Friday, November 25, 2005

'Tis the season...

I went Christmas shopping today. Yes, I know, to some anti-capitalism gift-griping friends this is a travesty, but it was what I wanted to do after working 16 hours yesterday (Happy effin Thanksgiving), sleeping in and then telling my boss I am leaving on Wednesday.

So, I went to Target looking for gifts for my sister, my mom and my dad. I already got something for my brother. Adrienne, my sister, wasn't too hard to find. But my mom and dad were really difficult, and in the end I caved and got my dad something typical and I am making something for my mom that I hope she enjoys.

But as I was shopping, I wanted to find gifts that would be meaningful to my family and that somehow seemed perfect. I had such an easier time shopping for Kevin. In fact, there were so many things I wanted to get him I had to finally stop and say enough.

Maybe I just wasn't going to find the gifts at Target, but I tried to think about gifts I wanted to find for my mom and dad, and I realized that I don't even KNOW what my parents would like.

I don't feel connected like I used to. Ok, I've always struggled to connect with my dad, whom I know loves me but he has a hard time showing me in non-critical ways and has been intentionally cruel. Now we just talk about the weather, which seems really sad to me. But I used to be so close with my mom, and felt like she really knew me as a person and cared about what I was feeling. And I enjoyed that connection, even when it was sometimes strained.

But now, after the past three months of changes and experiences, and in comparison to the developing "family of choice" I have on the road, I don't feel as close to my mom, and even more distant with my dad.

Yesterday I called my grandmother's house to speak with my family on Thanksgiving, and it was wonderful to spend 30 minutes being passed from my sister to my grandmother to my little cousins to my dad to my aunt to my mom, etc. etc. But at the same time, my heart didn't yearn to be with them. It as wonderful to feel their love across the miles, and I DO miss them, but it doesn't feel like HOME to me anymore.

And I don't feel so wrapped up in my family any more.

Someone anonymously posted a comment on my blog saying that I should think about how my family feels about my adventures, and I should remember that they are part of who I am and that they helped me come to a place in my life where I could do what I'm doing now. The part about the past is absolutely true. I have always felt that I am so lucky to have such a wonderful, steady source of support. That doesn't mean I need to always think about how they feel as it relates to my life, but I do need to think about HOW they're in my life. And I don't have the horrible relationships so many of my friends have with their families. Mine, in comparison, is quite nice and functional.

But it's not the same as it was three months ago. My parents, my siblings, my extended family members are no longer my primary sources of support and love and understanding. They're still there, and I want them to stay in my life and I know they will, but the past two days have really made me think about how my relationship with them is changing.

I think it's probably a natural process to move away from the family fold and create your own clan of friends. I'm enjoying the new relationships, and feel like I am indeed finding a place where I fit by choice, not by birth. But even knowing that I decided to leave and decided to distance myself from my loving family, I still mourn the diminishing closeness and wish I could think of Christmas gifts that feel like more than just easy purchases wrapped in pretty paper fulfilling an obligatory expression of love. But that's what they are. And part of me is really sorry.

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