On Thanksgiving we had dinner with my father and stepmother. My sisters and brother were elsewhere. My daughter is up in the Pacific Northwest, my son is home. Can’t say we’re doubling down on tradition this year: we ate out for Thanksgiving; we’re going to have, for the first time in my life, an artificial Christmas tree. With colored lights: High WASP sacrilege.
Despite our untraditional plans I feel quite familied-up. Although my mom flickers in and out of her Alzheimer’s, my father and stepmother are as present and thoughtful and fun as ever. I have siblings and step-siblings, I feel like their personalities keep me company even when they are not here.
And of course my two adult children. Neither of them have started families themselves but they are both, what, embarking, yes, embarking that’s the word, on work/careers they have come to independent of me. In fact without much assistance at all. My daughter, as I’ve told you before, is a neurosurgical resident. My son, as I’ve not told you yet, is in his first year of an MFA in Creative Writing, down in Southern California. Isn’t that cool? The little guy with chubby feet coexists in my imagination with the bearded person carrying a coffee cup into the living room.
Also my beloved husband.
I think I mean to write about conscious family.
I love the instinctual sort, don’t get me wrong. An absent-minded pat on the shoulder, stockings hauled out of the garage, remembrance of brussels sprouts past. Feeding a crowd. Playlists: Oh Come All Ye Faithful. All I Want For Christmas Is You. But I am slowly, slowly learning something more conscious. I have to – I’m alone in my house a lot, I have to watch that I don’t try to comfort others just because it comforts me. I have to make sure not to get so lost in feelings of love and identifying that I forget that sometimes sad things happen and they are not to be fixed. That people don’t always want help. Need has to be defined by the needer.
I feel I need to mention cranberries here, I’m not quite sure why.
So here’s a tradition. People need things from each other. Families are to make that OK. However it happens.
Have a wonderful weekend.