Why Must You Live Out The Songs That You Wrote?
Generally, I'm not terribly big on "the holidays". I'm not actively against them, mind you, it's just that I feel a certain amount of ambivalence. Some of it may simply be due to the fact that, in this part of the world November and December tend to be dark, cold, dreary months which sap your enthusiasm for just about anything besides sleeping and sitting around in your bathrobe eating warm chocolate chip cookies and watching bad television. And since I don't normally do either of those, there's not much to motivate me to get out of the house. In fact, if it weren't for being surrounded by full-spectrum UV lamps all day at work, I'd probably have a case of S.A.D. that would make an Existentialist feel positively cheery by comparison.
The other part of it is that I don't have much in the way of family in my immediate vicinity. My closest relatives (aside from a cousin who just moved into town recently, but with whom I've never been terribly close) are just far enough away that I don't have a great deal of regular interaction with them. This compares with a lot of my local friends who truly are locals: they have parents and siblings and aunts and uncles and cousins galore living within a few miles of them, so obviously there are a lot more opportunities to get together outside of the holidays.
Thirdly, I think I've just developed a stronger sense of independence over the years than some other members of my family. I'm the one who pursued a career in "the big city" away from the nexus of either side of my family, whereas many of them have maintained much closer ties. Two of my brothers live within a few minutes drive of my mom (well, one still lives at home - maybe someday I'll get into that), who in turn lives just a few minutes drive from her mom and sister. Two of my dad's siblings have side-by-side condo's in Portland, not very distant from their mother, and some of their kids and grandkids are relatively close by as well. In short, they're all pretty tight-knit. I'm one of the few notable exceptions.
In this respect I think I take more after my father (who just celebrated his 70th birthday yesterday - and who is probably reading this, "hi dad!"), and who I think in some ways got it from his dad. While each of us has exhibited varying degrees of sociability in our personalities, I think there's also been a tendency on all our parts to feel that we didn't really require the sort of close attachments that other members of our family seem to embrace. It's not that we're ANTI-social or ANTI-family, it's just that we don't seem to desire the constant contact with them that they do with each other. Also, I think each of us inherited a bit of the "wanderlust" that reaches back down the trunk of the family tree: the same urge to move that brought our ancestors here from Europe and Britain and who-knows-where in the first place. Maybe I'm off base a bit on that, but that's my impression anyway.
And it's not that we don't like our families, although I grant we've all had our portion of issues with individual members over the years (but really, what family doesn't to some extent?), and I think, at least for my dad and myself we genuinely appreciate the occasional opportunities to reconnect. But to some extent it's the fact that we don't see each other all the time that imbues those more infrequent encounters with greater meaning and significance; if we saw each other as frequently as some members of our family do, we might take it too much for granted and it wouldn't feel as "special".
Labels: Family, Holidays
on 10:12 AM