In a nod to the upcoming holiday season, the blog challenge prompt this week concerns the headaches and joys of family get-togethers.
My family doesn't get together all that often. We're far flung: Ohio, Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alaska. This Thanksgiving will be the first time in several years that my parents, siblings, and myself will be together. With Dad's ill health, we need to get some family photos.
My husband's family takes a collective vacation in Tennessee almost every year. Frankly, I prefer not to go. It's not because I don't like them. Unfortunately, we have nothing to talk about and no interests in common. Their conversation focuses on sports and people whom they know. I don't know those people and I don't follow sports. They're not interested in literature or horses. My family, in contrast, will talk ... er ... argue about anything. Nothing's off the table. Politics or religion or anything else controversial? Bring it on!
Other than conversation, there's the matter of personal space. No one has a home large enough to accommodate everyone. At my family's gatherings, we retreat to hotels. My husband's family rents a huge cabin and everyone stays there. Regardless of the generosity in not having to pay for accommodations, I really don't like sharing a bathroom with eight other people. It's uncomfortable enough sharing a bathroom with one other person.
So, I'm selfish. I prefer my privacy and my space. I don't like being told where to be and when or what to wear. Vacation is supposed to be a break, a time during which I do as I please when I please how I please with none to gainsay me or my decisions.
My kids grew up with both types of family gatherings. I think they can appreciate both. They enjoy my husband's family's close-knit gatherings and my family's anything-goes conversation. One memory makes me smile with regard to conversation starters. My elder son dropped a conversation bomb: There are two kinds of people, those who pee in the shower and those who lie about it. Believe it or not, that sparked a solid 45 minutes of lively discussion. Dropping that into my husband's family, it would sink like a rock in a sea of appalled expressions.
Although my husband and I both grew up in rural neighborhoods in the same county, our families differ greatly. Some things still remain uncomfortable even after 31 year of marriage.