What I appreciate about their family is that they are great example of how a family looks. They evidently love each other, share that with others and there isn't a falseness about it. They are inclusive to the guests at the table and there is a distinct sense of community. I have been blessed to get to come back here for the last several years. It's almost like I'm some sort of distant cousin.
Over the last couple of years though, I have been getting an itch. I am slightly uncomfortable as I approach their door. Not because of anything that they do. It is purely me. But I start thinking about how I am still requiring them to be my venue for a Christmas. If they didn't have them it would not be much of a Christmas at all. I have been trying to ween myself off of their dinners. The first couple of times I went, I was fine with that because I couldn't get home and I figured that it'd be a good thing. Now, I still need that dinner to have a Christmas and that doesn't sit right. For myself, a couple of times is fine, but now I feel like it's a sign of me not getting my life in order.
I really wanted to go home for Christmas. I wanted to go with Darwin back to Minnedosa and spend it with mom and have a semblance of a real Rae family Christmas which we have not had since 2003. Last year, the three of us were together but we still couldn't summon our own Christmas so we went to the Andersons'. This year was supposed to be different, but it turned out the same because I don't have a lot of money.
What it all comes down to is that I really want a family but I don't know how to create family. I see how the Andersons are at Christmas and I want that for my family. I realize that a lot of people are not the Andersons and I also realize that the Andersons assumably are not perfect (although evidence of that is not apparent), but that's what I want to work toward. I have no idea what that looks like. I saw it again last night as I was hanging out with my friends, Brad and Trish. They had their Christmas tree up and lights and little Christmas decorations that they put up together and gifts under the tree. When I saw how many gifts they had under there I was kind of taken aback. It means that either they bought a lot of gifts for each other (which I can totally see since they are definitely still in that lovey-dovey honeymoon phase) or that a lot of their family had sent them gifts. I'm not a big materialist and I don't want a bunch of stuff at Christmas or anything, but they definitely had a connection to their family and possibly to their extended family that I do not. The Andersons have so many in their family they have to do an arrangement of one person gets one other a person a gift instead of requiring everyone to buy a gift for everyone in their battalion. They have too many people for Christmas. I have to buy two and I'm done. And I have a ridiculous extended family.
Both my mom and my dad come from the generation of ridiculous family sizes. My dad had something like nine brothers and sisters and mom had eleven or vice versa. But we don't see any of them. I don't really know any of them. I think the state of my family is evident in the fact that I don't even know the number of them. I have tried to go and see some of them, I try to talk to them at funerals (which is the only way I have seen my family). I know I am not blameless in this because I have family in the city that I don't see but I haven't carved out time for them.
Admittedly, an extended family the size of mine is perhaps a little much for a person to try to keep current with, but I don't even have this family thing figured out enough to have a proper Christmas with them. That doesn't seem right to me.
That's why when I go to the Andersons for the nth time or see Brad and Trish's tree I regret the state I am in. I thought this Christmas was going to be different. That I was going to make it different, but I didn't have the discipline to do it. When I was with Rebecca, I was actually looking forward to Christmas, because I thought I could make it different. Move towards a family. However, I have to come back and leach another Christmas for my brother and I from a family that knows family.
Don't get me wrong. I love the Andersons and their welcome for my family to the table. I don't want this post to come off as an attack on them. If anything, I want them to know that they are the model of family I want to emulate for my own. It just sort of hurts to go there. Just a little.
This all said, I am thankful to God for growing up in a family, broken and lacking as we are, that is not an abusive one. One where we know each other's faults and want what's good for each other, it's just that we can't seem to pull it together. I am thankful for a brother that is my reminder of a life of simplicity. A life that is content with who he is. I am thankful for a mother who has done her best to bring me closer to a savior that she strives to follow. I am grateful to have found a church family that in times of need are willing to bring me into their family. I am grateful to have some fantastic people who are there to encourage me and challenge me when I need it most. I am thankful for the example of Jesus that gives me a structure to develop myself as a better person.
I am thankful for Christmas, not only as an important religious holiday to remind us that Jesus has come to show us the way and also to remind us that he will come again, but I am also thankful for it as a cultural day to reaffirm the importance of family. Families can be the shelter that helps us through the rough spots and give us the encouragement to become better people and better followers of Christ.
"Is there a cure among us?
From this processed sanity?
I weaken with each voice that sings
In this world of purchase
I'm gonna buy back memories
To awaken some old qualities"
- "Run" from Collective Soul's Dosage