I made my usual phone call to my family this morning. Traditionally, they ALWAYS eat Thanksgiving dinner at noon. I called just before that time to wish everyone a Happy day and found that this year was no different.
Pots and pans were clanging around in the background when my cousin Michelle answered the phone. The usual “I wish I was there” “We wish you were here” sentiments were exchanged, Michelle and I gave summarized upates on our lives, and then she handed the phone to my memaw who gushed “CHRISSY!” just like she always does when she finds that it’s me on the other line. It always warms my heart. If ever my spirits need a lift, I need only to call my memaw because she always does that.
I heard voices in the background as my memaw and I talked and she periodically gave me updates on everyone’s arrival..”Oh your mom just walked in!” …even hollaring “WOO HOOO!” when my uncle who is late by at least a half hour at least 99% of the time…actually showed up *gasp* on time. I laughed, acknowledging who I really get my dramatic tendencies from. “You’re so funny memaw…I love you.” I said to her as I smiled.
I’m accustomed to being distant from my family. From the time I was 17 and college bound, I was determined to see the world and form my own life. I needed to do that to heal from the dysfunction that helped shape me into who I was. I tried for so many years to disassociate myself from my past. Not that I was ashamed of my family….I just found that as I got older, the less I had in common with them.
I still came home for visits often, at least when I lived in NC. But often, I would find myself exasperated by the end of the visit…anxious to get back to my own life. Finding that though I loved and missed my family, the life I’d made for myself had made me even more of a stranger.
Sometime after I moved to Alaska….I began to see things differently. I’m still an independent person, determined to live her own life, but I find that I now appreciate the differences between me and my family. I acknowledge that had my life been any different growing up, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. And you know what? I think I like who I am. I’m growing on me. Heh.
But most importantly, no amount of running from it would change anything about my past. Things happened. We ultimately have to get past it all. It isn’t always easy and sometimes we need help doing it but it can be done.
With all of our differences, our problems, our dysfunction, they are still the only family I have. I know that when I make a phone call home, they are always happy to hear from me and you know what? I’m equally as happy when I hear a familiar voice 3000 miles away.
I also know that when the world walks out, they will be there to catch me when I fall.
So, be thankful for your family. Embrace the dysfunction. Forget the fighting and bickering, put aside your differences, if just for today. Be thankful that every member of your family has an influence in making you who you are. Be thankful you’re alive and able to go through the things you do. Even if they aren’t always easy and pretty. Wouldn’t life be really boring if things always were?
Author, Pat Conroy wrote “When it comes to family, there are no crimes beyond forgiveness.”
Remember that today.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!