A common main course recipe for the holidays is a dish known as Dysfunction. “An acquired taste” is as polite as I can describe it. No one ever asks for a second serving, yet we have it every year, despite its potential aftermath.
To serve four, the recipe calls for one quiet and exhausted father, an obnoxious and controlling mother, and a set of sensitive siblings, a brother and a sister, impressionable and naive.
In a large pot, you combine the mother and the father. You will begin to notice some separation already, but this is normal. Next, throw in one part debt with an equal part of blame, a dash of jealousy, two scoops of insecurity, and one heaping scoop of anger. Now raise the temperature and bring the pot to a boil. Stir often to make sure it does not boil over.
After about ten minutes, or when you begin to see the ingredients are beginning to darken and bruise, bring the temperature down to a simmer. Next, we add one pregnancy and one set of twins, a boy and a girl. Following this addition, drain the ingredients and finally sit to let it cool.
While waiting, you prep for the next stage, which is child rearing followed by adolescent puberty, infidelity, and marriage counseling. Now, separate the mother and father into two equal parts.
This separation adds the flavors of bitterness, resentment, guilt, and shame, bringing forth the last stage for the recipe: divorce and midlife crisis.
Countless traditional holidays with the family are spent with this dish served as the main course. My mother makes this dish every year, even though she knows my sister and I hate it. My father does too, but he’s too passive to say so. Every year, we sit down as a family of four, and regardless of its cringeworthy aftertaste, we each partake in dishing up our annual serving of Dysfunction, year after year, time after time again.