Monday, November 16, 2009

On Living Far Away

I have the kind of family that is rarely all in one place at one time. My brothers and my sister all have families and are scattered around the country and our schedules/incomes/vacation days hardly ever coincide to make for a family reunion. It's been almost two years since we were all together. That's not to say I haven't seen my individual siblings or my Mama Llama for that long. That's just the last time we were all of us together.

This year, everybody is descending on my mom's house in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving. Everybody but my little family, that is. And as soon as I heard the news, I started plotting and trying to figure out how we could get there. I'd love to go, but then again, traveling during a holiday weekend with a toddler? No, thank you.

We made a decision at some point that we would not venture back to the home land during the holidays. It's hard to spend Christmas without our big boisterous families, but weighing that against the pains of air travel and the inherent stress of the holiday, and it doesn't generally make for vacation, per se. We thought we'd much rather go back home during the spring or summer and spend time at cousins' ball games and swimming or fishing. But then, when the holidays come around and we're wandering around the house discussing whether making a turkey is even worth it for the two of us, we wonder if we made the right decision.

This year, we'll be spending Thanksgiving with some of the Bubba's work colleagues. Some people that are in the category I named "Work Orphans." These are the people who also have family far away and don't go home - slash - have visitors for the more minor holidays like Thanksgiving and Easter. There are kids to play with and good food to eat, so it's always a good time.

Christmas, though, is harder. I get really excited about the holiday season. I love the cookies and the spices and the lights and tree. I love the stockings and the baubles. And my favorite part is getting presents together. Casting on knit woolies, picking out something that some person will love. And it's kind of hard not being around for the opening of those gifts and the sharing of wine and the gorging on cookies with family.

This is the time of our yearly Should We Move Back? conversation. Nobody with their wits about them would have that conversation in the Seattle summer when we live in the most beautiful place on Earth. We have to weigh the Awesomeness of Seattle against the Potential Awesomeness of Easier Access to Family.

Lucky for us, last week out of the blue, the Bubba's parents got some plane tickets to use before the end of the year. They'll be coming the week or two before Christmas and we'll have some of that Christmas Family Time. We are looking so forward to it! They haven't seen Lucy and vice versa since JANUARY. That is, a year ago. So we're excited.

It's been averaging about once a year that our parents come here and about once a year that we get back to Wisconsin. And it's frustrating for everyone involved, I think. Every time we have two nickels to rub together, I feel like we're spending it on airfare to see family when we should be saving for a house or paying down our student loan debt or something. And I know that they feel the same way.

I love Seattle, and I know my Bubba does too. And the thought of moving back to the midwest is kind of saddening. And yet. The thought of living closer to family and having Lucy know her cousins and have a special relationship with her grandparents, and being able to enjoy our own siblings and family is really attractive. Every time a friend mentions leaving their kids with their parents in order to [fill in the blank with something ridiculously fun like quality time with her husband or (gasp) ALONE], I have to consciously quell the instantaneous knee-jerk jealousy.

But, for now, this is where we are and this is where we want to be. Grandma and Grandpa will come in the holiday season to help with the Cheer, and hopefully the Llama will come when the winter is starting to feel long in February. So this winter it's not going to SEEM like we're so far. And that feels good for now.


Carrie said...

Hugs. It is so hard, isn't it. Daniel and I were just talking about this today. And we've got it better than you do, at least we have some relatives nearby. Glad his parents will be able to visit soon though, that's great!

Amy --- Just A Titch said...

Glad you'll have family time soon! Big hugs.

barbetti said...

I'm sorry, because I know exactly how you feel. Steve is working overnight on Thanksgiving, so Dublin will probably have some pureed carrots and I'll probably have frozen pizza. Not having family close is rough.