Holiday cheer we don#8217;t often see

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 26, 2007

There is a real-life e-mail to follow, but I’ll never tell from whom, to whom or for whom.

It’s a laundry list of Christmas memories more of us really have than we’d like to admit, and some that we’d really prefer not remember at all, let alone share.

Let’s face some facts here. Not every family is Walton-like. In this day and age, there are moonscapes of rocky divorces that leave emotional scars, particularly around the holidays. Or maybe not necessarily divorces. Perhaps it’s just distance, for whatever reason.

Family members have a way of showing their true colors, as it were, at family gatherings. There can be ugly conflicts. Why do you think some family members live so far apart? Or, conversely, why do families stay together in spite of such friction?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through all my years, is that people react to different events in different ways, and the reasons for that behavior is not easily explained. And in most cases, there is no good reason to account for all of those reactions. In short, some people do things we can’t explain.

In my own immediate family, which now includes my mother, my sister and myself, we’re spread across about 1,200 miles of this country: I’m here, my Mom is on Long Island and my sister is in Oklahoma. We don’t see one another much these days. We e-mail, talk on the phone on some weekends, exchange cards, send holiday packages. Face-to-face meetings get more rare with the years.

My cousins, on the other hand, children of my mom’s younger sister, live about 12 minutes apart in suburban Maryland. They talk on the phone a few times every day. Their kids are raising each other. Talk about a village in which to raise children.

Why the difference? I certainly don’t know. Perhaps enlightened brains better prepared than mine can answer.

Nevertheless, we enter the holiday weekend.

This is the e-mail promised:


“I got the package of gifts Saturday.

“We will miss you, too! Christmas won’t be the same without all the family drama.

I mean, where else can you go when you want to get cursed out on Christmas morning by your brother because you moved his coffee cup (never mind you haven’t seen him in more than a year) or have your toilet paper use monitored.

“Or watching as your 40-year-old uncle sneaks out of his bedroom window because he doesn’t want to speak to the entire family.

“Or watching your former sister-in-law and her new husband come to open presents and have lunch with the entire family, with at least four dogs barking and howling (one of which drinks wine right out a wine glass and then cocks his leg and relieves himself on everything in his path), six

kids screaming and crying over nothing, numerous telephones ringing nonstop, the TV turned up loud enough to wake the dead, noise coming from the computer at full blast, and your ex-boyfriend (who isn’t blood related) and his girl friend and their kids join you for Christmas lunch?

“Geez, did I leave anything out? I am sure I did. Seriously, where else can you find all of that and more in one stop? I am tired just thinking about it.

“No, all kidding aside, I will miss everyone this year. It’s just comical when you sit back and think about all the chaos that went on at Granddaddy’s house for the last seven years. It has been nuts but lots of good memories. After Christmas, please do fill me in on the latest Christmas Disasters and Dysfunctions.

“Love and miss you!”

So, Merry Christmas, one and all.