Case in point: Christmas 2011. The scene: my cousin's house. The generation: mine -- pushing fifty, sixty, and a little bit more. We're parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles several times over ... and still, always, cousins and sibs. We're falling out of our chairs at fart jokes cracked at the dinner table. We are stealing the grandkids' presents -- this year it was a 'Spy Master' set that includes sunglasses with little rearview mirrors in the frame so you can see behind you. My cousin shoved a pair at me while I was walking through the kitchen; she said, 'Put these on and look behind you!' I did, and there she was, flipping me the bird and pretending to pick her nose. We fell over laughing. Nearby elders and elder siblings rolled or closed their eyes while snickering behind their hands, a few pretending repugnance; our children's generation either looked at us like we were nuts or loved us to pieces for being so bonkers, and the grandkids shrieked for more.
Our generation -- basically, the Boomers -- can be a blast at family gatherings. We not longer get roaring drunk -- just tipsy enough (on cocktails!...and scotch...What is it about elders and scotch?) to get even more garrulous and silly than usual. One branch of my extended family hails from Newfoundland, another from Scotland, so the same stories and jokes get told over and over again -- themes and variations on hilarity. We get high on the little ones' joy ... and on dessert. I myself overdosed on shortbread cookies that were loaded with chocolate chips. (Butter and chocolate: two of our main food groups, right?)
(I dare you to look at this image and not drool.)
Those of us who survive our midlife crises start to regress into a second childhood and we no longer care that we look like fools. We wear battery-lit, flashing Christmas-light necklaces and keep our party hats on through the entire meal. If we get a dud Christmas cracker, we forage for more and yell out for someone to grab the other end and PULL!
... Come to think of it, we didn't have crackers this year! This just struck me now. Somebody had a big brain fart and forgot the crackers (That would have been several of us, hee hee). No one complained, though ... because no one recalled that we had no Christmas crackers! No one brought a Whoopee cushion either. I will have to secure these items for next Christmas ...
(Aw...no one to crack the cracker with...)
As I was saying about our generation ... I recall a conversation I had with one of my best friends over a decade ago. We were imagining decrepitude -- seeing ourselves reclined in La-Z-Boy wheelchairs, blissfully altered in consciousness, ear-buds in place and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon cranked straight into our brains. What a way to ride into eternity! ... This beloved friend died nearly eight years ago (!!) and if there's any sort of afterlife, I want him to be my guide into it!
... Whoops, I digress. About regression: in trauma-talk, we tend to consider regression through a terrorized lens, and call it flashback or flipping out or dissociation. It is those things, often, in the aftermath. But over time, gradually, the joys of regression -- of flashing back to earlier times, before trauma -- can return, and be pure goofiness and goodness: fart jokes, spy glasses, making forts in the snow, hogging the last of the pie, piling up like puppies on the couch for a photo ... It's good to remember that some memories are laced with joy. Regression can be fun ... especially when it's shared with people you've known all your life ... people you've shared a childhood with.
(All images are linked directly to their sources.)