Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Memories of Christmas (Just) Past

What can I say about my holiday trip down to Georgia? I find myself at a bit of a loss on how to proceed to be honest. Maybe I've been away from the keyboard for too many days or maybe I'm too far removed from the memories.

But there are a few things that I can mention.

First, there is a distinct difference between being one of the in-laws and being a sibling. Since I spent time with both families on this trip (though I spent more time with my family as it turned out) I can reflect on that issue. Being a blood family member (as opposed to being a legally included member) means you have a depth of experience with those around you that can't be replaced. Lynda's parents and brother have never been anything but welcoming, loving, supportive, whatever you could ask for or expect from your spouse's family . . . but they aren't the same, can't be the same, SHOULDN'T be the same as my family.

I admit that I am biased in this regard. I have always had (as I have stated in this forum before) a blind-spot of love and affection for my parents and siblings. I realize that they aren't perfect and each of them has their own quirks, personality traits and flaws. But they have been a part of my life experiences for as long as I have memories. And I am blessed that so much of it is happy, supportive, nurturing memories. That can't be duplicated by anyone else.

Lynda of course should agree with me, but from the other angle. I see how she interacts with her family and I recognize the rhythms of their shared history, shared memories. I can't intrude upon that and I don't want to.

Second, I was able to spend some time reflecting and having conversations with both of my brothers during the visit, but did not have that same amount of "catch up" time with my sister. This undoubtedly occurred because she now lives in Tifton and has her own home to return to at night. Plus, her youngest son was sick during the visit, so she had more evening time spent with him than at Mom and Dad's place. I get to see them all so infrequently, it sometimes seems that we spend all of our time covering the basics of life (progress of jobs, status of children, movies/books recently watched . . . the typical small talk stuff) and never get to anything more meaningful.

I don't know what I expect this more meaningful stuff to include, to be honest. I recognize that most siblings struggle to even get this stuff out of the way and then what? They don't know where else to go, but they don't really WANT to go anywhere else. But, I hope that I can get more out of my time with my family. They are important to me and I don't want to just go through the motions.

Secretly I sometimes feel like I'm the most outside of my family now, because I am so far away and see the rest of them so infrequently. I know they aren't having monthly dinner parties or anything--they each have their own busy lives. But given my geographic distance I am less knowledgeable of their life and the things that are happening to them. It makes all the small-talk necessary, but it maybe makes it seem more hollow as well.

Ultimately, it's on me I suppose to maintain contact better than I do. So, I guess that will be another resolution for this year (as it probably was for last year as well) . . . do a better job of keeping the small talk up to date. That way, the important stuff can be dealt with when there is time to talk about it.

(To see pictures taken during the trip, click on my Flickr photo box. It's on the right side of the webpage and down a bit.)

No comments: