As a college student, holidays are a great comfort,
but they are so stressful. My parents and I play this
walking-on-bubble-wrap avoidance game to keep from hurting
one another's feelings when it comes to our differing
beliefs. I joke about mad cow disease. They joke about
how you can't get mad cow disease from chickens. These
exchanges are accompanied by laughter, but the laughter
is tense and nervous.
When my sister is home for whatever brief period she
can manage, she also laughs, but the laughter takes
on a different tone. She feels that my beliefs and lifestyle
are foolish and sentimental. I feel that hers are wicked
and cruel. We never say this out loud, but we communicate
it clearly to each other telepathically. I remember
the Christmas where I received her gift of an assortment
of lotions and soaps -- all of which contained obvious
animal ingredients like milk and beeswax.
We don't have a lot of family traditions. Our holidays
are not like most other families' holidays. I love my
family, and I miss them very much when I can't see them,
but I really wish that we could all agree on what is
right and wrong, if only for these short visits. Do
I turn a blind eye to the death on the table, the corpse
that mars my meal? Or do they acquiesce completely to
my beliefs and wince as they eat lentil loaf and vegetables?
I often return to school after holiday breaks feeling
drained and irritable, because I know how great it could
be if holidays with my family were free of tension --
the tension that will never disappear without some major
changes in all of our (my family's) perspectives.
e x t e s s a y -
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