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Don't Be a Volunteer for The Dysfunction Games (May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor)

Gentle Readers,

The holidays are upon us once again.  Mockingjay, Part I will be opening on Thanksgiving.  This gave me food for thought: 

Don't be a volunteer for The Dysfunction Games this holiday season.

I  read "The Hunger Games," the first of a trilogy by Suzanne Collins, but did not read the other two books.  I read it for a neighborhood book club composed of mostly stay-at-home moms. We were planning to read both "The Hunger Games" and the second book, "Catching Fire."  I couldn't get past "The Hunger Games."  I was deeply disturbed by the idea of young people being chosen as "tributes" to kill other young people until only one was left standing.  I was even more disturbed by the fact that this was considered a YA novel and was being assigned in our local schools.

The stay-at-home moms loved the books.  I questioned their taste and never returned to the group.

If you've read "The Hunger Games" or saw the movie, you know the hunger games portrayed in the movie are rivaled in real life by what I would call The Dysfunction Games:  The weird, awkward, and oftentimes offensive social interactions that occur during the holidays when families with dysfunctional behavior and unresolved issues try to socialize in spite of their behavior and issues.

Truth be told, many folks participating in The Dysfunction Games don't know they're dysfunctional.  They have no filters, no sense of boundaries, and/or no manners.  And they're totally unaware, bless their hearts.  They're old enough to know better but too old to be raised better than they were.  All you can do is pray for them.  And avoid them.

Then there are the folks I would call "The Volunteers."   Like the protagonist in "The Hunger Games," Katniss Everdeen, they volunteer to be all up in the game.  Like Katniss, they know the game is wrong, evil, and offensive.  Unlike Katniss, they go in thinking they can change the game, i.e., get dysfunctional people to behave like they're not dysfunctional or, even worse, to see the dysfunction of their ways.

Don't be a volunteer.  You ain't Katniss Everdeen.  Here's why.

Katniss volunteered for The Hunger Games for a higher purpose -- to keep her younger sister from being killed in the games -- and with an edge -- superior skills as an archer.  Even if you have a higher purpose, i.e., to keep Aunt Mae-Mae from slapping the piss out of Cousin Mookie -- you probably don't have the superior skills necessary to make this work. Unless you're a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker or counselor, you do not have the skills to succeed in The Dysfunction Games.  You need to sit your behind on the bench and just watch.

However, the most important skill to have is to know when you're volunteering.  Did someone actually ask you to intervene between Aunt Mae-Mae and Cousin Mookie?  Even if you were asked, did you decline?  If your answer to either of these questions is "no," you're a volunteer.

Don't be.  It's only going to get worse.  Inevitably, someone will get drunk and start telling all the family secrets about affairs and the questionable paternity of some of your relatives.  Trust me, you ain't Katniss Everdeen.  You do not have an edge in The Dysfunction Games.

Happy Holidays.  May the odds be ever in your favor.

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