Monday, December 17, 2007


Brian Andreas has a Story People drawing with the following words: "Rules for a successful holiday: 1. Get together with the family 2. Relive old times (tick tick tick) 3. Get out before it blows."

It is very difficult for groups of people, no matter how much they really love each other, to be together for long periods of time when they're not used to it. We tend to revert to our childish behaviors around those who witnessed them and this adds to the drama. I was always labelled bossy by my sibs, and I am bossy at its best when they're around. And they too assume the familiar roles of our past. We expect it of each other no matter how much therapy we've had or time has passed since we were young and part of a group of people who lived in the same house.

One thing that I (as a bossy person preparing to revert when the family gets here) would like to caution: If you get mad at someone in your family, don't go home mad. Do whatever it takes to make things right before you go.

When I was pregnant with my second daughter, my mom called me to come and change sheets in preparation for a visit from one of my sisters. My mom didn't feel well. I, however, was irritated that she wanted me--pregnant with a 1 1/2 year old--to come over. After changing the sheets I stood at the bottom of the steps leading upstairs in her house, looking up at her. She said she wanted to hug us but didn't want us to get sick. I was still mad.

The next morning my brother called to say that my mother had died in the night. I have never gotten over the fact that I was angry with her the last time I saw her. It's been almost 25 years since she died, and I feel weepy right now writing this.

My artist daughter (the one I was pregnant with at the time) having heard this story, made me a tapestry. It shows the legs of someone standing at the top of a set of stairs. On each of the steps, there are things we say to people when we leave: Be sweet, be careful, call me when you get there, I love you. She sewed it with my grandmother's thread that she got when my grandmother died.

Things are not going to always go smoothly during the holidays. We're stressed, the people we deal with are stressed. We come home hoping for a little peace. This Christmas my hope for you is that you and your family spend some quality time together. And if you don't get out before it blows, put out the fire before you go home.

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