Family Ties

Ever since I was a child, I yearned for stability, tradition, warmth and love. My family was broken and operated in chaos and dysfunction by second nature. I became numb and felt like I was like a robot. I used to pinch myself just to see if I could feel something. While that pinch always stung, it was a small way that made me feel alive. Because I never felt like it. So much of my childhood and adolescent years were spent in this survival mode. While these defense mechanisms that I developed were not positive long term, they kept me level headed. They helped to keep me in one piece. It seems like defense mechanisms help for a short time, but in the long term they are damaging because they don't just go away when you no longer need them. I wish I didn't still have issues with this, but I do. I do love my family and I do love my parents. We just have very different relationships with each other, some a lot less healthier than others.

I wasn't able to defrost from this life of survival mode until I moved out of my house as a junior in high school. It was one of the best things that I ever did. I moved in with Amy, Christy, and Heather at age 17. They were all in their early 30's at the time. It was new and challenging in some ways, but wonderful. I miss that time and value that house we lived in together. Years later, we have all moved on. And now that I have Caleb, the holidays are different.

I used to be more indifferent towards the holidays. I was the gal willing to work whenever. I was happy with that. But NOW I am a lot more intense. At least mentally I go a little crazy. I think about things to do to commemorate and teach Caleb each holiday and rack my brain with what kind of traditions I might want to do with him. Because I don't come with traditions. I yearned for that as a child. I yearned for this familial connection and tradition. I never got it. And this year, I wanted a Christmas with my family so bad. We haven't had a Christmas holiday all together in over a decade. This year, I wanted this for Caleb. He knows and loves his dads family well. We both do. His grandparents are very traditional, stable, and loving. I am relieved and grateful that he gets to be in a family like the one his grandparents have created.

I wanted him to be with my family all together, for the first time. He has seen us all separately, but we have never done anything together with my parents AND with sister+bro in law. As much as I wanted my parents to be with us, we ultimately ended up being with my sister and brother in law during the Christmas evening, which was good. We also went Christmas tree shopping the day we did our own Thanksgiving get together. My sister and brother in law blessed us with our first real Christmas tree. Truth be told, I favor the fake ones with a toddler. Three times that child knocked that tree down. It was not cool with the water and pine needles everywhere.

I know my family will never be "normal". I know that "family" will just look different for us. I think with having Caleb at an age where he understands Christmas a little more this year, I had to understand this all over again. Because I didn't care when it was just me. I was perfectly happy not being around. Not having that connection.We were were all fine with it because we all did our own thing. And I still think this might have been healthiest. It definitely is for me at least. But with Caleb, my desire for this picture family resurfaced. I wanted Caleb to have these special memories and times with my family even though they never existed to begin with.

My sister similarly feels this importance of being present for holidays and birthdays and life. I am very glad for that, and very glad she married so well to have a partner that is truly a good match for her and supports her. I used to pray for her husband and hope he would be a good brother in law, and God totally answered. They are great together and this always makes me so happy.

Anyway, all this to say, I had to let go my idea of what family looks like for us. I had let it go long ago, but this year with Caleb, it was just a new thing for me to deal with. Maybe our family will evolve one day to include other people, nieces and nephews and maybe I will even get married at some point. That would be exciting. But for now, I am enjoying my time with such a special little boy and with the friends and sister+brother that I have. And holidays? Well, I am working on creating our own new traditions and special times. It helps that his dad and his family are so loving and amazing. And it helps that my sister feels the same way I do about this.

Peace and Love in this New Year. May God bless you all.