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Monday, December 19, 2011

Holidays and Family

What makes the holidays so stressful for families? I think it is the unrealistic expectations we have of each other. We know the best of our family and, sadly, also the worst. What we want is a happy harmonious gathering where everyone shares the same interests. The truth is, we are all different. If our family members were people we met, we might not even be friends with them. Yet what we have in common is a history. I remember my older brother pretending to read a book about our favorite character, Keeko, when he was in first grade and I was not yet in school. We howled with laughter at his made-up sentences. My younger brother Paul (who cut off a toe at age 2) built a small house in our back yard out of boards he gleaned throughout the neighborhood. I loved going out there. I remember going to garage sales with my mom when I had small children, and her endless back rubs when I had a migraine. My dad always took us camping and fishing on his vacations. Can you imagine 5 people in a rowboat, 3 of them kids? Dad has been gone for almost ten Christmas celebrations, but I will still hear him speaking pretend Swedish and saying, "Deeeeeelicious!" when asked how the lutfisk was. My memories of my children and grandchildren are among the most precious to me. It is hard to describe the joy they bring into my life. I don't have a lot of money or status, but I do have 6 wonderful human beings that have come into my life with beautiful personalities, warts and all. They are perfect to me, although far from perfect human beings (oxymoron). I would have them get together every weekend if I could, but they have lives to live and I am no longer central to their existence. So I look forward to the Christmas gathering with excitement, trying not to get my hopes too high. If I can remember how blessed I am to have such an amazing family, I will have another happy memory to store away for the future.

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