January 05, 2012

Christmas 2011: A Pictorial

I've been searching for an image that captured the essence of Christmas 2011. This one appealed to me, except we didn't go on vacation and I don't have a toddler, nor a husband, and the exhausted woman is w-a-y younger than myself. Last but not least, my toes point outward like a duck, not a pigeon. Which isn't an attractive sight for anyone other than ducks and you know what they say about ducks, right? You do not want to be attracting those folks. 

The Death of Socrates

Normal Rockwell paintings always come to mind when waxing philosophic about family and Christmas. Oh, you cannot believe how I can go on & on & on about the meaning and purpose, the values and principles of family. Then reality clashes with idealism and the image in my head is forced to adjust. SO, in the interests of personal integrity and sanity, Christmas 2011 would be better represented with this picture---->

Christmas 2011 was a dramatic Christmas as it generally is when my family-of-origin gets together. If you can bear thinking about this frightening fact, all my siblings are in their fifties (YIKES) and I am the only one who freely and without court order, sought professional therapy when John Bradshaw warned PBS audiences back in the eighties, that every family was dysfunctional. It was only a matter of degree. My family, lest you underestimate our competence, has a masters degree in dysfunction.
Ballerina at the Handrail by Botero
As the tension began to build and knuckles turned increasingly white, I danced around the kitchen making panettone, macaroni, potato rolls and pumpkin pie. Roasted turkey, glazed ham, prime rib and cheesy  gratin dauphinois. Pound cake, apple pie, poultry stuffing with spicy sausages and sage. Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, pecan potato pie. My finale? Perfectly crafted homemade caramels wrapped in waxed paper. Then I set a crystal bowl of Antacids on the counter next to the Prozac and you can guess which bowl was empty after ten days in Hell's Kitchen. Not the Prozac. SO, in the interests of personal integrity and my sanity, Christmas 2011 would be best represented with this picture. Look left but do not post comments about stress and belly fat, nor links to crash diets or even healthy ones. Thanks in advance. Much appreciated. Some folks use drugs to get through holidays. Some folks drink, others exercise to escape family. Me? I like to share my coping methods in the spirit of community. "Sit here. Take some bread. Have some pie. Eat. Feast on your life." We won't feel better in the morning but at least we can blame acid reflux and grab the Rolaids for a quick fix. 

With family-of-origin issues, there are no quick fixes. Try talking candidly with your fifty-sumthing-old siblings and you'd rather they'd eat themselves into oblivion and sedate their 'siblingus rivalus' with sugar. We don't live in Philidelphia, we four girls with conflicting personalities and varying degrees of maturity. I am constantly shocked at my sisters' immaturity. Their regressive blindness. Their six-year-old jealousies and petty competitive superiority. I was so distraught by their childishness that at one point, I grabbed my bag of caramels and went home. Well, that was kinda hard since I was home already. SO,  in the interests of personal integrity and sanity , I imagined the kitchen to be a castle and denied entry to my big-footed sisters. Which worked fine for them of course, because it meant I served the meals and did the dishes and mopped the floors while they played games with their fellow retrogrades, polished their nails, and shined their jewels. I was hoping to fatten them up just prior to shoving them in the oven, knowing never the wiser would they be (nobody ever suspects the maid, do they?) and then my conscience wouldn't let me go through with it. Besides, 'cheesy sisters dauphinois' would require gigantic roasting pans the likes of which only exist in fairytales. 

There is nothing particularly interesting about my dysfunctional family. We're like most dysfunctional families---better than some, worse than others, comparatively speaking. I think what is interesting is Awareness. Consciousness. Introspection. Empathy. Imagination. Hope. Healing. Dancing between what was, what is, what could be. 

What's even more amazing than all of the above? 




  1. Oh my. I wish I could have been there. I would have grabbed those caramels with you and run for the hills -- or at least the biggest tub to bathe in bubbles and silky soap and munch on bonbons.

    but seriously... were you at my house for Christmas? Minus the cooking and baking and preparing and sauteeing and glazing and all that food stuff, of course :)

    Love this post! YOu make me laugh out loud -- which is a good thing, though ellie does get a bit disturbed as it's just we two in the house.

  2. Awesome post. I would love to eat at your house. I am learning to avoid most of the Family-of-origin get together or just kept them of short duration. Loved the visuals. :)

  3. BWAHAHAAAA! Thanks for the pix-love 'em!

    So, how's the "Catering Business" workin' for ya?! :) Honey, next year I vote for a pre-planned LOOONG vacation-anywhere, even the local no-tell motel over the Holidays. Isn't is amazing even during what sounds like a glorious feast (and a hellacious amount of work on your part) they STILL manage between bites to sling stinging comments, horribly nasty "digs" and just generally being as less-than-joyful (forget gracious) as possible?

    Next year if you decide to do this again, I'd be certain to seat them all at the "Children's Table"-oh wait, that'd require your entire dining table plus the extra leafs-to accommodate ALL the "Over-sized KIDS."

    Again, thanks for the wry laugh (and the knowing nod) as I read this post. Made my day and brought back all kinds of....ahhh, "memories!"

  4. Hi Louise! Looks like you survived the holidays 'cuz you're still able to type which means you aren't wearing a straight jacket which I feared would be my new winter coat. ha!

    I've decided to use Christmas holidays as a healing gauge. A test to see how well I've done that year. It's easy to "THINK" you've moved beyond your old defenses and grown up. But the real test---the KING OF TESTS, is spending time with siblings.

    I am glad you got a kick out of this post, though. I intended to write a serious article about healthy boundaries but ended up with this piece after finding the "Death of Socrates" painting. ha!


  5. "I would love to eat at your house." ~Ruth

    I will admit to you and everyone, that I am an excellent cook having crafted my skills in Home Economics classes back before we eliminated Home Ec from university studies.

    I love all things domestic...even cooking, which is finally making a comeback.

    We went through a strange period of time when anything smacking of 'women's work' was disdained, even rejected. It's odd to hear my young nieces say snottily, "I do NOT cook." Almost as odd as when my vain sister says it.

    Like okay, cool. You don't cook. So who is gonna feed you? O, that's right! The older sister who LIKES being a scullery maid.

    Or she says, "I don't do dishes...they ruin my fingernails." Well, golly gee...how cool for you! Who's gonna do your dishes? O, that's right! The older sister who LIKES scrubbing pots.

    It's funny but some people have this strange idea that you only have to do what you 'like' doing! So if they don't LIKE doing something, they don't. It's an adolescent belief but like I said, my siblings are fighting maturity tooth and nail.


  6. Hi anonymous (do I know you?),

    Listen, like I told Louise---I am using Christmas as a measuring stick for healing. It might be difficult to do though because my siblings are getting worse by the year.

    I am NOT kidding!! I don't know what they have to complain about...i mean seriously! My husbaNd ran away with the gingerbread girl on Christmas MORNING! How many people can top that for shitty?

    I will write later about our holiday blow-up. we always have at least one but 2012 was a doozy! I had to satisfy my picture addiction first. Then I can get serious!


  7. You always get me...in the funny bone!

    This was a riot.....and so damn true in the generic ways possible.

    Mine Xmas? 7 guests (two sons both named Christopher...don't ask) and every one of the guests had cellphones in their laps, texting at the beginning of the dinner I worked like a slave to serve....so I went around the table with a basket, and told everyone to put their phones in the basket and they would get them when they went out the door.

    Worked....but the two Christophers sneaked their phones out....and continued to text their girlfriends back in Virginia. And this went on for three day, even at 3am....and when they were pulling out, no goodbyes, no tears, no "Thank you!"...just punching in the alphabet.

    I proably don't have a cellphone cause I can't see the numbers or the alphabet.

    You are soooo funny, CZ...but you speak for every woman who has the 'balls' to invite relatives and guests into their home.

    What would we expect??? Civilization is imploding afterall.

    Hugs and Love!
    Lady Nyo


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