Nothing sweeter than family harmony
Published 1:40 pm Friday, May 15, 2015
Our adult children made an announcement last weekend. They told us- my husband and me- about a plan they had in mind for celebrating our oldest son’s birthday. First, a trip to the mall to pick out a present. After that, dinner at a nice restaurant. “Sounds wonderful,” I replied. “What restaurant?” I couldn’t wait to have everyone together for a lovely meal.
“Oh. Sorry, Mom”, our daughter informed me. “This outing is for siblings only.” I never appreciate being left off the guest list, particularly when the party is for one of my own children. I’m pretty sure my face mirrored my discontent. However, the more I thought about it, the more I warmed to the idea. Even as I processed my disappointed feelings, I could hear the faint strains of family harmony.
Our kids want to go somewhere together? Without us? This is good. I don’t take my offspring’s comraderie for granted. Not all kids get along. In fact, I remember a time when ours didn’t either. We drove to Houston for a Christmas celebration one year and had to pull the car over just a block from my mother’s house.
Who argues on Jesus’ birthday? According to a survey by life assistance group CPP, lots of folks. Thirty percent of the individuals polled would rather not spend any part of the yuletide season with family. And yet, venting angry feelings can be the beginning of turning a relationship around. Staying to hash it out beats the heck out of storming off in an angry rage. Brothers (or sisters) who take their marbles and go home don’t leave themselves room for resolving anything.
A few years back, my own siblings and I got crossways over plans for our aging mother’s care. Some of us believed she should go on living in the home where she raised us. Others thought that leaving her there was like a ticking time bomb: it was simply a matter of time before she got hurt.
Trying get a consensus with 13 opinionated people is like herding hungry cats. It’s hard, especially with a subject as emotionally charged as the care and feeding of a 90 year old mother. Call it divine inspiration. We came to agreement and have been on the same page (or at least in the same book) ever since.
It’s natural for family members to experience conflict. Siblings are supposed to fight. We disagree, we slug it out, we say we’re sorry and we move on. In high school, I left a cigarette burning in an ash tray on my sister’s bed to answer the phone in another room. I returned to find a big hole in her stuffed bear. Cindy had gotten “George” from her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. She loved that thing like a country boy loves a hound dog.
I sewed him up with big, loopy stitches and tried to pretend that nothing happened. “Hole, what hole?” I said under cross examination. I don’t recall how we worked it out. Most likely, I apologized and she forgave me. That’s how forgiveness usually works.
The morning after their sibling supper, I asked our daughter how it had gone. They started out at DSW where the birthday boy tried on half a dozen shoes and modeled them for his entourage. On to another store for a leather belt and by now other shoppers are giving their opinions. By then it was late, so they opted for salads from an upscale grocery store instead of a seated dinner at a quiet restaurant. First, they selected their meals, then drinks, then somebody remembered it was almost Mother’s Day so they went back for cards and flowers.
“We went through the checkout line so many times, we got to know the checker.”
I pictured them running around the store, laughing over Hallmark cards, and reaching around each other to pile their purchases on the conveyer belt. Bottom line: they had a blast. When kids in families love each other, it’s expected. When they like each other, that’s something to sing about. There is nothing sweeter than the sound of family harmony.
Donia Caspersen Crouch was raised in Southeast Texas and lives in Austin. Want more? Donia’s Stories of Hope and Humor can be ordered at email@example.com.