Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Happiest Time of the Year

Sitting down and planning holidays with family is one of the hardest things in life. Mostly because there is no sitting down. There's a lot of calling back and forth, and texts and he said she said. Family decisions are weighted by the number of people they affect and so oftentimes the opinion of a single, childless member has very little value. This makes things even more difficult, because these are the people who need to look out the most for themselves, and the ones who the rest of the family think they're doing some kind of favor for, so they won't be alone. To make things worse, the routine and interests of younger members is often out of tune with that of the older members of the family. Nothing fits together.

When a family is young, the parents (or sometimes one parent) makes the decisions. Most possible situations (seeing mom's side of the family or dad's, seeing friends or going on a trip) are equally enjoyable for the kids so there's little discord (outside of the everyday discord of dirty diapers, uncomfortable socks, and eating fruits and vegetables). Eventually though, the needs of the offspring become more complex and disparate from those of the parent generation. Someone is always being asked to compromise. Often, no one gets what they want. Other times, one party acquiesces to the wishes of the others, putting their own needs aside; but unfortunately if the other parties don't recognize the developmental changes in the maturing family, then the sacrifices made on one person's part are merely met with a lack of recognition.

Holidays are supposed to be a joyous time for all. But if the joy of one depends on others acting in a role which they no longer truly occupy (and, therefore, can't really fill) then expectations are not met, resentments grow, and discontent is the theme of the day. Only by stepping back and recognizing, and appreciating, who each member of the family is, and by letting each person make their nown sincere contribution, will everyone find peace together.

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