Tuesday, December 29, 2009

“... a little more than kin and less than kind” - Hamlet **

Well, Christmas has come and gone and we’re girding our loins for New Year’s…..

I hope everyone had the kind of holiday they REALLY wanted. Ours was quiet—just my daughter, my son, my grandson and me. [Photo is of my small pile of gifts for them—lots of gift cards….]

I often wonder if my kids miss having a more extended family to celebrate with. When I was a kid, we had at least one huge holiday gathering of my dad’s family. He was one of ten children—the last remaining sibling, my aunt Ruth, passed away on Christmas Day. Seven of those 10 children made it to adulthood and had children of their own, so it was quite a large group that would gather either at our house or my one uncle’s place. I liked it because I had girl cousins my age I could hang out with—a respite from all those brothers.

My mother’s family was much smaller—she had 1 sister and 1 brother, each of whom had 2 children. Gatherings of the Higgins clan were very subdued, but it was a decent size crowd nonetheless. And I adored my grandparents, so I always enjoyed my holidays with them.

If there were tensions, I wasn’t aware of it. Everybody seemed happy to me. [I wonder what age you do start to pick up on any vibes of family disharmony?]

When my kids were little, we had their dad’s family—about 18 altogether. And this group was usually good for some sort of dramatic dysfunction…. [My husband's grandfather once told his grandmother she had 2 choices: either keep quiet or shut-up.] It was a somewhat motley crew. [And me the lone Catholic, liberal Democrat amongst all of these Protestant Republicans….. ]

Now, everyone is scattered and family ties are shattered. It’s kind of hard to stay close to cousins who accuse you of being the cause of your father’s suicide. [As my husband’s nephew did. And my husband helped raise him as his own father was absent. ] It’s pretty difficult to maintain any sort of connection when relatives move far away and don’t bother to respond to cards or e-mails. [Like many on both sides of the fam did…. Escaping?]

And so, we have dwindled down to just our little band of four. We’re a funny little group; we have our moments of dysfunction, but we try to put the “FUN” in that word. I know soon there will be spouses—and the inevitable demands for my kid’s presence with those new families. I’m preparing myself for that. It’s cool—those first years after my divorce, I gave my ex and his mother the preference on holidays so the kids wouldn’t have to be pulled between two houses on those days. I’m willing to bend a little when they have in-laws to appease. Just so long as I get some face time…. [And first dibs on any future grandkids or great grandkids] And perhaps we can somehow successfully meld the families together.

Although, based on some of the posts I’ve read this morning, maybe our little band of four isn’t so bad after all…….

** now I bet his family's holiday gatherings sucked.


  1. Very sensible ,sensitive and well written post, revolving around family issues and holiday gatherings.
    I've enjoyed reading it.

  2. thanks DUTA! and welcome to the party....

  3. I'm from a small family, married into a large family but there is so much dysfunction there (not that mine was anywhere close to Norman Rockwell) that we go to the gatherings for the fun but refuse to get dragged into the drama.

  4. My immediate family is small - Christmas of 2001 was just four of us (my dad and husband passed away that year). But it was sort of sweet. I am now married to a man from a large family and dysfunction is their last name -- in oh so many ways. I think children just enjoy the day as long as they are with people they love. My son has no cousins in Canada so he was usually the only child - he didn't mind.

    I think as long as we make it about family and less about the trimmings its all very good and yours may have been small but it sounds like it was very nice and no hint of drama.

  5. Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas celebration. Well said dear one! I had a fabulous holiday with my dh and my son and his wife and their five children. My gorgeous grands!! We had a blast!!!
    I am feeling so blessed...hope you are too?
    Hugs and Happy New Year