Monday, July 30, 2012

You may not always be popular

I have longed been a fan of Davy Crockett. I can remember from my history classes on Texas history, how brave men fought Santa Anna at the Alamo.

Even to this day, I can quote most of the song of the 50's television show along with its variants where Fess Parker fought many a wrong and gave boys a picture of what being a real man was to be.

Be always sure you are right - then go ahead.
Davy Crockett

Fame is like a shaved pig with a greased tail, and it is only after it has slipped through the hands of some thousands, that some fellow, by mere chance, holds on to it!
Davy Crockett

I believe, really believe that we need to stand up and voice our opinions. If you truly believe in what is in your heart then it needs to pass your lips. A man stands by his convictions, is willing to take the unpopular stance and ready to fight both politically, socially and yes physically for his rights.

Let me explain why I am in an unpopular position with my extended family. Being a father of four children ten and under, I know that these kids need to be stimulated and need to be able to play. To keep them confined and forbid them from being able to play for an extended time period will turn to be a huge whine-fest and in turn a ruination of what would be just another bad holiday experience.

Our normal plan is to go across town and have dinner with the wife's parents or at my Dad's before he passed last year. Neither of the extended family is conducive to a bunch of kids. Rarely enough room for the kids to play or keep them entertained which results in a stressful dinner prep experience. A painful table sitting experience often leaving family in anger because they didn't get their 'ideal' seat while the children sit around a small table with their heads lurched forward in an effort to avoid the chair of the adult at their back.

Post dinner, kids are rarely sensible enough to sit at the table long enough for the adults to finish. Normally they shovel down the rolls, a few scoops of cranberry sauce and they are ready to do something else. Spongebob must be on right?

Honestly, kids want an outlet. They want something that engages and entertains them. To center an event or holiday solely around a meal and you lose a connection with the children you have drug to the grandparents.

So being the absolute harborer or doom that I am, I made a suggestion. Nay, I recommended a change from our normal Thanksgiving dinner. I suggested that the holiday dinner be held at my house. For one, my house is already set up for kids with plenty of room for extra tables to be set up for dinner. My basement is setup for a martial arts school so it is safe to send the kids to get rowdy downstairs. We could easily set up a projector for the kids to watch a movie or play a video game.

My first conversation with the elder patriarch of my wife's family resulted in agreement that it would be alright to make this change and 'see how it goes.' Now, this was of course a two days prior to Thanksgiving. Since we all live in roughly the same area, a venue change was really not a difficult or improbable task.

The core of my reason for the change was for the kids. Kids can play and have plenty of room to run around and get goofy. There would also be plenty of room for the adults to enjoy time with one another and not literally be on top of one another. With my house as the choice for the Holiday, it makes everyone's interaction with each other longer and much more pleasurable. People could come early, use our kitchen if necessary and of course stay late.

This is not possible with the original location. Sadly, the following day 'thanksgiving eve' we received a call of how 'certain' individuals were quite unhappy with the situation and that a compromise was necessary in order to appease those who I (yes me) have offended.'

The compromise was that one family (the one with three kids) could come and visit early at my house and 'hang out' until dinner time. Then at the allotted hour, everyone would travel to the patriarch's house for the consummation of vast painstakingly made food. Post meal, people could travel back to my house for a couple of hours to visit.

The complaints were many....

1. No way... .you can't change things this late in the game
2. Your house has allergens (aka Molly the Mutt) and if people (two specifically) stay more than a couple hours they have head aches.
3. You are being selfish
4. What is wrong with our house, you make it sound like we live in a slum

You see, a compromise should be a win win for everyone involved. In actuality this compromise would in my opinion ruin this Holiday. You see those who are actively cooking will want to keep cooking and not be involved with the family get together. That is the crux of their problem with my suggestion. People wanted to cook at the Patriarch's house and the thought of bundling the dishes of food together was too much to bare. However they forget the difficulty in bundling and herding of kids. Of course we are expected to bring dishes of our own to the meal. Having the dinner at the patriarch's would leave the patriarch and his culinary prodigy tasked with cooking and really not wanting to be involved with the family (while cooking) in the first place.

So, putting hardships on the children and those families involved is more important during this holiday? I do not see it this way. This compromise wasn't really one at all. It would have forced our children to be uncomfortable for several hours just so that we can sit around a table to eat food. Little to no real conversations would be had because we would be all worried about keeping the kids under control or trying to help those preparing food at the last minute.

Thanksgiving becomes a stress fest.

So I made a stand. I shared with Jennifer my concerns about what the compromise really means for me and the family. How this actually puts more stress on the situation than the original. That a complete change of opinion, a reversal if you will based on some rather absurd objections what not what was best for me and our family.

So a late phone call with the Patriarch was made by me. We discussed, somehow everything was my fault and I was 'being selfish' because I was unwilling to agree with the compromise. In the end, I decided on a quiet, peaceful Thanksgiving at home with the wife and kids.

Believe it or not, we feel much better about it. We have enjoyed playing games with the kids, watching classic movies on the television and drinking coffee and hot apple cider.

While I may not be popular with Jen's family this day. As for me and my house, we are going to stand by what we feel is right.