Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Really Do Have a Normal Family, Afterall

I know that this is a dreaded time of year for many people. Walking with someone the day before Thanksgiving, I asked the cliched question, "What are you thankful for?" The question was turned around, and I told him that I was thankful for so many things: Supportive family. My health and well-being. My new life in Madison. My loving dog. My happiness. I went on to say that Thanksgiving is not what it should be. When we have a family gathering, are we really celebrating the Indians and the Pilgrims coming together for a feast? Most people aren't.

Thanksgiving morning was very sad for me. For the first time ever, I decided not to go to Cleveland for our traditional holiday meal. All of my friends left town. None of them have family in Madison. I went for a long run outside, and felt 100% better. I was able to spend my Thanksgiving with my family who does live in Madison, and we had a small, yet lovely dinner. It was really nice.

Now, we are onto the joyous season of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or what have you. When moving to Madison, for some reason, I thought that I wouldn't feel the comfort of having family, but I feel like we have created our own little "closeness" - my aunt and uncle, their two kids, my sister, brother-in-law, and my nephew.

My sister and I recently pointed out that for whatever reason, our ex boyfriends and old friends grow attached to Mom and Dad. They LOVE our family. Now, everyone thinks they have a dysfunctional family. I know a ton of people who are dreading Christmas with their families. And it was brought to my attention that even though our family has had, at one time, all of the usual suspects: alcoholics, affairs, depression, near death experiences, drug problems, arrests, etc., whose family hasn't?

Our little family in town had an intimate dinner the other night. My guest for the evening told me that their family gatherings are chaotic and never have that warm "vibe" that my guest felt. My guest went on to say how nice everyone was. Time, and time again, I have had people tell me that our family is so welcoming, the conversation is friendly and at times, I think, quite interesting. (Not always, but sometimes....)

Now, I have had holiday meals at other people's homes, and I have to agree with my guest. Reflecting on it, I have found that the table conversation can be superficial and shallow, and, many times, I have had dinners where the host/hostess is extremely stand-offish, and has no interest in talking to me, and I like to talk.

Every family has issues. And while you may be celebrating Christmas on Thursday, you probably won't be thinking about the birth of Christ, but maybe the stress of getting together with your dysfunctional family. But, this guest of mine made me realize that I do have a pretty normal family, after all. No drama here.

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