I write this post with a slight bit of embarrassment as we are now in March but I’m only on week three! I think I misunderstood and thought this challenge was called Twelve Months of Gratitude! Never mind – I’ve promised myself that come the end of the year, I’ll have completed all fifty two weeks. In fact I’m grateful to be on week three at all!
OK, this week’s topic is family which is interesting considering that I didn’t get off to a good start with mine this morning. My sister woke me up by WhatsApping me with the latest family drama – and before I’ve had a coffee that’s dangerous!
I consider myself to be a very family minded person. That’s the way I was raised. I never understood people who claimed that they were not close to their aunts and uncles or used phrases like “Oh, he’s only my cousin.” In my family we were raised to believe that there was no such distinction between immediate and extended family and distant relatives. If we shared DNA, we were family – end of!
Sadly now that I’ve reached adulthood, my circle of family has gotten smaller. This is due to people wanting to go their own way for whatever reason. I also understand that I have relatives who don’t know the meaning of ‘family loyalty’ and the ties of family are such that I cannot cut them off no matter how much I want to, so for the sake of my emotional well-being, I have been left with no choice but to keep certain relatives at two arms length – and I don’t feel guilty about it.
So the bottom line is that I have family, and I have people I just happen to be related to.
So far you’re probably thinking that where my family are concerned, I don’t have a lot to be grateful for. Not at all! As far as I’m concerned my family consists of Mr. D. our immediate families, and a handful of extended relatives.
I’d like to make out like we’re the perfect family – like my mum has convinced herself that we are – but we’re not. I don’t mind admitting that my family are totally bonkers! There are a multitude of characters and personalities, and we all have our eccentricities and oddities, and are more than just a little on the dysfunctional side! There’s always some drama or stressful situation that we’re trying to resolve – but at least no one could ever accuse us of being dull and the in-flight entertainment is always worth watching (although we’d rather you didn’t!)
When I was growing up I always wished that we could be like the families you saw on TV. I also thought that my friends and classmates had better, more ‘together,’ families than I did. Now that I’m an adult, I realise that there’s no such thing as the perfect family. We all have our own struggles and own problems that we’re trying to overcome. And past experience has taught me that its often the families who claim to be the most perfect who often have the most issues.
Coming from a seemingly ordinary, perfect family is no guarantee, as I’ve learned, that you’ll turn out ‘right’. Growing up was hard and I used to blame many of my problems on the fact that I didn’t come from a ‘normal’ family. But I now feel that coming from such a family has given me a resilience that I may not have had. I feel like I can handle anything and I’ve learned to embrace my weird family and my own weirdness. As my dad once said ” Who wants to be normal?”
In recent years my immediate family and I have had a lot of issues which meant that we weren’t as close as we should have been. It was a very sad period of our lives but I’m glad that even though certain issues are not fully resolved, we are all back in each others lives and our bond has grown stronger and there’s definitely more than enough unconditional love here. We don’t take anything for granted any more and we all know that when push comes to shove, we are always there for each other.
And there’s other things I’m thankful for when it comes to family. I’m thrilled there there are many different nationalities here and different languages spoken. We’re like a mini UN! Some people think it’s a little ‘confusing’ but it’s not. We have learned so much from each other and we really wouldn’t have it any other way. Not to mention there’s always something for everyone when it’s potluck at family gatherings!
I also love the big pool of talent that exists in our family as we all have different interests, skills and areas of expertise. There are creatives, techies, sports enthusiasts, business brains, problem solvers, culinary geniuses, fashionistas… We all bring something different to the table.
My family have made me who I am, so for all their craziness and zaniness, I have to be grateful that God put me in with this nutty bunch. There’s tons more fabulous stuff I could say about why I’m so grateful for my family but I’ll just end by saying that the greatest blessing to be bestowed on our family is definitely the next generation – our gorgeous nieces and nephews. Not only are they a constant joy to be around – even when they’ve tired you out – but they’ve played a major part in healing our family and bringing people together. We may never be a TV family – unless you’re thinking of The Adams Family – but it’s thanks to those amazing kids that we can try to do ‘normal’…Sometimes!
Being a fan of quality television and having an intense dislike for most of the reality rubbish that is on these days, I’ve taken to watching old episodes of Tales Of The Unexpected – the show which features dancing silhouettes emerging from flames in its opening credits along with a freakish yet seductive theme tune which has something of a carousel vibe! It was very popular in the 1980s although I didn’t get to see many episodes due to it being on way past my bedtime!
But I’m making up for lost time now and really enjoying the episodes. As usual every episode ends with an unexpected twist – and I spend the last ten minutes of every episode trying to suss out the twist. I’m happy to say that I’m usually wrong as I like the element of surprise.
However one episode which left me more than just a little surprised is the notorious The Flypaper written by Elizabeth Taylor (no, not that Elizabeth Taylor!) I have yet to watch every episode of Tales of The Unexpected but I’m sure when I do I won’t find any that is as chilling and disturbing as The Flypaper. It was so creepy it was all I could think about for days.
The story centres around recently orphaned Sylvia Wilkinson who lives with her cold and uncaring old battle-axe of a grandmother. At this particular time, there is a child killer on the loose and Sylvia becomes anxious as she catches glimpses of a middle-aged man who she thinks might be following her. He manages to board her bus one day just as she thinks she has escaped him and starts to harass the timid schoolgirl. Thankfully for Sylvia, a kind and motherly lady witnesses the man’s behaviour and comes to Sylvia’s rescue… but far from being safe, Sylvia’s nightmare has just begun. The viewer can definitely empathise with Sylvia and sense her acute fear; her feelings of powerlessness and the overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia.
The underlying message of the tale is that you can’t trust anyone and really brings home the issue of ‘stranger danger.’ What made the episode even more dark and macabre is that despite it having been made more than 30 years ago, with today’s dangers of stalking, abuse, abduction and child disappearances, it is probably more relevant today than it was back then.
It is such an effective piece of drama that I actually think it might be an idea to show it in schools in order to explain to schoolchildren why they should be careful of people they don’t know. Even though The Flypaper probably didn’t intend to be, it’s quite an educational episode. The only problem is that there’d be a lot of irate mums and dads who’d have to put up with their kids taking refuge in their rooms (just like I used to!)
One of the good things about this episode is that it has introduced me to the work of Elizabeth Taylor (the non-Oscar winner!) and I’m interested in reading her novels and short stories. I can’t wait to watch the rest of the episodes… although I know that none of them will be anything like The Flypaper…