Family drama

November 26, 2011

The holidays are half over: had enough of family drama?

I have to tell the truth. The Legal Eagle and I like our holidays a deaux. I know we’re not supposed to. We’re supposed to want warm holiday gatherings of kith* and kin.

But we don’t.

He watches football, I cook a meal and we hang out with our dogs. Books, movies and maybe a walk. Drama-free. Because it’s family-free.

Yes, I periodically whine about my dysfunctional family of origin that sits way on the other side of the continuum–the one that starts with the Waltons, that close-knit TV family of the 1970s. But I’ve come to see it as simply a knee-jerk reaction to the fairy tale version of “family.”

Just like the myth of the glass slipper, this idea that family automatically means close ties and confidences, sisterly best friends, the brothers you can depend on, well, it’s just not true for many of us.

And so what if it isn’t?

On holidays, our phone lines burn up with calls between me and my sisters-in-love in all states.

My closest female friends are the most intimate relationships I’ve ever had. We have true appreciation for one another, even our differences, and our interactions are filled with abundant laughter. We leave that thing people call “dysfunction” to our families.

My closest male friends are more protective than male family member ever was. They want the best for me and they make that very clear. We share confidences and an understanding well beyond what I’ve ever had with my family of origin.

And still, we can tell the truth to one another in loving and thought-provoking ways.

Maybe this kind of relationship just isn’t possible with the complications that a shared family history brings.

The myth of the close-knit happy family crops up every holiday and is the source of the season’s big spike in depression.

So here’s what I say: Test that assumption. Don’t assume everyone’s got it but you. It’s time to adjust our expectations.

Because if you’ve got this, well, you’ve got a lot:

* Kith: an old word meaning acquaintances, neighbors & the like

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