Here we are at Finals Week. It’s very quiet so far, but then again, I haven’t cracked open the work email quite yet, or answered the phone messages.
We had our Christmas party on Saturday night in spite of the frigid weather and stormy conditions. About 2/3 of the book club and film group made it out for a viewing of Hogfather and a discussion of the Death strand of the Discworld books. I was too keyed up to sleep well after the party finished, and yesterday spent most of the day going through the motions of life and napping when I couldn’t. It was a dangerous day, the kind of day I could have driven a lawnmower off my driveway backwards.
Three other things happened on Saturday. My brother Ken called. He makes an effort to call once every six months. I used to try to call him, but his phone number tends to be a bit erratic, so I have found it best just to wait for him to get in touch with me. We chatted about a variety of things while he channeled the blizzard live, letting us know what they were getting in Southern Iowa, so we knew what would be coming our way.
One small point of conversation was how my mother might appreciate a phone call. I had a tight but sane conversation about how I’m not riding that train anymore, and he was pretty okay with that. After finishing the phone call and a quick check in with the husband to make sure I didn’t sound neurotic (the verdict was that I sounded sensible and sane while talking about Mom), I filed that experience under done, and set about putting a bunch of buns on a platter.
During Hogfather, a friend from Minnesota called. She lost her own mother last week, and the loss is raw. Her relationship with her mother was not an easy or simple one. As is the way of these things, she’s grieving, and she felt like perhaps she hadn’t handled the relationship well. There are also a host of family issues to be resolved.
I was pleased that she called me, and that Ken had called me earlier in the day, because it had given me a chance to re-affirm my own situation, and counsel her wisely about hers. Perspective can be great. I don’t mind being the friend you call because your own family is crazy, and you understand mine. She volunteered that she appreciated my advice because I was so sane, and I had to tell her how I had to ask Bryon earlier in the day if I’d successfully managed to keep my grip.
The holidays can be a tough time. Everyone wants to belong and there are these archetypes of parental-child interaction that bombard you. When yours don’t measure up, there are a host of feelings. Everyone is awkward in these situations.
But you know, I do belong. After I got off the phone, and the movie finished, I mentioned that Ken had called, and mentioned just a little bit about my family. My friend Michele stopped me cold and reminded me that the people at the party are my family now. That they were happy to be here.
Every time they do that, I realize that the accident of birth only keeps me from having a family at the holidays if I want it to. I’m getting more and more used to that idea, and I like it.
I hope you find peace of mind during your holiday season, and a measure of love with your real family, genetic and otherwise.