It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on
As Joni Mitchel told us on her melancholy 1971 masterwork, “Blue” Celebrations with family on the holidays can often want you to take the ice and skate away from.
What are the signs that the family wants to ditch the dreaded dinner altogether?
1. Spending time with dysfunctional families often causes lots of seasonal lubrication – “A Holiday on Ice” like David Sedaris tells us. So # 1 there will be too much drinking and the resulting family drunken insults and fights
2..Distancing & cut off- are pulling away and having nothing to do with family or an individual in your family.
4.You find adult children who have not spoken to parents or siblings for years.
Angela Jolie and her Dad actor John Voigt is a well-publicized example
What prompted Jolie’s reconciliation – helping grandchildren- Jolie- reconciled with her Dad because of her children’s need for a grandparent and the knowledge that your children just have a very different version of a relationship with your parents than you do.
When you assess the aging family as a professional you look at several signs of dysfunction. Contentiousness and anger are two other signs- the ripping pattern of divorce, remarriage, or other disruptions in relationships that shred the balance within the family system- both hacked by anger and contentiousness.
Gathering all these angry, contentious, cut off, divorced, often drunken insulters- ex-spouses, stepchildren, left behind blood children, deadbeat Dad’s and pour on alcohol and hold the mistletoe -you have the wrathful explosion that is that is dysfunctional family skating the holiday on ice.
Find out more about in Emily Salz and Lynn Hackstaff’s chapter Family Conflicts, Dependence and Mutuality: Care Management and the Dysfunctional Family. Handbook of Geriatric Care Management 4th edition.Jones and Bartlet.
When they call you be prepared, be ready, be a little fearful. Here are some tips.