The Nuclear Family is a funny way to describe the closest members of your kin, but in a way it totally makes sense. A family can be loud and just go off unexpectedly (be it laughing or yelling) if you mention the wrong thing while passing the stuffing. That’s part of what makes them great.
Or super annoying, depending on how you look at it.
Tolstoy once said that all happy families are alike. He’s probably right. All happy families seem roughly ten seconds away from going all Unabomber-y and insane. Using ‘nuclear’ to title the mom who’s mad at the dad who’s sick of the kids’ whining because right now they hate the parents for not letting them eat cake before lunch is kinda what the holidays are all about. Plus, family typically also has an overwhelming sense of power over you. Mom needs you. Right now. And Boom, you went from checking Facebook to clearing the table in maybe ten minutes flat because mom started to get mad that you weren’t helping and, ugh, just set the table before grandma gets here. Moms have this magic that keeps you ten years old for forever.
A nuclear family just sounds atomic and radio active, right? Like it’s a family we don’t want Korea to get its hands on. But yet, we totally love them and we’d do anything for them. It reminds me of this quote from a show all of you should be watching, Happy Endings. Last week a character, Max, had to take care of his brother’s kids. When a friend of his tries, and fails, to make the kids love her like they love Max (despite the fact that he’s making them play ‘games’ where the kids make him a sandwich and do dishes), he just shrugs and says, “Blood is thicker than annoying.”
It’s true, you know. I’m Gilmore Girls close with my mom, but that also means she really knows how to push my buttons. That being said, she also knows which cup I like my tea in and how I mentioned two weeks ago that I was looking for a pink oven mitt so she found one and picked it up for me. Families, for the most part, are there for each other and that’s something we really shouldn’t take for granted. Even when they annoy us.
Now, the holiday season is here and so that means lots of family time for most. Hallmark sells Thanksgiving as the very model of a modern major holiday, but it’s not even about giving thanks or family anymore. It’s about fueling up on carbs topped with marshmallows (pretty sure that’s also a carb, actually) so that you can spend hours standing in line at 3 AM at a Target to buy your new TV. Thanksgiving is more like the tailgating party for Black Friday and the Christmas shopping season than a spiritual meal of gratitude. Sure, it puts up this front like it’s about family and togetherness and cornucopias of love and complimentary gourds, but really we just want our turkey and then we want to get the hell out of Aunt Laura’s house so we can hit the bars with our friends who came into town. Away from our families. Because we need a bit of a break.
Don’t feel so bad. We all go through this phase for a bit between the ages of twelve and twenty-two. Your parents were like this too. It runs in the family.
(PS: The photo is from my favorite very special Thanksgiving episode of Happy Days where the Cunninghams all go back in time and there’s a pilgrim Fonzie and just- ugh, watch it.)