Holidays: A Study in Family Dynamics

Years after leaving your family of origin, it can be fascinating to return for a few days. If you have some background in family dynamics, you may sit back and observe some interesting patterns that don’t seem to vary even decades later. No matter how much you change, your place in your family usually doesn’t.

Carter Family Christmas in 1966

Here’s a few examples. In my family I am the youngest and am treated as such. I’m the little sister, permanently. There is no escaping that role. My brother and I were usually quieter than our older sister, and sure enough that is all still true. There are usually one or two family members who need and demand a lot of attention, and it’s funny to watch how most of us quickly fall into our old roles. My dad was a college professor. In his day he loved to hold forth on any topic related to botany or biology. We all respected his opinion at least on those topics. My big sister is tops in her field in long-term care, perfect training for helping out my parents now that they are past age 85. These two are our family orators

The only real change in my family is that as my parents have aged they have gotten much quieter. They mainly sit and listen to us “younger” members (all in our 60s) ramble on about some “modern” topic like politics or technology. None of us have kids and we don’t exchange gifts, so the holidays can be relatively calm in our family.

I always look forward to getting together with my family and then I am also happy to return afterward to our modest country home. This time I observed to Mike on our return home that we must all be a tiny bit OCD, because returning to a place where everything is where we left it brings feelings of security and comfort, especially as we age.

This place is truly HOME SWEET HOME TO US NOW!

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