Thursday, December 23, 2010

Why I Keep This Up (Christmas)

The truth of the matter is, I don't know my family all that well. I mean I really don't know a good majority of them. Sure, I know their names, their rough ages, where they live, and a few other broad details. However, I know the same things about other people I casually interact with. In total, I probably spend more time with one random person at the bus stop every year than half of the people I am blood related to in some form or another.

I'm going to venture a guess that my situation is the same for many people, especially those who have moved further than 100 miles away from the place they grew up. I can only assume that part of this is because for seven years I lived over 300 miles away from home. Now, I'm a three day drive - 1700 miles. However, I felt this rift start long before I was even out of high school.

Blood relation doesn't guarantee a relationship. There is a degree of effort that is essential to building bonds. It's the reason that some friendship that lasted throughout 12 years of grade school can dissolve quickly after only a year away at college. Some family members have invested this effort, and I've reciprocated, and those relationships are strong.

I'm a picky person with friends, the people with whom I choose to associate with more than necessary. I can get along with almost anyone, but there are a select few that make the cut. Some happen to be family members, others I've collected from various places along the way. I like to think that I like people as a whole, this is exemplified by my annoyance with people who loath humanity.

I find it rather disturbing how little I know about some of the people I have a family relationship to. Shouldn't I know more than name, age, occupation? Shit, I'm not even sure I know occupation for all of them. I don't really know. I just know how things are.

So why do I, year after year, get together for Holidays with people I hardly know, that I hardly have anything in common with? I'm not even entirely sure that all of my relations give me a second thought, so why do I persist in this ritual? I've thought about this at length (especially after daydreaming about not coming home for Christmas and going on a cruise because Christmas in Connecticut it cold, and cold sucks). The conclusion I have reached is that, unlike the friends I have, many of my family members have been around for all or most of my existence. They can remember things from when I was too small to recall anything. They know about people that I never met, who in some way influenced my existence (deceased grandparents, for example). They hold all this information; and, if I lose them, I innevitably lose a part of myself. Maybe that's why every time I go away it's painful for me with the special ones, the ones that know me best, the ones I actually know something about.

I will say this: I spent my first Thanksgiving without a blood relative this year. I didn't have much of a shared history with anyone there; so, as much as I love them, and as nice as it was, it wasn't the same.

So, despite the fact that I don't know much about some family members, I'm going to keep up the ritual of getting together a couple times a year for as long as I can. I like rituals, they are predictable and they make me feel safe. Besides - despite the fact that I can't logically explain the warmth I feel towards these people, it is nice so who really cares? And it could be worse. Much. Much. Worse. I've heard about worse, and I'll take my chances with my own family, thanks.

So, bring on the perogies, and I'm sorry if the eggnog sucks this year.

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