On Thanksgiving, like all families, my small family all gathered together. My mom had literally spent 2 days – her only 2 days off that week – slaving over the menu, cooking and stirring and preparing for 10 people.
We were instructed to come over at 12. We all got there closer to 1. My sibs and I, plus our only NZ cousins in the States, all sat around while my mom worked relentlessly, catching up and having a laugh, and I realized I really only got to see these people all together, who literally live right down the road, on holidays.
We all fed and drank and reminisced, but here’s where the story sorta sucks: come 6pm, we all said we had better plans and took off. With my mom and dad left with 3 hours of dishes ahead of them and not one of their grown children to help them with it.
Driving to my boyfriend’s Thanksgiving (which was really fun, nevertheless), I was so ashamed of myself, and looking back I really should have turned around. I was totally overwhelmed with sadness and felt so cross with myself. I mean, come on: we really suck.
It got me thinking: why, just one day out of the year, can’t we all just turn off our damn phones and social lives and just hang out with our family? The people we grew up with? Why was I not in that kitchen hanging out with my parents who, in 5 years time, might be living halfway across the world? What had changed so radically in our adult lives where we had better things to do than to hang out with our family all day just ONE full day?
Growing up, it was practically laughable to consider going anywhere on Christmas / Eve or Thanksgiving. Friends’ houses were out. It was great – we all hung out, played games, etc. The unspoken rules relaxed as we got older, and now, my sister 24, me 27, my brother 30, I feel like I hardly see them at all each holiday before we all bugger off on our own again. We’re all consumed with our lives, our girlfriends/boyfriends, our jobs, and we fail to realize that in 10 years time, we could all be living states/countries apart, and it might be a miracle to get one person to fly in, let alone 4.
I just wish we each put more importance our tight-knit family, who grew up without cousins or grandmas nearby, marooned in the middle of the US. I wish I knew my adult sister and brother better, and I wished I too placed more importance on getting to know my parents as an adult than I currently do. And I really wish I had realized this sooner.
So, for the New Year, starting now, I’m going to make that my resolution: to get to know my family better.