With the holidays fast approaching, my thoughts have been on family a lot lately.
I look at my small, perfect family as we gather around the dinner table or snuggle on the couch, and I am content. We are a self-sustaining unit, made more so by the sheer distance that separates us from our extended families.
It’s a good thing. But also a, well, sad thing.
Tori is always asking about her grandmas and grandpas, her aunts and uncles, and her cousins. She knows which gifts came from her Grandma Page, asks when Grandma Oozy (Susie) will come visit again and wonders where her cousins are.
We explain that they’re all at their homes, in Michigan, and can’t visit often, but since she doesn’t have any notion of geography, the words mean nothing to her.
She just knows they aren’t there. That it’s just us three, except on really special occasions. That’s just the way it is.
It’s quiet. It’s cozy. And just a little bit lonely.
In contrast, we went to a birthday party yesterday. Not a big to do. Just a few friends, and assorted family. Both sets of grandparents, a great grandparent or two…normal stuff. What struck me was how easy it all was. Not planning the party, that always takes work. But how simple it was for the family to gather. They could pop in for a couple hours, then head home in the evening.
There’s no need to shuffle sleeping arrangements, book hotels or pet sitters. It just happens.
Tori will probably never know what that’s like.
That’s okay. When she does get to see our family, it’s always very special. And she gets more than a couple of fleeting hours with them. She gets days and days of quality time. There’s a lot to be said for that.
Plus, we miss out on a lot of the day to day drama that happens when you live in close proximity to your relatives. There’s no pressure to attend every little event or barbeque. No worry about who’s arguing with whom.
When we arrive, it’s automatically an Event, full of happy chaos.
But at times like this, times when we’re looking forward to a quiet Thanksgiving simply because we can’t afford to make two trips so close together (in terms of gas money, vacation time, and you know, mental health), I get a little sad.
I love my family just the way it is. But part of me will always miss being surrounded by my Family.
That’s just the way it is.