6 Ways The Family Stone Captures the Experience of Holidays With the Family
At this point in the holiday season, you’ve probably plopped down on the couch and watched at least one of your favorite Christmas movies, whether it’s a classic Christmas cartoon, a high-stress holiday drama, or one of the many feel-good Christmas movies on Netflix or the Hallmark Channel.
My favorite Christmas movie is The Family Stone. Equal parts humor and drama, the 2005 film follows Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker) as she meets her boyfriend Everett’s (Dermot Mulroney) large family for the holidays. Despite Meredith’s best intentions, her stiff personality doesn’t fit in with the liberal, laid-back Stone family. It quickly becomes clear that her visit isn’t going to be all hugs and baking montages.
Aside from the hijinks and frequent jokes (often at Meredith’s expense), what I like most about this movie is the family chaos.
One of my favorite moments is when a distraught Meredith wails, “What makes you guys so special?!” to which Sybil, the mother and matriarch of the family (Diane Keaton) replies, “Nothing, it’s just we’re all we’ve got!” This movie doesn’t feature the perfect cookie-cutter family, but a believable, albeit hysterical one. I like The Family Stone because it’s real, and if you celebrate Christmas and refuse to believe your family resembles these characters at all around the holidays, then you may be in denial.
Here are just some of the ways your family may come close to the chaos and holiday hilarity that is The Family Stone.
1. Someone is always upended from their room (and feels a little grumpy about it).
In holiday movies, there is always a home base where friends and family gather. In The Family Stone, that place is, of course, the parents’ house. Though it appears to be a decent size when Meredith and Everett first show up (it did house a family of seven, after all), it turns out that there isn’t enough room to house the growing family and their guests. When Meredith refuses to sleep in her boyfriend’s room out of embarrassment and takes Amy Stone’s (Rachel McAdams) room instead, things get personal. This tension is brought up frequently throughout the movie, and it’s pretty relatable when Amy throws Meredith the stink eye after her first night sleeping on the lumpy couch.
2. Attempting family recipes isn’t always easy.
What is it about the holidays that instills in us a sudden urge to make our great grandmother’s famous family recipe from scratch? Perhaps it’s all the themed recipes popping up on our newsfeeds or the dramatic baking montages we see in Christmas movies, but you’ll want to show everyone your superior baking skills—except you have none.
If you’re anything like Meredith making Christmas breakfast for the family, then you are sure to make a mess. Just know that if you’re cooking for someone special, you should ask what they are allergic to beforehand.
3. Bringing new significant others to meet the family can get rough.
A timeless test used to determine whether a relationship has staying power is bringing that significant other around your family for the stressful holidays. You can’t control how your family is going to act, and you can’t determine if the people you care about are going to get along. Just like Everett bringing Meredith home for the holidays, you might have the best intentions at heart, but you’re ultimately bringing them into a battle zone. If you’re the one-off to meet someone’s family, be sure to come prepared with a smile on your face—and maybe a thoughtful gift.
4. Letting loose during the holidays is a family tradition.
There are enough alcoholic holiday-themed concoctions out there to let you know that the most wonderful time of the year is also a time of heavy drinking. Whether you’re drinking with your family or because of your family, letting loose with some eggnog or a holiday martini might be on your to-do list. But just like Meredith and Ben kicking back at the local bar and going a little overboard, visiting home for the holidays can get a little rowdy.
5. Through thick or thin, family is there for you.
I think one of my favorite themes in The Family Stone—and during the holidays in general—is that family will be there for you, whether biological or chosen. Though we see a lot of bickering among the Stone family, it is clear they all support each other, no matter what. They also aren’t afraid to tell each other when they think they are making mistakes—just like Thad going with Everett to the jewelry store, even though it’s very clear what he thinks of Meredith. Just like Julie, Meredith’s sister, dropping everything to be with Meredith for the holidays, the characters in this movie are willing to go the extra mile for the people they care about.
6. Despite the chaos, the holidays unite us.
In The Family Stone, what begins as a disastrous meet-the-parents' adventure turns into a close-knit family seeing the value in the most important things in life. Whether that’s Meredith learning what it’s like to have a large family, Everett discovering he needs to think of himself more often, or the entire family adjusting to life without one of them around. So while you are busy at your grandparents’ or relaxing on the couch with your best friend, take a second to appreciate the small moments.