner?
Now it’s fine to have disagreements and old sores and memories that may not be good, BUT, and it’s a big BUT; you should be able to handle family in a mature responsible manner.
That means not neglecting the past and the feelings BUT moving in positive territory and getting along, perhaps just civilly to make the holiday, at the least, pleasant.
By not giving in to the old bad stuff you can move on to new and happy areas of conversation and that will change the game plan and make for a good holiday event which will in turn lead to happy memories and a desire to repeat it again next year.
The choice is yours and even if some family members choose to be bitter or angry or resentful, only you are in charge of you. Do not take the bait. You have nothing to prove at this stage of the game. You need only talk to yourself and then have the family engage with one another in positive ways.
Yes, some people remain angry for life and want others to be miserable. That need not be you.
There is so much to discuss in this life that you can find topics of interest that do not stir up unhappy feelings. And that does not include politics or the world situation!
“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family, in another city.” – George Burns
What are your family holidays like? What is the worst part? The best part?