Sunday, 27 September 2015

Families




The festive season is almost upon us and when you visit the shops they are beginning to fill with baubles, trees, gift ware and the likes. Christmas is a time of family, sharing, giving and joyous festivities.  We fill under the tree with gifts and wares, decorate our houses and streets, and gather with family and friends. Though Christmas time is a Christian festival celebrating the birth of Christ, in the western world Christmas has become predominantly for children, wrapped up in the Santa mythology of gift giving. Christmas is a time of family and in as such, quite a difficult time for many. The brave face of tolerating relatives you cannot stand, or the absolute exclusion from family festivities mean the Christmas is quite a difficult time for many. 

A couple of years ago, when visiting my friend, we ran into an acquaintance of his and he inquired as to how her Christmas had been. Looking slightly embarrassed she said she had had an awesome Christmas where she purchased her gifts and placed them under the tree, and on Christmas morning had opened them all herself. Her Christmas shopping was for herself as she came from a fractured family. I told her that I admired her greatly because instead of wallowing in self-pity she took what could have been a very lonely time and turned it into a little celebration for herself. I also explained to her that she must never be embarrassed to admit that her family was dysfunctional, as I think every family is dysfunctional to a degree. 



We all just present this rosy facade to the world where as in reality, petty jealousy, mental illness, sexuality, substance abuse, gambling and downright nastiness tears families apart.  Family fractures know not the boundaries of money, as the wealthy often have more problems than the poor. The only difference being that the money is there to preserve the fa├žade of unity and the pretence of dignity and decorum. The money also means there is more opportunity to actively conspire and use as leverage to keep everyone exactly in the place they want them. After all there is always the threat of changing the will. When there is wealth in a family it all seems to be about getting more wealth, who is in charge of the wealth, and who uses the wealth to actually bring down other members of the family. I personally do not understand as there is often more money than anyone would see in their lifetime so why actively conspire to make sure others miss out. 


Then at Christmas time, they trim their beautifully prepared tree, fill the table with glorious food and invite ‘the family’ to attend. Personally I would rather poke myself in the eye with a pencil. I think ‘Keep your money!’ But also think ‘Leave me alone to lead the life I choose!’  Let’s not keep up the public pretence of the happy family whilst all the time stabbing certain members in the back. Money makes strange bedfellows as those who think that it is the universal panacea put themselves at the mercy of the unscrupulous, and downright illegal, activities of family members. In doing so, they prove that they themselves are no better than the matriarch or patriarch who’s devious and questionable dealings keep the family members exactly where they want them. Oh, and let’s not forget, to the public this family is worthy of sainthood. 


Just because a family is wealthy it does not mean they do not have trouble with drug abuse. It does not mean that the poor have a mortgage on gambling addiction. It does not mean they are angels when it comes to domestic violence and it sure as hell does not mean they have happy children. It simply means that they are better placed to hide it, they are able to buy their way out of trouble, put undue influence on those in high places to have charges dropped and sweep the whole lot under the carpet.

 

There are many wealthy families worldwide that are shattered beyond repair. We look at their public persona in wonder and envy and think ‘If only!’  Do not envy them! They may have material possessions beyond compare but how many of their children crave the touch of a simple Mum that loves her children beyond all else. A few years ago the results of a survey of Sydney teenagers surprised everyone. It this materialistic world when they were asked what they would like above all else, they chose ‘To spend more time with their mother.’ So while these wealthy children appear to be born with a silver spoon in their mouth, and have a perfectly trimmed tree with designer gifts underneath, given the choice they would probably prefer time with their Mum, to play games with her, to be read to and just truly be cared for, not simply provided for!


They say that ‘Money is the root of all evil’ and in my dealings with a particular group of people I can say for sure that this statement is almost 100% correct, especially when it comes to their own. To the world, this benevolent group is generous beyond belief but behind closed doors the malevolence and the wheeling and dealing would take your breath away. No-one is safe, and while those in favour now may rest on their laurels and smile at the demise of others they should forever be on ‘high alert’ because they could well be next.  I do not pretend to understand how others gain glory and happiness from the misery of others. I simply pray that Karma will one day come into play and all of those within this group that have made their way, justifying their disgusting treatment of others for the glory of money find themselves on the receiving end. We will see how well they survive then in the face of adversity – not too well I hope!


With the fracturing of poor families, once you decide to get on with your own life, they basically leave you alone to do your own thing and let you lead your life the way you choose. There is no threat to hang over your head. You could say to me that at least money can make a miserable existence a whole lot more comfortable. However, ultimate money often means ultimate power, and ultimate power gives ultimate corruption. So, maybe to be poor and to be allowed to be master of your own destiny, without the fear of ultimate corruption hanging over your head is a much better alternative. 

So next time you feel a little embarrassed that you do not talk to your sister any more, or that you are estranged from your parents, do not think you are alone. Make your way with those who truly want to be your family; those who do not judge you by your wealth meter; those who do not judge you on your sexuality; those who do not judge you on how articulate you happen to be. These friends who love you for just you, are now your family! The old saying ‘You can choose your friends, but your family is just thrown at you’ has never been truer. Grasp this and run your own race. This Christmas when you are included or not included in the family trauma called Christmas lunch, choose instead to celebrate with your ‘real’ family – your friends!

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