You may or may not have noticed that I’ve had a hard time writing a blog post for the past couple of days. The reasons are many, I suppose. There is certainly the busy-ness around an event holiday, with cooking and traveling and lots of time with people. Spending too much time with people, even the ones I love, is exhausting and makes me cranky.

And speaking of cranky, there is a lot of what I’ll call pretense about this holiday – perhaps most holidays. So if my post on Thursday seemed sort of negative or bitter, well, that’s because this country, my country, along with being wonderful in some ways, has and does behave deplorably in so many other ways. One could say that this is true of most people, as well as nations or governments and perhaps that is so.

However I find it troubling when a person or entity touts its praiseworthy values and then does not even come close to living them. It’s ‘talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.’ Most people who know me would probably say that I am perilously close to being a ‘Pollyanna’ in my determined optimism. But that veneer seems to be wearing thin in places, as I age.

I’m going to return to the pretense issue as it relates to family. Family of man [sic]: we all belong. Blood family: even before genetic testing, the net of biological connection was rather vast. I know that I have many blood kin whom I have never met. But we are family in a genetic sense. And of course there are the blood kin with whom my life is closely intertwined. There is family as a legal entity: this would include those who have married ‘into the family’ as well as any other legal joining, like adoption.

Family as a unit: those who protect and nurture one another, without specific biological or legal connections. That would include ‘friends as family’, regardless of living situation, or any of the classifications used to define people as different. These are the chosen ones, the people we want to spend time with, or more specifically, at least for me, the people that it is relaxing and comfortable and de-stressing to be with.

Unfortunately, my experience with holidays over the decades has involved many hours surviving the pretense of family as nurturing and loving. Patience and good will is wearing pretty thin in that arena. I think that part of what I am trying to say is that I have shed almost all of the illusions I treasured as a child and young adult, that the rosy pretenses were real. And I am no longer willing to wait for the idyllic future when some miracle will have taken place and the rosy pretenses (like the Velveteen Rabbit) have become real.

There is a song from the mid-1970’s, written and performed by the Steve Miller Band. If you want to take a trip to the past, click the link here. The clothes, the guitars, the hair… One line keeps playing in my head. (I believe they are called ‘earworms’?)

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.

Yes indeed, the future is here.



Family, expectations and numbing

grape night.  Returned from with in-laws and step-in-law extended family.  Spent about six hours in the car, several hours in traffic.  Tired.

This morning as we were setting out, and off & on during the day, I found myself reflecting on family, expectations and numbing.  I think we all experience variations of these themes on traditional family holidays.

Who we will spend the day with?  Who cooks & cleans up?  How are we expected to dress and behave?  I understand that it would be/is hard to be alone on this family holiday, but, let’s face it, it’s also sometimes hard to be with family.

Expectations make me think about the 1950’s housewives, home cooks, who perhaps had never learned to cook a turkey.  Suddenly they were receiving a considerable amount of pressure to produce a golden beauty for carving at the table.turkey

This did not play out well in my childhood home.  The bird was always overcooked and dry, because my mother worried that it might be raw.  My father tried to tell her what to do differently.  Honestly, I believe they fought about it every year.  Such a tense and un-festive family gathering. Why?

When I left home and gained a little perspective (and also the know-it-all attitude of a 20-year-old), I suggested that he be the one to cook the bird. No way!  Of course I had also become a vegetarian upon leaving home, which did not go over well either.  My father put turkey on my plate every year, no matter what I said.  Yep.  Expectations.

And finally, for now, numbing.  The most common numbing methods for these quintessential events are:  drinking alcohol, watching football on TV and eating too much, especially sweets.

That’s all I can manage tonight.  I have more to say on these topics and tomorrow I will write more cogently, I hope.