We Bring The Dysfunction To The Holiday

I watch movies and read book and hear about other people's lives and traditions and think, "yes, that's what I want for my family, too." Fun things, like going for a Christmas tree together or driving around to look at Christmas lights in the neighborhood. I'm not asking for much, mind you. Simple things. Easy things. Things that should just happen happily.

I live with dysfunction. That's the problem. My family is dysfunctional.

You'd think I'd just know this by now and stop trying, but I continue to make the attempt. I do. And I get frustrated all over again. It's an exercise in frustration, is what it is. At least I'm getting exercise somehow, right?

To address the Christmas lights thing, its partly not my family's fault. The family actually does enjoy driving around looking at Christmas lights. The problem is our 'hood. Or lack of one. It's like trick-or-treating, which is also a tradition that's dysfunctioning in our home. We log 25 miles a night driving to the houses of friends and family around the county on Halloween because we don't have a neighborhood out here in the country. Our kids have never knocked on a stranger's door and asked for candy. The 18 year old admitted this year that the thought sounds kind of scary to her.

Our kids are being raised to be defunct. I am creating dysfunction. Great.

And because we live way outside a 'hood, we have to drive those same 25 miles in one night trying to find lights worth stopping to see. Icicle lights hanging from a porch roof aren't as amazing as all that, and neither are a pair of reindeer in your front lawn. Those two combined are getting there, but when we think of seeing lights, we're looking for LIGHTS. Not the Griswalds, because that's a level of awesome achieved by very few mortals anywhere, so I'm not delusional in my expectations. But sadly, our county is lacking people who love to decorate the outside of their homes.

Locals, if you know of a good house year after year (or have spotted a new one this year), please share the info!

But the whole getting of the tree tradition? That is a bust. That's where my family is all to blame. Starting with me. Back in the days post-Alaska, we bought a real tree for our living room every December. And by "we" I mean "me." The first year we piled the kids in the truck (we had 2 of them) and put the dog in the back and headed out. The dog jumped out of the moving truck onto the highway and miraculously suffered absolutely no injuries. So we stuffed her in the front of the truck with the 4 of us and headed to the tree farm up the road. Once there we walked around the field of pines and spent the next hour arguing on whether we loved short and fat trees or tall and thin trees. And then another half hour trying to find one that we actually liked, no matter what size or shape. After that, Sam refused to ever go with me again, so I made him keep the kids home while my dad and I went tree shopping in the field in the middle of a PA winter.

We've since bought an artificial tree (for various reasons), but I do love me some real greens in the house and out, so I still have this notion in my head that taking the family to gather pine for decor should be a fun and happy thing. Some day I'll learn. Maybe.

This year, Becky and Micah and I jumped in the Gator to gather pine because the boys all complained that there was slim picking last year and I had better take a ladder if short little me was going. I scoffed, and we drove across the road, through dad's fields, over the river and through the woods (yes, literally) to the top of the hill and over to the bank of pine trees. I grabbed my pruning shears and invited the kids to come help carry the branches to the back of the Gator. Micah refused to get off the vehicle. And fussed his protest the whole time we were there. Becky was a trooper and drug all that I pruned despite the pine tar and berry thorns involved. This was not the fun time I envisioned it would be because Micah was not a happy camper. As far as he was concerned, he may as well be at the dentist's office. It just was unfun, and rather torturous. (And for the record, the boys were very wrong. There was an abundance of pine within my short little arm's reach. Clearly the boys just wanted out of the tradition.)

And then 100 yards from the bank of pines as we were coming down the hill toward the river on the way home, the Gator shut off. We had to walk home. Micah, shockingly, didn't protest as much as I though he would. But hey, it was a warm day, so there's that. And we exercised. So there's that, too. But honestly, is it too much to ask to just go cut pine branches as a fun family tradition?

Yes. The answer would be yes. Just ask Micah. He'll tell you.


1 comment:

Lauren Esherick said...

Karen I agree I do remember lots of people went al out on decorating for Christmas, but not so much any re. But last year we saw a great light display set to music you have to turn your radio to the right station and watch from inside your car. I do hope they are doing this again this year. It's located on either west scanner or west race st just turn right at the High School Track if your coming from 281. Thier is supposed to be a even bigger set to music light display in Johnstown behind the airport.