In a recent Facebook post, Dr. Oz cautioned readers to beware of the sodium in your holiday foods because they could raise your blood pressure and “negatively affect your health.” Well, Dr. Oz, it ain’t just Aunt Edna’s Mac n Cheese that’s raising blood pressures at all these family gatherings. Often times it’s Aunt Edna! Or Uncle John or Mother-in-law or Sister-in-law . . . come to think of it most of the time it is “Someone-in-law”.
Have you ever heard that verse, “It’s the most, wonderful time of the year” and thought “yeah buddy, you don’t have to spend it with my family!” If you haven’t then yea for you. Probably time for you to leave this blog and go find one about how to turn the simple act of wrapping a present into a 4 hour ordeal which includes weaving your own ribbon. This ain’t that blog.
When you Google “Families and Holidays” the first several results are along the lines of tips to reduce family “burdens” and “stress” around the holidays. Doesn’t something about that seem off? Aren’t these supposed to be the people you hold most dear? Then why do they irritate the living fool out of us? I remember reading an interesting article 20-25 years ago either in Seventeen or Cosmopolitan magazine. It was geared more towards romantic relationships but the part that stuck with me the most was that the reason someone could exasperate you to the point of insanity was simply because they mattered so much to you. You don’t spend as much time annoyed at someone you don’t care about. This person is so important to you and you love them so very much that every little annoying thing they do can infuriate you. That explains a lot, but doesn’t exactly warm the heart.
Back when “Home Improvement” with Tim Allen was on, I didn’t watch it regularly but I did see a Christmas episode when one of the kids wanted to go on a ski trip instead of spending the holiday with his family. Tim Taylor, the Dad, comes home to find him sneaking out while the rest of the family was at church. Tim says, “Christmas is not about being with people you like, it’s about being with your family!” (So is Thanksgiving)
I love that line! Because the truth is we don’t often like all the members of our family (or our spouse’s family), but they are important to us. And truthfully, more important than a lot of people we call friends. It’s hard because most of us spend much more of our time at work with co-workers and bosses and people who “need” us than we do our families these days. But if I die tomorrow, while I’m sure several people at work will miss me, within a few weeks they will hire someone else to take my place. My family isn’t going to hire another Mom, or daughter or niece or Aunt.
So, whether you are headed home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, Google all those helpful hints about dealing with family stress and take deep breaths when Aunt Edna comments that your turkey is extra dry this year, or when Uncle John has a little too much holiday wine and starts snoring in front of the TV, or when your mother-in-law corrects your children’s table manners then makes a comment not completely under her breath about “blame it on their mother”. Put on your rose-colored glasses and maybe invest in a good pair of ear-plugs. Relax and enjoy the family drama – heck maybe even blog about it. There are people throughout our country who are all alone this Thanksgiving and they would give anything to be where you are. There are soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq who would love to experience the holiday with their irritating, overbearing family. We have the distinct honor and privilege of being with ours. And it’s not all bad, there’s Aunt Edna’s Mac n Cheese after all.
I’ll be away on Thanksgiving Day with family. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to rant and rave about by Friday. Take care and Happy Thanksgiving.