Parents, Parabolas and Holidays

Have you ever observed that a well-adjusted individual’s interest in many childhood joys is parabolic? In other words, they start high and dip only to increase again. This observation applies to many things. Let’s take two.

  1. Holidays & Birthdays

  2. Parents & Family

Holidays & Birthdays:

In and out of a religious context, it is self-evident that most major holidays are for kids; especially Christmas and Easter. In other words, holidays are memetic propagators of ideas with varying importance. As a result, they hold a certain magic that most tiny humans experience a few times in a year. A feeling of togetherness, a tradition that connects millions of people around the world and those that existed in the past to you in the present. Much of this, is not missed by children per se, as it is just never in the forefront of their minds. The gifts, food, and fun around them both contain and overshadow this subtle point.

As they grow, however, as was in my case, holidays were just “another day” with a bunch of chores and having to talk to individuals that I barely know but with whom I am supposed to feel an overwhelming connection. I’d rather be alone, I thought. In other words, an annoying angsty teen. This has changed in recent years. Holidays have become more important to me not as an excuse to get gifts, or as an excuse to eat a ton of food (definitely the latter, by the way), but because people are no longer non-player characters but individuals like me who have both joys and downs. The traditions around the holidays, as unique as they are to each family, actually inspire me to create a family holiday or a holiday with my friends.

The same argument holds for birthdays. Birthdays become less important as you age and that of your friends and family become more important (a sentiment not particular to me, I assure you). The main theme particular to this category of parabolic change is a shift from a receiver’s perspective to a giver’s perspective, also a shift in means.

Parents and Family:

Parents are borderline godlike figures to children. They contain wisdom about so many things and know what it is to live. They magically cure your illnesses with soup or injuries with a bandaid. To most, their dad’s are real-life superheroes with superstrength and too much money than they know how to use. The same applies to families and loved ones. They annoy the life out of you as a kid but you can’t imagine life without them and in some cases, you want yours.

As teenagers, your parents seem to become the most embarrassing individuals you could ever know. So much so that you want to keep them at arm’s length by all means. Most people stay in this stage in life: perpetual teenagers. As one grows, however, they see the wisdom in their parents’ words and the values they laid out, or at the very least, they identify the mistakes they made in raising them. At which point parents stop being gods and become individuals who try to do their best. In the very rare cases of abusive parents, the individuals come to terms with who their parents are. Moving from either naivete to much-needed cynicism (in moderate amounts of course) or they move from viewing their parents as absolute monsters or demons incarnate to the flawed individuals they are. In other words, one’s views on their families and parents, especially, become more sophisticated and their appreciation for them increases; another parabolic shift.

Overall, when you look, you see this shift as often as normal distributions. I find that this observation applies to most empathic traits. It is, in a sense, the uncool brother of the gaussian curve. Thus this season, I admonish you to think about how your perspective on holidays has changed and account for the mistakes you might have made in the past in the ways you can.

Certainty Rating: 70%


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