Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Family Day

Last week it was Valentines Day and today is 'Family Day', well, at least here in Ontario it is. These things do tend to go together; first you fall in love and then you have a family. At least, that's how it used to be.

I love the idea of 'Family Day' - a day to be with the family and enjoy each other's company but my experience with the reality is that this isn't always the case. Having family together – especially if you have teenagers – can be quite a painful and uncomfortable experience.

Our family unit of four went to Prague one year for Christmas. While we did have a fantastic time it was mainly due to three things; 1) the sons had a separate room from ours 2) they largely did what they wanted and 3) they weren't teenagers any more. I knew we were in for an interesting holiday when I handed our passports in at the check-in desk at Gatwick; none of us had the same last name. For reasons that aren't worth going into here, my passport was still in my maiden name and my sons don't share the same name. The woman looked at our passports and then looked at the four of us with a very quizzical look. I said, 'yes, we are a family – a very modern family – we all have our own identity.'

Since the husband and I got together over 20 years ago, we have formed and reformed our family around the different people who are a part of it. The husband coined the phrase 'unit' when we were first together. Given our unusual set up; unit works for us. Over the years, the sons have brought many people into our lives; some have lived with us for a period of time others just for a few weeks. As we have lived together we have found a rhythm and a way to be a 'unit' that has not only worked for us but it seems to work well for those who are a part of our unit.

The reality of our 'unit' is that we are all very far flung and so when we do connect, it is usually for a period of time that then becomes a 'holiday.' It doesn't always run smoothly – to say the least. In fact, 'National Lampoon's Vacation (Christmas and European) comes to mind for some of these gatherings. The real humour of these movies is the degree to which they so accurately mirror real life. There is a fine line between comedy and tragedy; which just about sums up the family holiday.

Happy Family Day – from Our Unit to yours.

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