A non-dysfunctional holiday tale

Normal families happen sometimes, a member of Salon's community, Table Talk, testifies.

By Salon Staff

Published December 7, 2007 7:50PM (EST)

Family Life

Arlene Explains It All

Jeanny - 06:09 pm Pacific Time - Dec 3, 2007 - #1116 of 1208

I would say I'm blessed with a large, caring, mostly functional family, but that would imply that it came by accident, without a lot of hard work and good parenting by (mostly) my mother.

We have walked through some terrible stuff together and had other things threaten the fabric of our family, but we've stuck in there and worked it out and emerged the stronger for it. We all have wounds and I would be lying if I didn't admit that there are still tender spots. When we get together, though, it's fun and lively, with good conversation, laughter, tears (we're a sappy lot), convivial noise, and deep love.

Life has brought us all to different places geographically, and we are spread out in California, Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula, New York, and North Carolina. Two of my three brothers are not great communicators, and it may be several months between conversations with them. And yet, I know if any one of us needed help, someone would make sure that one of us was able to respond and be truly helpful.

We have Christmases straight out of Norman Rockwell and Currier & Ives. It's not that we're reaching for some ideal of perfection, but that we've found what has meaning for us, and we keep working to re-create it with meaning.

We're usually all (or most of us) together for several days. Not every moment is a Kodak moment, and over the years there have been some intense explosions, some of which were fueled by alcohol abuse. And yet, we've never come to the end of the holiday and gone to our distant homes without working it out.

We love each other and, nearly always, we like each other. They are the most important people in my life.

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