Monday, November 26, 2012

When There's No Fun in Dysfunctional

The holiday season is upon us. And since it's my turn at bat here at Honestly YA, I'm thinking of Christmases of yore. 'Cause nothing saying holiday cheer like a walk down good ole Dysfunctional Family Lane.
Oops, was that out loud? 

I know, everyone's supposed to be happy during the holiday, skipping around singing Christmas songs, hauling out the holly, lighting candles in the window, and playing carols on the spinet. 

Well what if the most wonderful time of year...isn't? What if it's just another day, albeit one with festively wrapped gifts, that ends with you shaking your head wondering why the f*@k your family members can't just get along?

Sound familiar? If so, my condolences. We're fellow veterans of Holiday Hell. If not, I'm envious because evidently Hallmark Christmas specials really do come true.

You see, my family wasn't one of those cute, semi-dysfunctional ones where Dad's goofy and embarrassing, mom's dotting yet exasperated, and the kids are wretched but adorable, a al A Christmas Story. 
Nope, it was a lot more like The Ref. Especially the beginning and middle sections where everyone's yelling at each other and hurling insults.  

In fact, it wasn't Christmas if my mother didn't bellow, "Merry Christmas, family!" at some point during the day. Except she didn't say it like you'd imagine Santa Claus would, with his arms outstretched and a twinkle in his eye. No, her annual salutation was uttered in a gravely tone, dripping with disappointment and disgust. 

So what's the point of this sorry reminiscence? To offer a little glimmer of hope to others who experience the same kind of holiday madness. As a teen and young adult, I often wondered if my family craziness was normal, and if true happiness was just a marketing gimmick, painfully out of reach.  

I'm here to tell you it's not. I grew up and out of my past to build a happy and loving family with my husband. Our children are joyful, kind and sensitive, and genuinely enjoy each other's company. And the friends we've brought into our lives have become our true family who'd never pick a fight at a holiday dinner.

So if your family is as insane as my nuclear family was, hang on. You too will grow up and out of the insanity to create your own Hallmark Christmas special.

Happy holidays! 



Pintip said...

Great post, Lea! I think, no matter how Hallmark-card perfect your family is, there is bound to be a little drama when you get that many people together for an extended amount of time. Right? Right?! Of course, when I mentioned this theory to a friend of mine (one of those annoyingly calm and level-headed types), he scrunched his eyebrows together and said, "What is there to be drama about?" Yeah, if you have to ask that question, then maybe you really do have one of those Hallmark families!

Lorie Langdon said...

Awesome post, Lea! I'm glad my family wasn't the only one. :)
My little nuclear family is great, but we still have drama galore at our extended family parties. I've learned to embrace it, and be happy I can come home to a peaceful house.

Micki Gibson said...

Uh oh. I grew up in one of those Hallmark holiday special type families. Granted it's probably more of the redneck version, but there really wasn't drama. Or perhaps I was too high on a sugar rush to notice or care. The only thing I recall was all the jokes about how late Uncle Joe was going to be to the party. And when you're a kid, dying to open some Christmas presents, you're not too thrilled with Uncle Joe making you wait. (I hadn't learned the term "fashionably late" back then.) Anyhow, I'm happy that you do get the happy family holidays now. And I couldn't picture your family any other way! :-)

Kimberly said...

I always laugh (NOW) that we put the fun in dysfunction, except sometimes the fun wasn't that fun. LOL. I try to remember the good times, because we did have them, but generally I remember my step-dad being surly, moody and, later, drunk. We didn't have much money, so when all the other kids were talking about the great gifts they got, I tended to make some stuff up. Ah. Imagination.... Of course, they were too expensive to bring to school. :-)
Now, I tend to give my kids memories more than the gifts (although they are lucky in that area as well). We have traditions. We have fun. There is always the yelling (with five kids, it's bound to happen), but I'm pleased to say that my family is completely functional. They still drive me crazy though. LOL.
So, yes, Virginia, there is a hope! :-)