As the holidays approach, starting with Thanksgiving (I just don’t consider Ground Hog Day the start of the holiday season), a million tender memories come to mind: making brownies with my children, decorating the trees, their eyes full of wonder as we went downtown to look at the store windows all decorated for Christmas. Christmas is truly my favorite time of year, and always has been. But I know that for many, it brings up other memories too, of family dissent, challenges, and disappointments. No one gets off scott free in life, the bittersweet for my family at holidays now is the absence of my late son Nick. We will always miss him and his crazy antics over the holidays, and at other times. So we all have our tough moments amid the joy.
As the only child of only children, I never had much family until I had my own. My mother avoided the little family she had, and left when I was six, and I had no first cousins, so my only glimpse of family life was through my grandparents. My grandfather was one of six siblings. They were extremely close, all the siblings and their spouses dined together once a week, and my earliest memories of them were of the battles they would have at the dinner table. There was always one brother not speaking to another. And my favorite memory of its kind is of my great uncle complimenting my grandmother on the venison she had served for dinner. When asked how she had gotten it, she mentioned that another of the great uncles had sent it to her. The one inquiring immediately spat out what he was eating, glared at the brother he was angry at, and refused to eat his dinner. For a 6 or 7 year old that was pretty fascinating stuff, and intriguing behaviour: adults behaving like children.
It is possible that no one can annoy us like our own families, because no one knows us better, or where the soft spots are. I never really missed having siblings until I grew up. Now, seeing my own children and powerful bond they share with each other, I wish I had a sister or brother. My kids get along surprisingly well, something I have always encouraged among them. But I can also see how easy it would be to get angry at a sister, or at a parent, or an in law. And how quickly the forest fires start and the chasms widen. I am always saddened to hear people say that they have a brother or a sister whom they haven’t seen in fifteen or twenty years. What a terrible waste of the relationship they could share.
On this Thanksgiving, I am deeply grateful for my many wonderful children and the bond we and they share, and I am grateful too for my otherwise tiny family, the ex husband who attends our holidays, the dear friends who have become like sisters and brothers to me, for lack of real ones. Maybe the thing to remember is that the vendettas just aren’t worth the grief they cause, and maybe if one can resist casting the first stone, or reacting to a slight or affront, it won’t turn into a major war later. I think family relationships are so worth preserving—in the end, what else is there that truly matters? Forgiveness seems such an essential part of human relationships, and no one wants to be the first to give in. Sometimes, in all relationships, for the greater good, you just have to.
I hope that your holidays are feud-free. Family feuds are so stressful for all concerned, even innocent observers. It says something to me all these years later that I still remember how angry my great uncle looked when he spat out the venison, how distressed my grandmother looked, and how saddened my grandfather seemed. Even a 6 year old could see it. I wish you peace during these holidays, not just in the Middle East or among nations, but at home, where it counts most. I hope that your family brings you solace, joy and comfort, during the holidays and always. World peace may just be easier to achieve than peace in some families, but I think peace at home, with our families if far more important, essential to our well being, and dearer to our hearts.
Good luck—-and try not to throw the bread rolls at your sister’s head at dinner, or strangle your annoying brother in law. It’s a challenge….
Leave a Comment
If you would like to make a comment, please fill out the form below.
I’ll agree with you that it is possible that no one can annoy us like our own families. They all know my Achilles heel. Ouch! My sister is beloved, but we are polar opposites, politically, so we have agreed not to ever discuss politics again. We also branch off into our various religious beliefs. I suppose I am a little offbeat for our family, a little more socially conscious, more thrifty. I’m the one who takes home the doggy bag from the fancy restaurant, intending it for my own next meal. Where we differ is what makes us beautiful to each other, I suppose, in a kooky sort of way. If we were all the same, those would be some silent holiday dinners. Here’s to a little noise, dear Ms. Steele, on a holiday; silence is too deep for me. Give me some raucous family memebrs to plunder for ideas for new books! *wink*
Peace and Joy to you and your family this Holiday Season. Love, Joann
lol Throw the bread rolls. That one made me laugh.
I always wished I had a sister, but then again people tell me it is not red roses and chocolates. So I guess I should be satisfied with the four big brothers I have. I think family is the most important part of one’s life.
I also believe families are very important.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Oh, btw, welcome to blogger land. Technology, don’t you just love it.
Have a lovely christmas,
Lovely post, Ms. Steel!
[…] As the holidays approach, starting with Thanksgiving (I just don’t consider Ground Hog Day the start of the holiday season), a million tender memories come to mind: making brownies with my children, decorating the trees, their eyes full …[Continue Reading] […]
I really enjoyed that part of your blog. I am from Fiji and even though we do not celebrate thanksgiving here, it sounds pretty interesting. I really love reading your books, esp, Summers End.
Great post…thank you. On several levels you remind your readers you are a person too. Thank you for sharing your stories.
As I was foster child, having children was a huge blessing. I have been blessed with 6 So I plan and make sure that the decor is like eye candy (to them) and that special touches abound. (this year one is fascinated with The Gingerbread Man) I take note of special toys that are mentioned and really listen to their desires (affordable of course). We ignore the creaks of our over 40 bodies and hang the lights on our home. Each year We go to see a neighborhood light display, Im sure some of these folks work in studios as their displays cerainly cannot be bought in stores. We bake and laugh and sing(Dad plays piano) (sometimes he strays off xmas and plays Billy Joel tunes) 🙂 It is as close to Norman Rockwell as we can be. The older kids come and we all eat and play a game called Cranium..More laughter ensues. Simple but fun. You realize when older, what these little ones will remember. Just ask the older kids 🙂 If there are any bad feelings mulling about, they are forgot for this day. I think its a sacrifice worth having. We should practice this day more often! 🙂 Have a blessed Christmas!
I did a post on the word “family” this past summer, I think it relates. Check out http://podictionary.com/?p=835 and have a great holiday season.
TO LOVE IN THE TWILIGHT
Dear Mrs. Steel,
I have a earthy, up close and personal love story in the form of letters to and from two seniors in far away countries
via e-mail. Most interesting, I believe,
and if I had the finished ability you posess, I would do it myself. Even though
I am fairly good at writing short items for
newspaper announcements (weddings, obituaries, meetings, etc.) –I am sure this story deserves the best presentation,
as only like Danielle Steel could do it.
Are you interested, this is over a year and a quarter period (August 2007 to present) between an older lady in the heartland of USA and a British geophysisist
employed and living in Australia.
I do not know any other way to reach you,
so I am taking this opportunity hoping it will come to you attention, and that I may
be fortunate enough to hear from you.
Eva Parker Huss 618-524-1096
I am one of your fans who enjoys the wonderful books you write & this too!!!!Nice surprise…………
oh….love you story but i think better you put some great pics in your posting 😉
It is very warm from the read. I often recollect Christmas holidays in the childhood. It was super… Our family is very amicable…
I live in Russia and I love your books very much and films of them. And it’s great that I can tell – thank you, Ms. Steel
The end of my mother’s life and her death are very similar to your beloved son Nick’s, and missing her has made the holidays all the more difficult even though she died 19 years ago. Family feuds were very common, especially right afterward and when many people wanted to find someone to blame.
I still miss my mother, but am happy to say that the feuds are gone, at least for now. May you have very happy holidays!
I hope that your holidays are feud-free. Family feuds are so stressful for all concerned, even innocent observers. It says something to me all these years later that I still remember how angry my great uncle looked when he spat out the venison, how distressed my grandmother looked, and how saddened my grandfather seemed. Even a 6 year old could see it.
Just wanted to Wish You A MERRY CHAISTMAS!
Powerful thougthts. It’s all so complicated, really, because it is so dependent on everyone. I am coming to realize that I can only do what I can do, and part of what I have to do is to let go of unreasonable expectations!
Merry Christmas, and good things in the New Year.
I am an 84 year old romantic. I spent a lot of time today on the internet looking for your family picture. You look wonderful. Love will come again. You deserve it. Family is all there is. You have been blessed and hurt but your looks and spirit are strong. Happy Holidays. Love Tom
Merry Xmas! it felt good to read the messaqge, I have two children on my own,without them life would be very empty. although I have 4 brothers, for years we have not been able to spend Xmas in one house due to the fact that our parents divorced when we were very young, in 2008, our mother died, I am hoping that this is the last Xmas we would spend apart, our family will be united. thank you for the message,
Munyadziwa : South Africa
Thank you for sharing your lovely blog it is truly an honor to stop here and your so right. God bless you.
Dear Mrs Steel,
Having just read your book “His Bright Light” in one sitting…i found it impossible to put down…. i like millions of others had read many of your other books and found them so moving, but to bare your soul with this book so soon after his death was incredible. i checked him out on google and found the beautiful pictures of the memorial. But i have been devastated to see the monument to your wondeful friend julie. i have been unable to find put what happened to her, and although i do not wish to cause you further heartache, i wonder if you could direct me to anywhere i could read what happened to her?
I just read your story& i think bout some situations with relatives & even a dispute came about on facebook recently. hope you don’t mind but i used some of your quotes and added my own at the end. Im writing this in June not christmas time but really feuds can virtually happen at any given moment if uncaring thoughts are shared to fuel the fire!
But thoughtful stories that are shared can bring hope/light to an hot family feud:
a million tender memories come to mind: adults behaving like children: It is possible that no one can annoy us like our own families, because no one knows us better, or where the soft spots are. And how quickly the forest fires start and the chasms widen. I am always saddened to hear people say that they have a brother or a sister whom they haven’t seen in fifteen or twenty years. Family feuds are so stressful for all concerned, even innocent observers.
World peace may just be easier to achieve than peace in some families, but I think peace at home, with our families if far more important, essential to our well being, and dearer to our hearts. I would like to add by saying hope the fire is put out and the dust has settled but if Not that’s TRULY A SHAME! Some words are better left unsaid & I believe some prayers are needed here! oksi maka(until then)!