Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Day 8 - Friday Night's All Right For Fighting

Many of you may recognize the name of this post as the title of Season 6, Episode 13. About a week ago Savannah texted me at an ungodly hour to let me know she was literally LOL-ing her ass off watching this episode of familial dysfunction and confrontation.

I decided that I needed to immediately review said episode to refresh my memory of the exact context.

Savannah's description:
"Momma! I'm watching the episode in season 6 when the whole family is fighting at dinner then getting along and then fighting and then getting along. It feels like our lives. Haha."

I received the message with a mix of pride and trepidation.

First, I was exhilarated that she was reminded of her own family and second, I was mortified that what inspired that comparison was fighting - then getting along - then fighting - then getting along.

I jumped into the tub, set up my bathtub office and re-watched the entire episode.

In the context of Savannah's declaration, and my previous countdown posts, I had several epiphanies during my review. Here you go:

1. OMG - Lorelai actually shows all the growth and insight I have heretofore claimed she was without! Yes, it's true! In this episode, Lorelai orchestrates a reunion between Rory and her grandparents (to which none of them consented) and counsels her daughter with these wise, wise, words:

"You and your grandparents are at a huge crossroads - a precipice, if you will - they are the bridges of Madison County and you are Meryl Streep...I know you and your grandparents are playing 'who can freeze out who the longest' - which I know can be fun - but if you ever hope to have a relationship with again, then someone needs to make the first move.

"I remember the first Christmas (yes - there's a Christmas tie-in!) after we left Hartford. We were at the Independence Inn and I got an invitation to their annual Christmas party and I didn't go, and that one move defined our entire future relationship."

Lorelai goes on to admit that her effort to break the ice so many years ago wouldn't have felt wonderful, but it may have been the first step to a different relationship and potentially different future for both her and Rory.

After Rory admits that it may - or may not have- made a difference, Lorelai pulls at her daughter's heartstrings, emphasizing how important a relationship with her grandparents has always been to Rory. Then Lorelai pulls out the big guns - she's already scheduled Friday Night Dinner for all of them - just like old times.

"C'mon - Friday night dinner - cocktails, Mozart, mind games, good times."

OMG! I have to reiterate the horrible text talk for this one. I actually feel badly for condemning Lorelia so harshly without giving her performance in this episode its due. She is the Lorelai I've always longed for - the one I knew was there somewhere - the one who was able to contribute to the growth and development of an exceptional daughter.

Kudos, Lorelai! Kudos!

2. Family dinners are prone to awfulness. I like to believe that when our family gets together it's always awesome, but I know that is likely not the total truth. While I, as the grownup, may have one perspective, my loinfruit may have another.

I tried to watch the melodrama of the Friday night dinner in question play out from Savannah's perspective. After a while, it wasn't a challenge to see what she was so ebulliently texting me about.

There was a veneer of formality and politeness, under which months and years of resentment, misunderstanding, fear, and love were bubbling.

They were all on edge until they were shouting outright at one another.

Then they were all admonished to behave civilly and give every one at the table their due.

Then they were all laughing uncontrollably as they all united in spiteful mirth against a common enemy.

Then they were dredging up age-old hurts and parading them out for good measure.

Then they were uniting again.

Then dissenting.

And so on...

I believe it is the combination of bi-polar responses and full cocktails that really brough thte episode home for my progeny.

3. Through the years, we all will be together...Even if it's only during the holidays, family will haunt you until the end of your days - and we wouldn't it any other way.

Whether we like it or not, family is hard to shake - and most of the time that's a really, REALLY good thing. And they're gonna stand by us no matter how much we go off their pre-planned course for us, or how many tattoos we get, or how much we vote for the opposite political party.

What watching this episode after the input of my daughter did for me, was to solidify the importance - and blessing - of family in our lives.

Rarely are we so motivated to understand the other side's point of view. To put aside our gut reaction to hear what someone else has to say. To look past our biases to see the best in others - because we see those others as human beings, and part of our whole.

The big, bad truth is that we very rarely see eye-to-eye with those in our lives. But there are reasons that we soldier on - business, friendship and family. And, when it comes to family, we don't really have a choice. Of course, we could choose to freeze out our family forever, but if those relationships matter, we're going to work to find a way to get to neutral ground. And that's exactly what this episode explores - and it doesn't make it pretty.

Whether we like it or not, we tend to love our family - and that forgives a multitude of (real OR imagined) sins. This "Gilmore Girls" episode shows us how to navigate those stormy waters. Next time you're at a loss for how to get past something with your great aunt or brother-in-law, sit everyone down in front of this episode and (if it's your style) pour a fresh round of drinks and watch a family that's more (for the moment) dysfunctional than yours.

And laugh, and shake your head, and use the break in tension to become friends again. Believe me, it will be worth it.

XOXO to all the families and other complicated relationships out there - love one another!

Day #8 - My favorite quote from the episode under discussion:

"I tried to timeshare a plane. It is in no way even close to the same thing."

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