While I was growing up my father often said, “you never really know what’s going on in someone else’s life.” It was eye-opening as a preacher’s kid to glimpse what was really happening in other people’s homes.
Some of the happiest families at church assumed those roles by stuffing their darkest secrets so deeply into themselves that I don’t think most of our mutual friends ever knew what was really going on.
I think we all do this to an extent. Here in the present day I have several friends dealing with fairly serious health problems. One of them responds to it by skimming the surface of life when giving health updates. Only those of us who’ve known this individual a long time have been told more. Another friend deals with the frustration and fear by talking about it in great detail with any friends willing to listen.
I don’t know why some people are more willing to reveal what’s really going on in their lives than are others. It’s an interesting idea to think about as we slowly move closer to the holiday season, though.
One of the most frustrating things about that time of year for me is how easy it is to feel forced into the one big happy family box. Advertisements are filled with families who make the Cosbys and the Waltons look dysfunctional and there’s a social expectation that everyone loves this time of year . There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of emotional room for families who aren’t closely-knit or who don’t, in fact, all live in the same state. Or country.
Watching my friends figure out how to navigate their new diagnoses reminds me that I don’t actually know what is going on in other people’s lives. Maybe you’re just as annoyed with the impending mandatory holiday cheer and togetherness as I am?
Let me know in the comment section.