So after surviving finals, a trip through befogged London, and the venus flytrap-like JFK I am at home. It has been a funny couple of days. Okay, not all so funny as British Airways did lose my bag with all of my clothes and Christmas presents for people (now if I hadn't actually bought stuff for people it would be a great excuse, but I did so having my bag in airport limbo with some sort of fragile stuff is a bit disconcerting), but it is weird being with family.
The holidays are stressful. I know this, yet when I was little I had an exclusively positive view of it all somewhere along the lines of: toys, cookies, lights, yeah! I still really like all of those things, but what has become clearer to mean in the meantime is that for most people holiday gatherings are less than 100% enjoyable. I don't mean the kind with friends or co-workers, but the exclusively family kind. Families are well...odd.
As the old adage goes "you can choose your friends, but not your family," and it is true because the people in your family you would never choose. What tends to bond families together more than shared interests is shared experience as a family you have gone through so much together that you haven't gone through with anyone else. That, however, is a two way street. You can understand each other better because you have experienced so much together, yet at the same time tempers are quick to erupt because there is so much mutual background (on the negative side including disagreements, spats, just things that have gotten annoying over the decades) and with the informality of family there is just less politeness cordiality laying around.
I just think that it is funny that there is this huge pressure to spend the holidays with family, where for so many people it is hardest for them to really have a good time and relax when they are surrounded by crazy uncle Larry, gossipy aunt Veronica, or a curmudgeon of a parent. It really makes you think [cliched irony of phrase intended].