The time when you cohabitate with people you haven’t spent much time with for over 10 years.
The time when you sleep in your old uncomfortable bed, underneath your old posters of Michael Jackson (or in the case of my brother-Kit from Knight Rider).
‘If you think you’re Enlightened-try spending a week with your family’ Ram Dass declared. Very true as- despite a strong and intense yoga practice and still doe-eyed and blissed out from my 3rd teacher training-I thought I was able to transcend those pitfalls of family drama.
‘Enlightenment is ego’s ultimate disappointment.’-Chongyam Trungpa
Well, I certainly wasn’t anywhere close to being there because I fell back into the old patterns of family dynamics. Even worse, I thought my new yogini ‘persona’ could teach my Fox news watching father and smart-ass brother a thing or two.
By Dec 26th, I found myself in tears. I thought I could Zen everyone into the image of the perfect family -everyone with the same political views and without the baggage that comes with spending time with the people who not only know how to push your buttons- they are the ones who put them there!!
Then, I got a call from one of my best and craziest friends. She listened to me cry and feel sorry for myself for a good 30 minutes.
45 minutes later, through the ice and snow of backwoods Pennsylvania-my girl Christine shows up, 2 kids in car seats, Rum and Coke in the drink holder.
We then spent the rest of my trip at her place, playing Dance Dance Revolution and embarrassing ourselves with our old school dance moves in front of her 8 year old.
Ironically, as we drank and danced (and probably weren’t the models for a perfect holiday family card ) it reminded me of my own dysfunctional family.
My parents (who had me at 18 and 19 years of age) and my young uncles and aunt who got hammered every Christmas Midnight Mass. We’d spend Xmas together including my uncle who moved to California but flew home when he could and cried when he had to leave my Grandmother’s home.
Later, my aunt hosted in a house filled with handicapped dogs my uncle adopted over the years and where the Christmas lights stayed up year ’round. The dynamic was always the same. Too much food was eaten-too much drinking and an Airing of Grievances that resulted in my Grandmother calling for peace. At least one gift was found to be re-gifted from the year before (usually from my Aunt Diane) and we’d drunkenly call my uncle in CA trying to catch up a year’s worth of events into a garbled 30 second clip.
Much like the kind of holiday my friend’s kids could expect years from now (and with one Aunt Autumn in tow drinking rum and cokes).
We are all part of a fucked up family in some way. Maybe your’s wears better clothes and argues capital gain tax laws while your Aunt pops Xanax-but it’s all the same.
Family reminds us that despite our new fancy jobs and techy gadgets they don’t understand-that we are all ONE in the Universe. Yes, even your aunt who wears scrunchies and your cousin fresh out of rehab. Some of these people even changed your diapers or wiped your tears. You are no better or worse than these people and we are all deserving of love and joy and peace.
But, if all else fails- make sure you have a friend like I do who will come and Search and Rescue your ass!!