Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Christmas Family Dinner - MANN

I've been thinking about the ‘Family Christmas Dinner' and wondering whose family I am wanting to sit at my table. And possibly even more importantly, whose family am I disregarding when I say the Family Dinner? Am I assuming that everybody who is connected in any way is my family? That’s right, and it is reality when we announce “‘how the family is growing with each baby and in-law”. But, whose family? Mine? . . . Ours? Either mine or my spouse’s parents? Where does the family begin? Always with the living? You might be asking, “Why on earth would I be questioning the age old tradition of the Christmas Family Dinner?”

After reading some blogs about the use of the word 'family' at Christmas time, I'm wondering if I call this, The MANN Family Christmas Dinner, or if I use the term 'having the family all home for Christmas'. By using this familiar term, am I missing the point that each one of my children has his or her own family? And, am I assuming that 'my family' can be their family with sons/daughters-in-laws/grandchildren & spouses/friends, or anybody who wants to come without definition? Am I trying to forget that there is a network of families within 'my' family that I'm not giving equal recognition with the use of the ownership 'my' word?

I have to admit I still like to have ‘my’ family around the table and draw the circle wide to include their families and anybody else who might want to come. That's nice, but is there another way of acknowledging that my kid's families may be different than what I'm really meaning. I gaze around the table with great pride, but with some caution, as I think 'my' family and everybody else’s is somehow a tribute to me? Something rings untrue about that.

Granted, our adult children may not know what it’s like to be 70 plus years old and want their family around their knees. But, the echo of this holds a hint that I may want to turn time back which doesn’t work well. All generations strive to find a balance in this for all ages. After all, we all claim a piece of ‘the family’, and so it should. Adult kids want to celebrate 'their' family; I know that to be true from sitting around their tables. And, I'm coming to realize, even though they like to get together with their siblings, in a busy world they probably want to do that in their own time. Is this the reason why the Christmas Breakaway 'Empty Nest' travel opportunities are huge?

We’re going to have ‘the family’ for Christmas very early in the season this year for whomever can come and then maybe we’ll do a fly-around without the sleigh and reindeers on Christmas Day and be a part of ‘the family’. . . at their house.

Donna Mann
Aggie's Storms (2007)
Aggie's Dream launched fall of 2010 http://www.donnamann.org/
Meadowlane MP3 Kid's Farm Stories http://meadowlane.homestead.com/


Peter Black said...

My wife and I have had a similar reckoning and realization, Donna, regarding our sons and their families.
We most often get together on Boxing Day, weather and roads permitting. We've long acknowledged their need to develop their own traditions as family units and to be available to their in-laws and extended families, as well.
Also, that we'll be glad to have them whenever it suits them.

Glynis said...

Donna, you are so right about family. Where does it begin or end? I love the family experience (that grows by leaps and bounds each year! )

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