With the holiday break upon us, many will be spending a spate of “quality” time with family, loved-ones and other assorted acquaintances. In spinning the television dial (for those younger among our readers it is what we elders used to do to change the channels from a knob attached to the front of the device instead of clicking a remote control from the comfort of the sofa), one can find nearly as many movies dedicated to the strain of interaction with these folks as we can films extoling the virtues of the season. Even good-old George Bailey forgot his “Wonderful Life” for a moment when feeling the pressure of a bumbling uncle, a sick kid and a demanding domestic calendar.
We work ourselves to the breaking point to create perfection – only to have it ignored, at best, or disparaged, at worst, by those to whom we dedicated our effort. We cry out, “I’m sorry you don’t like the dinner I woke up at dawn to prepare for you and your underserving clan!” Yet, is seeking appreciation really the point? Naturally occurring sibling rivalry, assorted misunderstanding and every manner of decades-old petty grievance have percolated into a concentrated concoction that is as toxic as it is unnecessary.
It is not to imagine that there aren’t real, legitimate, and powerful reasons to hold a grudge, but one wonders if it really matters. These people, for the most part, are here to stay. They will be at the table next year, and the year after. We will be at their funerals – and if not, they will attend ours. These ties, even if painful and imperfect at times, deserve our commitment – at least for a day or two per year! Ignore the insult and look for the good. Or, is it possible that we’ve become part of the problem?