A family of different stripes

 

 

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We’ve been watching a lot of Winnie the Pooh the past couple of days during our traditional Thanksgiving beach trip.  It’s colder this year than it usually is, so we’ve been playing cards, cooking, making cocktails, and yessssss—watching Winnie the Pooh.

This is the first time Finn has shown any interest in Pooh, though I’ve tried before to turn him onto it (four year old MUST make up their own minds about these things).  Pooh plays a special place in our family.  My parents read it to each other when they were first married, and my dad was in seminary.  Then there was one particular day—I must have been three—when my mom and I walked through our neighborhood, and I opened a neighbor’s mailbox, against Mom’s instructions.  A bee flew out of the mailbox, and stung me under my arm.  She took me home, put some medicine on it, and we listened to Winnie the Pooh on vinyl.  I still have that record.  It’s the one about the blustery day.

Finn has become particularly attached to the latest Tigger movie, in which Tigger realizes the he’s actually not so fond of being the only Tigger, and wants to find his family.  When letters are unanswered, and no other Tiggers are found—the usually bouncy guy becomes depressed, downtrodden, and completely absorbed in his loneliness.  Despite his friends attempts to console him—even dressing themselves up as Tiggers, he turns them all away and leaves the Hundred Acre Wood in anger and sadness.

It usually takes some event, some crisis to get us to look at the barriers we put in front of ourselves that prevent true love and connection.  Even after Roo bravely leads everyone through a blizzard to search for Tigger, and they finally succeed in finding him, Tigger is still so angry and lonely that he yells at everyone to leave him alone in the cold.  All he wants is his REAL family.  As Tigger screams at his friends to go away—the world comes crashing down all around them in the form of a snow avalanche.  They narrowly escape, and as they run through the catastrophe, and finally make it safely home, Tigger realizes (DUH) that these creatures who love him, who’ve  lived with him, who come after him when he’s hurting and angry,  are indeed, his REAL family—stripes or not.

I saw a friend’s post yesterday on Facebook wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to those who were hurting, angry, and alone.  Her children were out of town for the holiday with her ex-husband, and she missed them desperately.  We all feel lonely and alone at times—no matter what the Instagram pictures or the Facebook posts say.  We think our lives are supposed to look a certain way, feel a certain way.  When the avalanches come crashing down around us and everything is risked and sometimes broken and buried, it’s the ones who “come after us” time after time—the ones who won’t let us retreat into solitude, no matter how angry, lonely, or stubborn we may be that are our REAL family.  Most of the time, all we have to do is take off the armor, open our arms, and stop pushing them away. Let them sit with us in our disappointments and desires, even when it doesn’t always fit our “picture” of how things are supposed to be.

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