Sorry About Your Family Issues, But I Love Holidays Like Thanksgiving

family holidaysIt’s that time of year. As Thanksgiving approaches, websites will fill up with “Family Survival Guides” and “My Bigoted In-Law” stories. You might even find a few of them here on our site. It’s only natural that family holidays bring out a lot of family gripes. But I always feel a little disconnected from the internet community right around this time, mostly because I really love spending time with my family. In fact, family holidays feel a lot like every other Sunday of the year, plus more food.  All of that, “Ugh, I have to see my parents,” talk just makes me feel really lucky and really confused about how horrible everyone’s parents are.

I realize that for plenty of families, they can’t see extended relatives every weekend. Whether they’re limited by space or by distance, it can be hard to get dozens of people together regularly. Personally, my husband and I are aware that we spend an inordinate amount of time grabbing dinner with his sisters, organizing play dates with mine, and then trying to get both sides together for a meal that needs table setting for about 40 people. I get that this isn’t the norm.

At the same time, are everyone else’s families really so bad? Sure, some of them are. Some people are horrible in general. But is it really so difficult to ignore your differences for a couple days and enjoy each other’s company? Forget about each other’s politics and past squabbles and be thankful that your all able to come together now?

No family is perfect. Most of us leave that illusion to the Cleavers. I’m not saying that there aren’t times my brother-in-law and I don’t disagree about the doom surrounding Generation Y. I’ve spent years grappling with the fact that my uncle, and my grandfather before him, keeps guns in the house. We all have those issues.

But families are so much more than those issues that we might not agree on. There’s the shared history, listening to my grandfather and great-aunts talk about extended family that I never met. There’s the background to every piece of china my grandmother ever served food on. I still love hearing those stories.

In our family, we care about what’s going on in each other’s lives. We get excited for good news and supportive should something troubling happen. We gather around our youngest, helping and teaching them, all the while marveling at how adorable and intelligent and fearless they are. It doesn’t matter if we’ve had the best year or the worst. We will always be there ready to share with each other.

When I think about all of these blessings that our families give us, all of these things that I’m so thankful for, it makes me a little sad to see all of the whining and nitpicking we do about family time online. It makes me feel bad for the people who only see stress when their parents visit. And I guess, it also makes me feel very lucky to have family nearby all the time. These are people I want to see a lot more than a couple times a year when I get time off work. These are people I share my life with. Sharing the holidays is just another part of that.

(Photo: Morgan Lane Photography/Shutterstock)

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    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      A lot of us don’t have that during the holidays, or any other time, because of death, distance, or abuse, alcohol, drugs etc. I would give anything to have a large extended family to spend holidays with, but some of us just don’t have that.

      • chickadee

        Yes, and I am thrilled that the internet provides people who are in less than ideal circumstances with information and support to help them deal with their problems.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        I agree. I sorta like being able to take time from the festivities and read about people who have less than ideal family situations , it makes me feel less alone <3

    • ilovefredmertz

      oh no im sorry youre confused that some people werent blessed with loving and caring families. next time count your blessings instead of lording them over the rest of us.

      • Scarlette

        This is pretty standard for this writer. She has a post where she calls out commenters because they called out another writer for “being tired of feeling grateful”. Empathy is not her best quality.

    • LiteBrite

      I love my family too, and yes I completely agree with you about getting together over the holidays. I am fortunate to come from a large and rather close-knit family, and the holidays are a great time for us to reconnect. My only “complaint” is that because a few people live outside of the state we try to cram a lot into a few days. For example, this Thanksgiving we have to be at my dad’s at 1 p.m. then my MIL’s at 5 p.m. The Saturday after my mom is coming over for Thanksgiving at my house. Christmas won’t be much different. It’s a lot of running around and added stress to what is usually an already stressful season.

      But it is what it is, and I’m thankful that at least I have a great family even if they do stress me out. :)

    • NeuroNerd

      You ask “But is it really so difficult to ignore your differences for a couple days and enjoy each other’s company?” For some people: yes. It’s usually their relatives that post the Thanksgiving horror stories you dislike so much.

    • To Celebrate Women

      You are fortunate enough to have a loving family you can handle for several days at once. A lot of people don’t. I have an aunt who is, quite simply, evil and has ruined a decade’s worth of Christmases for our family before my mom finally cut off contact. The holidays are enjoyable now, but for a long time they really weren’t. It’s not simple at all.

    • AnnH

      “But is it really so difficult to ignore your differences for a couple days and enjoy each other’s company?” Well I tried that. I went back to my abusive family for every single little holiday, because “we’re a family afterall”. And guess what ? It made them think it was ok : they believed what they had done in the past was ok (it happened a few times that they joked about it at the dinner table), and the rest of the time, they just thought it was ok to keep on being verbally abusive, which isn’t so bad compared to the past abuses. You know what ? Our biggest difference with my family is that they don’t want to enjoy my company, they think I owe it to them, while I think I don’t enjoy their presence at all.
      I’m glad you have a family in which you can think the differences are possible to ignore. In many families, differences are actually open wounds. Why don’t you keep you little bragging and your big righteousness to yourself.
      Last year, I stopped “ignoring the differences”, and stopped talking to them at all. I celebrated every holiday on my own. I’d like to say I had the best time of my life ever, but not really. But at least I didn’t have to ignore my own feelings just because “we’re a family afterall”. I have no family, I’m learning to deal with that and it’s much more honest that forcing things on anyone.

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