I truly believe that every holiday begins with the best of intentions: To be kinder, more open, more interested, more engaged, more communicative. We go in thinking THIS is the year it’s going to be really wonderful. We produce Norman Rockwell-ized images in our minds of what our family could be, peering in at all the warmth as if through a frosty window, a montage of camaraderie and laughter and love.
And then SHE has to go and say that.
Seriously Grandma? You’re going to go there again?
(Or mother, or sister in law, or uncle Joe. Anyone can and probably has gone there.)
Your blood begins to rise to a slow simmer, soon a boil, and then before you know it you’ve spat back some vitriol of your own, perhaps a sarcastic comment, or said your piece with a single accusatory twitch of the eyebrow.
You’ve been pulled over into the dark side.
Ah, families. They push our buttons. They ARE out buttons. And nothing brings out our very worst like the people we love most.
Why is that? Because. There’s no hiding from the people from whence you came. Sometimes, in fact, I think it’s far easier to love the people in your life that you don’t know as well. Maybe even strangers.
What gets on our nerves when we’re with our families–that somehow calls up from the dust an old, ugly, mean adolescent version of ourselves–is the something that our families aren’t so much causing as triggering. And when we can get to the bottom of THAT, well, things can feel a lot different.