Tolerance (Krissie)

The posts on my Wednesday blog got me thinking.

I’m naive and romantic to assume everyone else has Norman Rockwell, when it fact probably nobody does. That’s why Norman Rockwell paintings are so beloved — they’re an idealized view of everyday lives. And I’m naive to say a little tolerance will fix things. (In fact, my father worked for the Saturday Evening Post in the ’50s and early ’60, and he hated Rockwell’s work.  Thought it was corny.  It was, but that was part of its charm.  It represents a world that doesn’t really exist but could.
Tolerance does help matters, though some people you just want to kill anyway, and they probably deserve it.  Deb Dixon has a signature on her emails – I forget the exact phrase, but it’s “Any day I don’t kill someone is a good day.”  People are infuriating, if you let them get to you.  I try (sometimes too hard) not to let them get to me.
There’s a saying in Al-anon – don’t judge other people’s outsides by your insides. (I always get it confused). In other words, just because you feel broken and lost inside, don’t assume everyone you see, all the happy families, aren’t as lost and broken as you are.  I see fathers and sons in stores and I think “why can’t it be like that in my family?”  Well, it can’t, and I need to accept that.  One thing that always impresses Crusie is that I’m so close to my kids.  That they call me all the time and ask my advice and ask for help.  Which is better than never hearing from them, but each extreme has its drawbacks.

I hate to tell you, but there’s a line from a Jewel song that I really believe (and who would think I’d be quoting Jewel?)  Only kindness matters.  In a way I think that’s true.  Life is so full of pain and disappointment and anger and sorrow, and a little bit of kindness goes a long way.

I wish I had a big family at Thanksgiving and Christmas and had the drunken uncle and the obnoxious BIL.  We had that in my parents’ generation.  Maybe those sort of gatherings are becoming a thing of the past.  I guess the holidays just make me miss family.

Anyway, lots to think about.  I’m glad we brought Refab back — I get so much from comments.

9 thoughts on “Tolerance (Krissie)

  1. Jessie says:

    Holidays are one of those difficult times. Expectations are that they are all about family.

    I come from a big family and my husband had a moderate size family. And for years the expectation was that we would spend part of the time with his family and part of the time with mine. And we tried to be fair and divy up everything (Nobody cared about Halloween in those days all that much so it was exempt. Maybe that is when it started to be a big deal. You could stay home and just deal with trick or treaters then go out to an adult party afterward and not worry that your father-in-law was going to lay a guilt trip on you.) But then when my husband’s siblings started to marry, it became really complex – we are talking about 4 sets of in-law expectations. Most of my family had the decency to move out of state and be too poor to travel on holidays So we only had my mother’s usual guilt trip to put up with: “Why I guess Daddy and I will be all alone this year. That’s okay. You do what you want,” (She did not want to do the holiday. She wanted one of us to come and do the dinner etc for her). After about 10 years of this, I set a new rule. Christmas one year at my in-laws, one year at my Mom’s and the next year at home so we could start our own tradition. All other holidays were exempt from family. We usually spent Thanksgiving working on house projects.

    Now both sets of parents are gone. Our siblings are caught up in their children and grandchildren and we have no children so we are on our own. And we have friends over or go to our friends who also have no children. And it is wonderful. Once you cut free of the family expectations, life becomes much less stressful.

  2. Maine Betty says:

    Jewel is right.
    I miss my kids at the holidays. This is a neat trick, because I didn’t have kids. But I see my nephews and nieces come home and my friends’ kids, and I feel a large hole that I am able to ignore most of the year. Of course, since they don’t actually exist, they are pretty dang wonderful low-maintenance people, just like in the paintings.

  3. We do have glorious family holidays, big house parties with games and costumes, but it is a lot of work . . . and I am not talking about the cooking and the planning. There’s emotional work. You can’t hold grudges, you can’t keep score, you can’t talk about people behind their backs, you can’t feel put upon because one year you are doing more than your share or feel overly guilty because the next year you aren’t. You respect boundaries, you don’t force anyone to play charades, you don’t take it personally when someone needs to be alone. Of course, one person can’t do this work by herself; it is a team effort. And I totally respect that many people are in situations where trying has become pointless. I know that it is a gift to have a family full of stable, good-hearted people, but even with that blessing we have to earn our celebrations.

  4. Thea says:

    To judge by what you’ve written, Kathleen, you earn the blessing of celebration through your kindness. Good show.

  5. Reb says:

    I had that inside/outside thing slammed home to me a few years ago through dreadful circumstances. We had friends who were lovely people, the kind who had it all together. Nice kids, great jobs, good house in the country, got on with everyone, the kind of people who you go on holiday with and they have everything packed and the dishes done while you’re still groaning your way out of bed in the morning. I felt a bit inferior.

    It turned out that he was hitting the kids, and when his wife left him, he hung himself.

    Any time I’m tempted to compare my life with someone else’s, I remember him. You have to know someone very well to be sure you know what’s going on inside.

  6. Lisa says:

    Kathleen pointed out there has to be emotional work done if those happy gatherings are going to be, well, happy, and if your family won’t do the work, you can’t do it for them. It took me a long time to get to the point that I could accept that I couldn’t make everything okay for everybody, so I had to just make it okay for me, my husband, and our kids.

    I could have big family gatherings with all the traditions and stuff, but the guilt/abuse/insanity isn’t good for me, and it isn’t good for my kids. I could probably go back into duck and cover mode and survive, but I’ve kept my kids far away from it. They’d take one look at the extended rage-dance-mix and lose their minds.

    My motto is accept reality, forgive if you can, and keep the crazy at arms length. It’s contagious, and this way I might manage to avoid passing it on.

  7. Kelly S says:

    This sounds wonderful! I too have no kids but fur babies & they have a hard time with us being gone over the holidays due to parent expectations. We at least worked out Thanksgiving with one side and Christmas with the other & then flip it the next year. Occasionally, my folks have joined us with the in-laws, but the chaos gets to them too.

  8. I think about that, sometime. What would life be like if we never adopted. And I know I’d feel a hole inside. I realized that I really love children, and since my grandchildren are so far away I need to interact with other children. Obviously they don’t have to be related, since my kids are adopted and my older grandchild isn’t Tim’s. I have a habit of looking for family anywhere I can find it.

  9. Jill says:

    Joe and I are alone some Holidays. And that is ok. It depends on elder daughters in laws what their schedule is. The kids appreciate that we are no-pressure parents. The kids insist that they stay home Christmas–good for them ! Younger (unmarried) daughter goes with the flow

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