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In Praise of Families
December 10, 2012 - Jen Zbozny
Holidays are a perfect lens through which we look at our families. When we begin to make our holiday plans, the framework for everything is about arranging all the details specific to our family members.
Whoever is cooking knows whether the family prefers mashed potatoes with gravy, or twice baked with cheese. They know how much celery in the stuffing is too much, and whether there are food allergies. The family members look forward to their favorite desserts and everyone works hard to come up with the right gift for the right person.
In my family everyone knows I'm creeped out by eggs, Dad can't have any milk, Eve loves cucumbers, and Granny doesn't. She likes hot spicy things and so does my brother. Oh, and one of the dogs loves citrus fruit but the others don't.
If you've ever prepared to visit a foreign country, visiting a different family can be like that, because families are like their own countiries. You know the rules, shortcuts, possible hot buttons, political unrest areas, and colloquialisms in your own family, but another family's is probably different. You're best off to read the guide books, study photographs, get a map, and take your passport.
Like your own home country, you have things you love about that that can't be found anyplace else and you long for it when you've been away awhile. For me with my family, it's our own particular kind of humor that brings me back. It's like no place else in the world. Even when there has been unrest or, dare I say it, bickering, it's my family's ability to find the same amusement in the same off the wall, quirky thing that I do, that reassures me. It makes me feel I'm home, because I am.
So next time you find yourself in unfamiliar territory of a new family, or in the odd area of momentary political unrest in your own family, think of the gift that your own family truly is. Think of how it has its own language, and food, and culture, and sense of humor. Then think of how much of a blessing it is to have this "country of your own".
If you're me, it makes you realize how all holidays are about families, especially Christmas. And how, regardless of your religious tradition, one of the truest miracles of Christmas is the gift of family.
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