Saturday, November 19, 2011

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Families, Distance, and the Holidays

Table for 4?

Dadda monkey and I live hundreds of miles from any relatives. It doesn't hit us that hard until the holidays or when a special event happens. Dadda monkey's sister-in-law just had a baby and with Thanksgiving around the corner, we're feeling a little nostalgic. I miss the formal Thanksgivings my mother would host. Plus my Mom is a much better cook than I could ever hope to be.

I'm lucky to be surrounded by great friends though. When I lived in the DC area, a friend would invite us over for 'orphan' holidays. We'd get together with others who didn't have family in the area and we'd have a great time. Last year, a friend invited us to her house for Thanksgiving and we loved that it gave the kids a feeling of family and togetherness. There's nothing like celebrating Thanksgiving with others. This year she invited us again and I jumped at the gracious invitation.

However, we'll still miss being with extended family. I'll be honest, like all families, we've had our differences with one another. One of my main faults is that I lack empathy and openness when it comes to my in-laws, and my Mother and I have a tenuous relationship, but I'd like to feel like part of a close family at least for my kid's sakes. These are the times when I feel bad that my kids won't get to know their aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents as well as they could have. I didn't grow up with much extended family nearby, but I was lucky that my cousins were close in age to my sister and I, and our parents ensured that we visited each other regularly. I spent a period of time every year in Kentucky with my Dad's family and my Mom's family would visit us (at least) annually.

We'd consider visiting family for Thanksgiving, but it hasn't been in the cards for us yet. My parents are busy with their retirement lives. More on that later, but their social calendar is almost busier now than before they retired and they do make a specific trip every year to visit us. Dadda monkey's family all lives close to one another so it'd be easy to visit all of them. However, since they're all there, it ends up being a big commotion. It's gotten so bad in the past that we've sometimes felt slighted and regretted making the trip up there, which is never a great result, especially since we're trying to show the monkeys how important family is. Again, I've got to work on this empathy thing, but it can be really difficult sometimes.

We've invited family to join us for the holidays, but it's out of the way for everyone to come down here and so they just make plans amongst themselves. That's what hurts the most is to think that it's a hassle for family to visit our monkeys. Again, if it were just Dadda monkey and I, it wouldn't be a big deal, but I really feel like the monkeys are missing out. We'll continue to try to ensure the monkeys know who their family is and that it's important to make time for one another. In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy the generosity and company of friends. Happy Thanksgiving!


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