Straight out of Tolstoy

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
                                                                                                      Leo Tolstoy

Yo can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not…              Harper Lee


Members of both happy and unhappy families are affected by resentments, feeling left out, unappreciated, taken advantage of, unappreciated, taken advantage of, being misunderstood and countless other ways.  It’s the happy family that’s able to resolve issues and remain involved.

Or maybe it’s the unhappy family who is doing better when they bring differences out in the open, play no conciliatory games and accept their feelings. Those are few and far between.  The more common is the unhappy family who pretends to be happy but silently hangs on to their resentments and hard feelings.

My family is a mix of all of these. My parents and their six children, in our growing up years, had the usual minor glitches. Let’s face it. All families have that one or two hard to understand or tolerate person who stretches the patience of everyone. And who puts a damper on Christmas dinner.

Once I was an adult, I recall how my dad would remark after a holiday get together, how happy he was that we could spend time together. And yes, we could put aside our differences for a few hours in the name of family peace.

But once Mom and Dad were gone, things changed.  I’d often said to a sister that once they were gone, family get togethers would fall away. For us, they have and we now have several factions.

One faction has Christmas their way; come if you want to or don’t but you have to leave by a certain time. Some, make up excuses so they don’t have to attend. Some purposely make other plans.

One faction wouldn’t go to a nephew’s graduation party because they’d have to see that one problem relative. That doesn’t seem fair to the graduate who had nothing to do with the long-standing disagreement. Another faction isn’t invited to certain weddings. And some don’t belong to any faction. They just show up whenever invited.

Perhaps I’m finally ready to accept that my family is irreparably broken. Thinking back, this is certainly not new. It’s been going on for a very long time, it just bothers me more now.

I finally faced reality this last year when my brother, sister-in-law and I planned a simple March Madness party. Some didn’t want to come unless assured a certain person would not be there. This was capped off when my attempts failed miserably to work out a holiday get together that would be convenient for everyone. I give up.

But here’s what I’ve decided to do. In a future event I’m planning, I’m inviting everyone. Some might not want to come. So be it. Personally, I’m not giving that person so much power. And if I’m boycotted, there’s nothing I can do about it.


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