Christmas dinner has to be by far the most interesting dinner my family has had in a very long time. Coming home for the holidays this time around, I was worried about all the drama surrounding my family. Who will come for Christmas? Who would talk to who? What would be the big surprise no one saw coming (because there’s always one!)? In years past, I’ve felt so defenseless in these awkward situations often using my mom as a buffer between people and as a source of the gossip. This year, it was different. Being twenty three and living on my own (and away) for two years has made family members see me in a different light – more like an adult.
This year, I was able to intervene and stand up for myself along the way. This year, I was able to point out how silly some arguments have been and have a glass of wine while saying so. I’m not saying I solved all of my families problems tonight (not even close), but I felt more stake in this family now that I’m older. I spent more time in the kitchen preparing food and cleaning up this year. I can slowly sense the passing of the baton in a way that in a few years, my mom is going to expect me along with my cousins to be the ones to bring the family together for the holidays. Being an adult in this family has given me a sense of responsibility I never saw coming. Truthfully, the thought of getting older and being the one people depend on is very daunting and only makes me want to live further away where my excuse could legitimately be, “Can’t come home this year – too far away.” My cousins and I talked after dinner about how when it becomes our turn to host the family events, it will be different. Less stress, more togetherness and we’ll have fun along the way too. The thought of that actually makes it sound more exciting and more like something I would want to be part of consistently. We promised that we (along with future kids) wouldn’t behave the way our parents do at times because of how we’ve felt for so long about it. I deeply hope that’s a promise we can keep, but then I think our parents probably made similar promises and in the end, family happens.
With that, I’m reminded that we cannot choose our family and although we can complain about them, there’s a love deep down for for family (at least most of them). Surprisingly, my feelings about family come from my father who often reminded me that I should always do anything family even if the same type of love isn’t given in return. I understood what that meant a little bit more tonight. This holiday dinner made me cherish the times I’ve had with my family a bit more. I grew up a little tonight at the dinner table. Let’s see how I feel about this at Easter.