A World of Their Own Making: Myth, Ritual, and the Quest for Family Values

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Basic books, 1996 - Family & Relationships - 310 pages
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Our whole society may be obsessed with "family values," but, as historian John Gillis points out in this entertaining and eye-opening narrative, most of our images of "home sweet home" are of very recent vintage. In fact, our most cherished family rituals (Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, white weddings, reunions, Father's Day, and Mother's Day) didn't even exist until the Victorian era.
A World of Their Own Making questions our idealized notion of "The Family," a mind-set in which myth and symbol still hold sway. As the families we live with become more fragile, the symbolic families we live by become more powerful. Yet it is only by accepting the notion that our rituals, myths, and images must be open to perpetual revision that we can satisfy our human needs and changing circumstances. Our families are worlds of our own making. By using the past to throw light on the present, Gillis empowers us to enjoy and accept responsibility for our own creations.

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Contents

At Home with Families of Strangers
20
Life and Death in a Small Parenthesis
41
PART II
59
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

John R. Gillis is a professor of history at Rutgers University.

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