Family Ties

I am writing this blog from our condo in the mountains on our family ski holiday.  Sounds good in theory, doesn’t it?!  Three powder-filled days of snow, skiing and snoozing (afternoon naps are high on my priority list).  Alas, reality is quite different.  Beautiful springtime weather (in December) equals rain, green lawns, little snow, zero skating, snowmobiling or toboganning, and therefore several stir-crazy children (big and small alike).  With five adult children, several significant others, and two grandchildren, it has been an exercise in patience.  Don’t get me wrong – we are definitely making memories!  Most of them are good memories!!  But there are certain family members whose sole purpose in life seems to be to make me humble.  Or angry.  Or both.  It’s easy to be a “Stress Expert” when you are not under stress.  Meditation, no problem!  Yoga, absolutely!  Cooking and cleaning up after 11 people – FORGET IT!!  Apparently too many people in a confined space is the recipe for family stress.  Add alcohol and stir, and you are sure to bring out the best and worst in people.

But what REALLY upset me (yes, it’s a long list) was my REACTION to the events.  I really thought I had an evolved consciousness that would transcend petty family squabbles.  Certainly a year of training in this area helped me to stop short of actually requesting certain people leave the building (and my life) immediately.  But I still feel that I should somehow be able to handle things, and people (especially family), better. 

Stress occurs when we expect reality (or people, or ourselves) to be different/better than they are.  If only we could change THEM (external locus of control), then we would be fine.  But that’s not reality – that’s nirvana (not the band). The ugly truth is that all we can ever control is ourselves – our emotions, our thoughts, our reactions.  And since no firearms were used (yet), no police called, no bleeding, no divorces, with 11 people in the house, is this enough to qualify for a “successful family holiday?”  Perhaps not in Hollywood, but here in the real world, maybe this is as good as it gets.  Perhaps the real lesson is about being kind to myself and others in spite of the fact that we are not perfect.  Perhaps life IS a survival story after all.  Despite the lack of snow and flaring tempers, at the end of the week, we have survived as a family, and have some great memories to remember – and a few not-so-great ones that we will hopefully soon forget.


  1. Thanks for sharing your story, Catherine! It rings true. Many of us seem to go home for the holidays, with our own enjoyable expectations, however we typically do find it to be a recipe for stress. The beauty lies in that we do tend to forget the stress, and do it again year after year – which either makes us all insane or all hopeful that one year the “successful family holiday” will no longer be elusive.

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