I’m conducting a poll. (Since my husband and I own a market research firm I default to collecting data when I have a question.)
So on to question 1-
Within the past 12 months, have you participated in a holiday family gathering? (Of course, many of us will cite the just past Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah festivities as just such an occasion).
How were the family dynamics at said holiday occasion?
Aside from being a nosey pollster, my questions stem from an article I read in the New York Times about what they have officially dubbed “Family Jet Lag”. The following is an excerpt:
The holidays mean large extended family gatherings, hours of cooking and a group of people who don’t typically interact in person, all confined to one location and trying to act festive. It’s the reality show version of your family. When you return from your holiday visit, you may be exhausted for days afterward, finding it hard to focus and return to your regular routine. It feels as if you took the red-eye from Phoenix, but in reality it was a quick one-hour flight from Cleveland.
This is family jet lag.
Ancient Family Dynamics
Families have many emotional dynamics. Siblings who formerly shared bathrooms and bedrooms see each other once or twice a year and are now forced into similar intimate spaces in Mom and Dad’s house. Expectations for marriage, children, and career advancements thread their way into cooking conversations. Anxieties at these events are as prevalent as the pumpkin pie (and not nearly as tasty).
Visitors and hosts often use precious vacation days for these holiday excursions. They are often already tired from a grueling work/school schedule, become more tired by the travel journey, and then can experience family fatigue from emotional stress.
Some measure of this description resonated with me about my own holiday family experience. For the most part, joy is the way I would describe my feelings about my family gathering together for the first time in almost two years. Seeing my daughter interacting with her niece and brand new nephew, witnessing the kind of father my son has become, the opportunity to play and laugh with my BFF granddaughter—let’s say it together–priceless!
But there were skirmishes in the pursuit of the perfect holiday experience. Divorced families contribute their own share of stress as parents vie for precious family time. Aside from the cooking and cleaning, six week-old babies are not known for sleeping through the night. Even with five adults and two children, exhaustion was an ever present factor contributing to this family’s jet lag. Diminished sleep, according to this New York Times article, impacts one’s sense of well-being.
So what it is the solution to Family Jet Lag? I offered up a perfect solution to my children- Move Back to Orlando! Yes, uproot your life in Chicago and Baltimore and move nearby. Then you will have your own places and we don’t have to pile in on each other like puppies. Somehow, I don’t think they are going for it though. Let me know your suggestions:
Please click here to take my survey on this topic.