Family Practice: Judge not Duggars nor Christmas lightsWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It is my understanding that the Duggar family of TLC fame is poised to welcome a 20th child. I mainly know this from the public shock and horror over the announcement. From what I gather from the reaction, the general public has declared that the mother, Michelle Duggar, is too old to have another baby, has too many kids already, makes the older kids take care of the younger kids and, in short, should be sterilized.
I admit that it is no doubt surprising to hear of a family having 20 children, especially in a country that is barely clinging to its replacement birth rate, but of all the things I’ve heard in the news the past year, or even the past couple of weeks, news of a pregnancy is hardly among the most heinous. As far as I can tell, the Duggars have the financial means to support their children, attend to their children’s needs and raise them to be responsible citizens. I’m just not sure that loving, cohesive families are the kind of thing we should be spending our time condemning, no matter how big they are or how different they are from our own.
As we enter the American holiday season, I am also about to suggest that we consider re-nicknaming it The Season of Giving Unsolicited Opinions. Not a day seems to go by that I don’t hear a declaration that the Christmas season has opened for business too soon, infringing greatly upon the lives of many. Apparently, the stores have prematurely decked their halls, the radio stations have unseasonably started playing Christmas music and our friends and neighbors have jumped the gun on hanging their Christmas lights and other decorations. It is a travesty that our children just can’t enjoy Thanksgiving unaccompanied like we did when we were kids.
I used to buy into the idea that Christmas was coming earlier every year and shivered at the thought of it along with my fellow traditionalists. However, two things have changed my mind. The first is that I have about 28 million more things to do, items to prepare, events to attend, etc., during the Christmas season than I did as a child, so every extra day that I’m immersed in the spirit before Dec. 25 is actually a tremendous help. The second is that I no longer believe that it’s true. While watching “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” one night, I realized that Charlie and Sally were already bemoaning the Christmas stage being set too soon and interfering with Thanksgiving — in 1973, before I was even born. Good grief.
I will not pretend to be able to proclaim innocence when it comes to quick, harsh or petty judgment. For example, although I rarely admit it and usually only to the closest of friends, I don’t quite understand exercise equipment.
When there are windows to be washed, yards to be tended, dogs and children to be walked, walls to be painted and furniture to be moved, it seems odd to me that our modern go-to physical activity involves driving down the street to pay for exercise that involves moving in place with a room full of strangers.
My aversion goes beyond just exercise equipment. While I understand running to the store or a friend’s house, or even around the block a few times for the health benefits, running 26.2 miles just to see how quickly you can do so doesn’t make much sense to me. Still, it doesn’t irk me to see exercise equipment sold in just about every store or a gym on every other corner. Some people — many, many people — love and even live for such things. Yet, if they can have their odd-to-me exercise rituals year-round, why can’t I have a couple of extra weeks of holiday season without public complaint?
Just because I understand running a few miles but not 26.2 doesn’t mean that I should scold those who run that far, chide them for the time spent training and cost involved, complain that their races are tying up traffic or inform them that people sometimes die running marathons. In the same vein, just because we, as a society, understand having two or three children, but not 20, doesn’t mean that no one should be doing so. Yes, I feel like I can barely handle my three little bundles of joy some days, but if someone else can handle 20, more power to her.
Columnist Shannon Szyperski and her husband Michael are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at email@example.com.