Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Visual Guide to Celebrating and Surviving the Holidays with Your Family

Ah, the holidays. A time to rejoice…

A time to reflect…

And a time to crumble.

The holidays can oft be a “perfect storm” of high tension, low energy and middling bouts of migraine-induced strokes…

Such adverse conditions can often lead to noticeable behavioral changes, chief among them helplessness, social isolation and inter-familial aggression, also known as “angry blood” or “this again.”

Because of these profoundly negative forces, one is unlikely to recover without dedicated psychopharmacological treatment, whether it be over-the-counter or left-of-the-highballs…

While by no means a cure-all, discerning the right medication is often that first significant step to a noticeable decrease in anger, anxiety, concern or even regard.

In fact, simply initiating a treatment process can give the suffering party a renewed sense of hope, permitting them the strength to once more enter the social arena…

Otherwise known as the holiday dinner table. It is here—where compliments go hand-in-hand with condemnation and reticence is seen as rebuke—that one’s resolve and mental progress will no doubt experience their greatest test.

Unlike typical peer gatherings, where one can find comfort in similar interests and experiences, the holiday dinner table is characterized by great discrepancies in age and perspectives, resulting in seemingly interminable periods of awkwardness and silence…

Punctuated only by an elder relative’s lengthy recount of their most recent and intimate medical exam.

Often the absence of common ground—coupled with unaddressed guilt over household disharmony—can cause hostilities to intensify…

Rapidly.

But rather than permit the situation to exacerbate feelings of despair and dislocation, one should take the opportunity to actively engage in society. In the case of a holiday dinner, this can easily be accomplished with a simple toast…

Of course, a family toast is nothing if not a minefield of inadvertent impropriety, since what to the speaker may seem like “playful ribbing” to others may read as “barely concealed hostility” or “outright slander.”

And so one’s genuine attempt at interpersonal connection can swiftly lead to renewed feelings of loneliness, shame, despondency and “angry blood”…

That’s when it’s time to excuse oneself from the social arena. This will give the individual a chance to collect their thoughts, disperse any ill notions and muster the will to breathe.

The injured party can now take a moment to address any conflicting emotions they may have about the holidays, such as both the desire for the perfect gathering and the longing for some sort of sudden wormhole or other means of immediate escape…

While also reflecting on personal misgivings, like honestly believing one’s mom when she says, “Your presence during the holidays is the best gift you can give me.”

Soon with greater perspective will come greater acceptance of yours and others’ limitations. You’ll come to see that most family arguments are the result of misunderstandings and apprehension, not hatred and spite. You'll also start to feel an overabundance of good will, an overwhelming sense of good cheer and overall numbness in your legs, arms and lower jaw…

That’s when you’ll realize the half-tab of Valium you secretly took while pretending to be asleep in the backseat of your parents’ car on the drive over is having the most pleasing interaction with all the liquor you ingested, resulting in a very, very relaxing holiday indeed.

So from my family to yours--and with special gratitude to my brother, Marcello, for being such a good sport with this shoot--I wish you the merriest of merry occasions and a Happy New Year!

9 comments:

Robin said...

Picture #11 is something we experience every holiday with my Grandma's stories of her latest ailments / illness. Basically she overexaggerates. You have a headache, she has a migraine.

Katherine said...

Love the giant bottle of Canada Dry on the table. Is that a magnum?

Ray Avito said...

The dreaded "this again"...*shudders*

This cracked me up!

Susan said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Susan

http://www.car-insurance-choices.com

Christine said...

That experience is both familiar and scarry. I have PTSD from family visits. I am pretty serious about that. Your depiction brought some levity. Where can I get that half tab of valium you referred to?

yellojkt said...

That picture of your dad is a classic.

JPB said...

The first photo (Woman in Red Sweater) is astounding. Really.
And the last one of your Dad just makes me smile. What a face.

JPB said...

PS Is Susan selling car insurance?

TheBigLife said...

Thank you, Francesco Marciuliano, thank you.