Thanksgiving can be the gateway to the dysfunctional families worst time of year- the holidays. You face family across the table you despise or just both love and hate. Or there is that empty seat- the uninvited guest- the brother-sister, aunt, son, daughter who you never invite- the cut off-family member.
But since this leaves the family with that “phantom limb”- like the awful sensation that an amputated or missing limb is still attached and where it was is pulsating in pain- families reach out for someone to fix it.
The ordinary aging processes are made far tougher when a family has a history of dysfunction. Aging professionals, like geriatric care managers, have their greatest challenges in working with these “difficult” families around this time of year.
Dysfunctional families are not able to organize themselves effectively in the face of eldercare challenges and crises. These families are under more stress as they move from long-established roles into uncharted territory.
What if they “ cut off” their Dad years ago and now he had a severe stroke-what do they do?? Someone has to take over Mom or Dad’s care and these dysfunctional midlife adult kids are heavy ambivalent or just don’t want to do it.Now that the holidays are arriving – they have the same attitude about attending the family Thanksgiving dinner.
Pieces if April is my favorite aging dysfunctional family ” cut off ” Thanksgiving film. Made as a comedy in 2003, it touches death and dying, sibling rivalry, mother-daughter estrangement, interracial love- and Alzheimer’s all fueled by deep family fault lines and how to cook a turkey on a broken stove.The film manages to make the old theme of fraught family Thanksgiving, crisp, funny and ultra worth watching.
Shot in 3 weeks for a measly $350 K, it received a Sundance Film award and accolades for its pedigree cast including 21 year old Katie Holmes as the grunge Goth daughter who her family has ” Cut Off”,.Patricia Clarkson as the dying Mom who distains then forgives her rebellious eldest child and Alice Drummond as the demented grandmother who comes along and plays the most rational person in the film in her obliviousness to the family holiday freak-out.