Like all the best families, we have our share of eccentricities, of impetuous and wayward youngsters and of family disagreements
~ Queen Elizabeth II
The sidewalks are lit with bright candy canes, sparkling snowflakes and big red bows. You see petite red berries under the blanket of frost and there seems to be smells of the season everywhere. Gingerbread, pine, cinnamon – all tickling your nose and prompting memories to dart through your mind.
As magical as the holidays can be, they can also feel tumultuous, chaotic and draining. Emotionally. Physically. Financially.
So, why we chose to remodel our kitchen and family room between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year may forever remain a mystery.
Perhaps, my core has been missing the delight of my childhood dysfunction. I grew up in a very loving, caring, and screaming home. One to six of us would communicate loudly – with either cheer or complaint – every day.
The yelling wasn’t abusive. Though it probably wasn’t necessary in most scenarios. But, it was the norm in my family…and so, it became comfortable and expected.
At the age of 22, I came home from graduate school for Christmas break. It had been the first time I had lived completely alone. Not in a dorm and not with a roommate. I had been surprised by how much I enjoyed the solitude. The quiet.
However, it didn’t take me long – 15 minutes would be a generous estimate – to revert to the pattern that seemingly ran so deeply in my family of origin.
I suddenly stopped myself between deep breaths (to gather more oxygen for a more boisterous response). The thought hit me.
“We don’t have Happy Holidays here, we celebrate Happy Holler-Days!” I said with a chuckle that quickly turned to a veil of guilt. There was an immediate silence, surely to be followed with the biggest holiday hollering yet.
The stillness did not become censorship. Instead, a snicker verified the lone observation I had made. It was my dad’s giggle and grin confirming we were probably not the only family to celebrate the Holler-Days…but we may be one of the few to embrace the Holler-Days.
Since we’ve come ‘clean’ as a family and our ‘secret’ communication style is discussed openly, it’s allowed us to become aware of the pattern we have.
Once I identified my default mode of communication during stressful times, I was able to make some conscious and deliberate changes. I may not be successful 100% of the time…and I’ve found other – unhealthy - means of ‘hollering’ – sarcasm, passive-aggressiveness. However, I know my triggers and my patterns, so I have the ability to pause and reframe the situation. When I step out of the deeply rooted habits, it encourages others to challenge their own patterns.
Although, I’ll admit a major remodeling during the holidays has pushed me closer to a rendition of my childhood Holler-days than I’ve been in 20 years…that’s not really my core’s default anymore. I’ve almost spent as much time mastering a new means of communicating as I had invested in the holler-days!
I’m taking in deep breaths (of construction dust) and exhaling lots of love and gratitude…and sending holiday happiness to everyone!
Believe. Create. Live.
© 2014 Rebecca G. Townsend