Thanksgiving...the time when family and friends get together and make each other positively crazy. Since Thanksgiving, two days ago, I've caught up with approximately 400 people about their Thanksgiving and guess what guys? They were all the same. Everyone is completely F-ed up and dysfunctional. So, as you're reflecting on your holiday and thinking about how screwed up your family is or your looking through Facebook cursing all of the smiling pictures rest easy in the fact that all of those smiling faces are cursing through their teeth and probably a little too drunk. You're not alone and if you're reading this thinking that you can't relate because y'all are so normal...I have bad news for you friend. YOU are probably the crazy one in the bunch....the one that all the others are reading this and thinking about.
My parents house has always had an open door policy. It doesn't matter who you are or why you're here, just come in, have something to eat and make yourself at home. Thanksgiving is no exception. Holidays are never just our family and that's the way we like it. We have friends (who usually feel like family) and family (some of which are friends) and the revolving door is in high rotation. It's great! It's also exhausting.
The sound of the kids running around the house like cracked out psychos made my little black heart grow 10 sizes.
It's the randomness of these gatherings that make it so great -
My sister in law caught a dish rag on fire and instead of throwing it in the sink that was right in front of her face, she turned to me and tried to swat the fire out on ME. I pushed her flaming arms away so she threw it on the floor and started stomping it with my Mom screaming, "NOT ON THE FLOORS!!!" Nothing like a small kitchen fire to let you know where you stand with the family.
My nephews spent hours digging up turnips in my Dads garden and eating them in the garage. We spent the rest of the night teasing them that their room would be 10 degrees warmer from turnip farts and they were properly mortified.
My Dad (Larry) started one of his infamous games of ridiculousness getting the kids to jump and see if they could hit their heads on the ceiling. Leave it to Larry Joe to find a way to sit back in his recliner and have the kids wear themselves out. Genius.
Larry is a post or an entire blog unto himself. Unfortunately/Fortunately, my Mom made so much food that we didn't need his bacon wrapped quail that he had stuff with peanuts, mushroom and oysters but we got to enjoy them the next day when we all went back for a second dose of crazy for my brothers birthday.
It was a pretty standard family gathering but something about it made me a little sad. A depressed kind of happy if that makes sense?
Seeing all of the kids playing and laughing made me think about when I was a kid and things were so.damn.simple. Hours were spent eating crushed up candy cane, running miles on the Nintendo Power Pad and how many ducks were brought down in their prime on Duck Hunt?! We played card games until our eyes were crossed. The party didn't even start until we busted our Nanny hanging out the window of the back bathroom smoking a cigg and every party ended with Larry singing and playing the guitar.
Now it's different and it's not just my family - I've talked about this with so many people and it's true for every family - and the ones who say otherwise are lying....or so I tell myself.
The problem is that we all grow up. Growing up is a huge problem when it comes to keeping the peace. We grow up, we get opinions, we get jaded, we set these expectations and we ruin everything. We get caught up in our own shit and we get judgey (it's a word) and we lose that simple fun time that the kids have.
John can't stand his sister because he thinks she's a shitty mom.
Christy is pissed because her sister didn't put forth the effort that she expected.
Your brother doesn't like the person that your cousin is dating.
Your step brother has mental issues and is embarrassing the family on social media.
Tom is a homosexual and that makes some of the others a little "uncomfortable".
The grandparents show favoritism.
So and so is competitive with another person.
One person thinks another entire family smells gross.
People get snappy. It's too hot. The sweaters are too tight. The kids are too loud. People are too talkative. People aren't talkative enough.
OHMYGOD WHEN DOES IT END?!
This is the point that I refill my wine glass and my Dad pretends to be asleep in the middle of the living room. No seriously. That happens. Every.Time. Know why? 'Cause Larry don't give a damn.
And for the record not all of those are about my family...
I guess every family has issues and always will. You can't have 30 different personalities in a family without people clashing. Maybe all of this same stuff was going on while we were blasting ducks and ripping through hurdles and we were just blissfully unaware?
I think what every family needs to do is to make efforts match expectations. If you expect your spouse to be treated a certain way - you should dish out the same respect. If you want support, you have to give it. If you don't want people to call you smelly then you should probably just take a shower. If you don't want to embarrass your family you need to take your meds.
The kids have it all figured out. They show up with whatever crap makes them happy and they don't give a crap what you're brining. They talk. They play. Then they pass out. Done.
So, here is my game plan for less stressful holiday gatherings that no one including myself is going to follow:
Lower expectations - Who cares if your table setting wouldn't make Martha Stewart swoon. No one cares and Martha is a bitch anyway.
More playing - Get out the cards and play. Discussing politics/religion/other serious stuff is only fun for people who suck and it's the perfect way to ruin a party. You aren't going to hear about foreign policies at the kiddie table.
Less judgement - Hey, if you want to marry a smelly person that smacks their food, that's on you!
Oh and crack a window because it's always too hot and the nephews have without a doubt eaten something that is going to give them gas.
In the end, none of it matters. As cliche as it sounds, as long as you have your health, does anything else matter? For me, the house is full and THAT is what matters. The table setting is never up to Martha Stewart's standards, there is never enough seating or plates but there is always more than enough food and more than enough love even if it is wrapped in an insult or an awkward hug...that's what makes it fun and gives me a reason to write. "Normal" and "perfect" are boring and overrated. If I surrounded myself with "normal" I'd be bored to tears.
I hope you all had a perfectly dysfunctional Thanksgiving and if not, Christmas is right around the corner.