Quite frankly, families are overrated.

Now, I appreciate that some will instinctively and vehemently disagree with me. That’s just dandy. Keep in mind that I have come to this conclusion as a result of years of agonizing experience with my own dysfunctional family, and also through a litany of discussions with others that suffer through the holidays just like me.

Naturally when I was a tadpole, I used to adore the holidays. Heck, Santa was coming down the chimney. He was bringing (or at least I hoped so), a James Bond attaché case with all kinds of neat Sean Connery gadgets to play with. I didn’t have to worry about preparing the meals, much less mediating the alcohol-influenced disputes among the blood relatives and in-laws. I was in my own little world, thank you very much.


Fast forward to the present era and I still want that attaché case, but this time with a real throwing knife, piano wire and exploding talcum powder just like the one used by OO7 in his life-and-death struggle against Red Grant (Robert Shaw) in From Russia with Love. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_Russia_with_Love_(film)

Or how about Rose Klebb’s (Lotte Lenya) poison-spiked shoe in the same movie? Yes, that could do wonders when one generation of the family bypasses another generation to lecture a third generation, thus drawing the wrath of the middle generation. Do you follow me?

And what happens if downsizing an annoying in-law is simply not an option, particularly one that worries about anything and everything. “What if it rains?” “What if there is fog?” “What if the hotel is full?” “What if the restaurant is crowded?”…Gee, what if the sun slams into the earth or vice versa? I guess we will all fry and die.

What happens in the 21st Century workplace, if a key employee simply takes a Luddite stance and steadfastly refuses to learn new technologies? Well that person wouldn’t last very long in the job and most likely would be replaced by a younger, more eager worker who readily embraces new ways of doing things. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with stubborn family members.

To be fair, some technologies can be intimidating. The manuals for these gadgets are in most cases (the Apple iPod is a refreshing exception) are written by gear-heads for gear-heads. The tech support guy (or female of the species) from India has to follow the script, “We are so sorry that you are having problems with…” Before you know it, you have spent two-to-four hours on the phone and you almost forgot why you called in the first place.

In the case of my family, they have a habit of discovering the usefulness of a technologies one decade too late: color TV in the 1980s; microwaves in the 1990s; PCs in the 2000s etc. And what happens when you purchase a certain in-law a cell phone (adding him to your own plan) and then he won’t wear the damn thing because it may give him cancer. What? Will it make you go blind as well? Sorry that is caused by playing with another gadget.


As we began our welcome 200-mile drive home the day after Xmas, my sympathetic daughter looked over and said “Dad, you seem so tense. Why are you so tense?”

The answer is that no one gave me my real-to-life James Bond attaché case or at least an Aston Martin with an ejector seat…God that would have come in handy with certain members of the family.