Thursday, June 18, 2009

Where is my family?



Ex-Pat did a post this morning , that started me thinking. Are families changing? He noted that most of his family does not stay in touch, despite so many ways to do so. Mine is much the same way. While I do not have a Facebook account, e-mail is easy, telephones (remember those?) are easy, not to mention my blog, which they all know about. But none, except one daughter, even reads it.

My extended family was adamant about getting together for certain holidays. When the children were small it was just a given that we spent Easter on a picnic, Fourth of July camping or at my brother's pool in Sacramento, and Thanksgiving at my house. Over the last two years it has all changed. Granted, our children are mostly grown and have other responsibilities, and live far apart. But, more than that, I feel an apathy towards getting together.

We no longer do Easter, younger sister didn't like how "the hunt" held money in some of the plastic eggs. Fourth of July turned into a huge debacle, unworthy of family participation, once my brother included all of his friends, and Thanksgiving is either without my children in our small place, or in Portland where we divide time with in-laws of my daughter. To say I miss having my family at my house, with the table set in my finest, is an understatement. But we no longer have the large home that accommodates families traveling, and the huge dining room with the big table.

So, like Ex-Pat, I'm left wondering - what is going on? Are we going to be looking to friends to fill the table in the future? Certainly we have a few that are in the same boat. Maybe a small get-together, with no family members in attendance? Or is this just a natural part of life? Children grow up and start lives that go in different directions, and we just need to roll with it. What about your family? Are you struggling with the same issues, or are you intact and looking forward to all the holidays complete with your extended family?

32 comments:

Meeko Fabulous said...

It's really hard splitting time between my in-laws and my family. Somehow it all manages to work out. My brother goes off with his wife's family, so it pretty much leaves me free to do what I want. Lately, I've been "blessed" to have all the family gettogethers at my house and it kills me cause I have to bust my @$$ cleaning. LOL

Anna said...

I think for us, it's always the feeling of HAVING to see these people that you love but you don't like...know what I mean? Your friends are people you love and like.

MzzLily said...

Oh, the dreaded Thanksgiving traditions. For several years, we joined Hubby's family. Not really the enjoyable day I was used to with my small dinners. Now we stay home and have my daughter's family up. Last year she brought her M-i-L and and B-i-L. They are fun, enjoyable people. No chaos.

I hear all the tales of those large family gatherings and I think it's always been that way.

Jeninacide said...

I think that family get-togethers are something that evolve and change over time. I don't mind filling my table and house with friends- to be honest I probably get along with them better! :o)

Brian Miller said...

interesting question...its seems in this day and age families are splitting up more and more. i don't mean divorce, which certainly happens a lot too, but when young adults get out of college they take jobs far from the family as opposed to staying close. through lay offs and corporate adjustments people have to go where they can find work. The saddest part in all of it is the death of family.

we still do holidays, and now that i have settled down from my jet setting career that kept me away we see them more often. we are 2 hours from my fam, and 3 from my wifes. closest we have lived int eh last 13 years.

most of my fam is on facebook now and we keep up with each other fairly well. no little house on the praire mind you.

you got me thinking today lol, sorry if i ran off at the mouth.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Saw a book at Powell's called The Second Half of Life. Took that as a sign for you!

scarlethue said...

I feel that way too, that holidays just aren't the same. For instance, Christmas as a child we'd have Christmas Eve with my mom's parents and sometimes my mom's sister and niece, then we'd drive up to my other grandmother's house where usually it was her, her mother, and my dad's two siblings and all their kids. Now I switch Christmas's between my husband's family (who still does big family stuff at least until last year, when Grandma died) and my family, who doesn't. My family's turn was this past year, and it was us, my little brother, my parents, and my Grandmother who couldn't tell you if it were December or July. It was kind of sad. I feel even worse for my parents on the years that my husband and I are with his family. I don't know what to do though.

CrazyCris said...

yeah, this is one of the things that saddens me the most about my family's crazy way of life... since we basically grew up all over the place my parents' siblings and my cousings weren't part of our "immediate" family picture, just people we saw from time to time who were family and who we had lots of fun playing with as kids but we were never great at keeping in touch.
In fact, of my Stateside family the only one I keep in touch with is my cousin who's my age, I only hear about the others through Facebook (we're all on there so at least that's something) and from my parents (who do make more of an effort).
As for my Spanish family... pretty much the same. I only ever felt a close connection to the two cousins who were my age (thanks to some crazy summers) and then later my youngest cousin who was just a year younger than my kid sister and spent lots of time here at home with us once my parents moved to Spain (she's also going to be the first over here to have a kid, amazing!). We all love each other but... let's just say my mom's siblings are to be taken in small doses. We used to get together for Christmas Day, but since my Grandfather died 2 years ago we haven't.

All this worries me that it might happen to my close-knit (immediate) family as well some day! In our case distance will probably complicate things... my parents will be in Spain, my kid sis in the UK or the US, me and my other sis who knows, but not very probable we'll be around here>. It's kind of sad, but it's a natural consequence of the way we grew up with all the travelling. But we do keep in touch via telephone, skype, facebook, emails etc so... we're doing all the modern age will let us!

Now, if only someone would invent a Transporter already! :o)

Andrea said...

I feel lucky that my family is close enough in proximity to spend most major holidays together. There was a while when I lived out of state and missed being with them. We all find it really important to keep it going.

My husband's family on the other hand hardly see one another. Maybe twice a year. And we live within 20 miles of each other. Not sure why.

The Good Cook said...

I am blessed with a large family and so is The Best Husband in The World. We divide years into mine (about 100 miles away) and his (about 600 miles away).

We have all remained close through the phone, facebook, visits, vacations, emails.. but it takes work.

But truthfully, family is who you love. I am 'aunt" to many of my beautiful friend's children and I have some "sister" friends whom I could not live without.

Where there is love, there is family.

Momma Moe said...

This seems to be going around...a few friends have commented on families not getting together anymore. I have a large extended family on hubby's side, and we're lucky if 4 out of about 30 locals show up for anything...ever! It's said, which is probably why I'm going to start letting a local restaurant do our holiday cooking (no muss, no fuss) or start turning the Thanksgiving long weekend off from work into a mini-vacation out of town (and away from Black Friday shopping temptations)!

Expat From Hell said...

I swear I am going to have a Blogger Thanksgiving, and invite all of my favorite Bloggers. Including you! At least you all are more responsive than The Children of the Corn.

EFH

Bee said...

When I was a child, we had EVERY SINGLE HOLIDAY with my three grandparents -- and all sorts of traditions, food and otherwise. We try to preserve some of that stuff, and I keep in close touch with my parents . . . but with everyone else, not so much. (As a sidenote, my parents do read my blog, despite initial resistance. They say it gives them a much better sense of what I'm thinking about and doing.)

I've lived as an expat before and friends definitely do replace family in that situation. In many ways, friends are just easier, aren't they? Less baggage; tend to have more in common.

This was a really interesting post.

Kathy G said...

Now that my children are grown, two of them live out of town...one six hours away and one two hours. (The third lives in a nearby suburb, but we don't see him much either. His free time mainly happens after midnight, long after I'm asleep!)

None of them have spouses yet, so they all come home for Christmas and Easter. Since I don't get to see them often, I'm not looking forward to the time when they have to spread themselves even thinner visiting with two sides of the family.

Lorna said...

Well, as a widow, I have spent a lot of those holidays alone. Actually I don't mind that at all as much as the thought of it and what some people might think of it.


~Lorna

Kate said...

Holidays are uncomfortable at our house. My family live too far away for practical visiting (over 1,000 miles)and I feel it acutely to know that my children have not had as much of their maternal grandparents as they should have. My husband's EXTREMELY large family are all in the area, but are so dysfunctional as to be avoided as much as possible. His Mother still desperately tries to pull everyone together for a 'Thanksgiving' dinner on a Saturday at some church somewhere because the group is too large for any one home. She goes to great expense and trouble for a group of people who are not predisposed to want to be in each other's company.

We usually end up planning some last minute get together with the few family members we do have relationships with.

Marguerite said...

Here's one thing about Cajun Country that you can count on. Seeing your family, not only on holidays, but every day or at least on the weekends. It doesn't matter if you live in a motor home, you can count on having your family drop in for everything from coffee to weekends. It's the Cajun way! :)

robert said...

Leaving 'home' about five years ago moving to the southern end of Europe left contact maily through the internet, but even there once a week sometimes is already often.
Many times because there isn't any other time left, other times because getting in touch leaves me with a 'bitter-sweet taste' behind, on one hand being happy to be on my own, on the other hand of being so far away, making it sometimes hard to remain in touch.

Star said...

I could write reams on this subject. I remember such happy times when we all got round the table at my mother in laws. Then, when she was too old, we all did it at mine. Now that time has passed because my sons go to their wife's or girfriends house mostly. I do get them, but not all together, sadly. Last year one of my sons went to Australia with his wife and had a great time, but I missed having them with us a lot. So, instead of lots, we now have a few. I think your idea of having a few friends round is a very good one. What are you doing next Christmas, may I ask?
Blessings, Star

Joanne said...

I've found that as the years go by, I more readily admit I like intimate, small holiday celebrations. My immediate family is intact, and that is exactly what we do, small celebrations at home. Extended family just got too complicated to keep up with.

Marlene said...

my family has definately grown apart with time..we all try the holiday thing...but usually there is some drama in the background about who is bringing who ...and who does not like who.. and it really becomes not as enjoyable as it was when we were young...I have alot of freinds that say this happens in thier family... I think friends are the family you get to choose....not given to you..don't you think????

nikina said...

My family was always very close...we never lived close together but a phone call was always an almost daily thing. then "something " happened and the family drifted apart. It's weird how one persons "breakout" can confuse a whole bunch of people. The one person was my moms' sister and I know thzat my mom suffers under the situation. Things calm down a bit and the rest of the family is getting closer together again. Me I am far away now but thanx facebook, calling cards and mail...we are still very close. I had the luck to meet a wonderful man and his big family adopted me right away. There are always big family gatherings. BBQS, Birthdays, Mothers day, Thanksgiving, Christmas...most of the time we don't sit at the same table but always in the same house...it feels very good :)

mouse (aka kimy) said...

wow...you have opened a real can of worms with this question -topic!

family? what is it any way?

I haven't lived any where near my family of in over 35 years so I like the notion of family of creation, and the members don't always have to be 'related'...

basically it's important to feel connected and accepted who cares who does it, eh???

Pat said...

I come from a big family - I have 5 siblings. After my parents died, my sister has tried to keep the tradition of the holidays with everyone invited over to her house. Since my husband and I travel full time in a trailer, I can't possibly have a holiday here! So due to many other reasons, my one sister has every holiday. But she doesn't seem to care, which is why I call her Linda Martha Stewart! We are on the road for Easter and Thanksgiving, usually, but we always fly home to celebrate Christmas with the family and our children. My kids are always welcome at my sister's house for every holiday. We are a very close knit family, and for that I am grateful.

dragonflydreamer said...

Wow, after reading all of the comments, I realize that I've been agonizing over issues that also effect many others. I shared a long comment over at ExPat's blog about all of the family gatherings, traditions, etc... of my childhood and teen years. Having two boys scared me early on because as you know, "a son is a son 'til he takes him a wife, but a daughter's your daughter for the rest of her life." I am afraid of lonely holidays without my sons, yet I won't guilt them and ruin their holidays either. I grew up watching old black and white movies and never imagined that my kids wouldn't live close by when they grew up. I'm just getting over an "empty nest breakdown" and so I think I will host gatherings and invite my closest family and friends and anyone who doesn't have anywhere to go and make the best of it. If my boys can't come home then maybe we will be able to save the money to take them and some day their families on a week long vacation to the beach once a year. I raised my sons to be close and I want them to be together even if they can't be with me. Wow, this has really touched my heart and given me more options to think about with everyone's comments. Thanks for always informing me, teaching me, making me think and touching my heart.

Deboshree said...

Hey there!
You are quite right. The thing is that we don't get to spend much time with our close relatives since most of them live abroad. Special occasions are spend between us itself and that they are not very special.I guess that is one of the reasons why I'm soo close to my friends.
As for your case, I guess it's just the circumstances which have led to such a situation.
Someone had told me that the greatest thing that you can give someone is your time and I think I totally agree.
But in today's day and age, everything seems so fast. People don't even have time for their loved ones. But I guess that's a part of life.

Love
Deboshree

Linda Pendleton said...

Yes, it seems things have changed for families. I hear that from everyone. I have a sense of freedom now to do what I want to do. And if that is to cook Thanksgiving for myself, or for a couple of friends, rather than family, that is just fine.

Shrinky said...

I host Christmas with my two sister's and their fam's coming over, it's probably the only annual ocassion we are all under the same roof together. I do feel sad my kids barely know their aunts and cousins, both sets of their grandparents died years ago. Having said that, when I was single family gatherings often turned into a nightmare, on balance, it feels good that when we do now meet it is not out of obligation, it is out of love.

Natalie said...

I think with five children - two late in life, I will never be lonely at the table.
That said, I spent many holidays alone, where friends would have been most,most welcome.xx♥

crone51 said...

I ran away from my family of origin by moving 3000 miles away from them for many years. Then I moved back. Now I get why I left in the first place!

However, I have been getting in touch with distant scattered cousins lately and that has been fun.

Phoebe Miriah Kirby said...

My grandfather used to call it the "Curse of generations." Families just aren't what they used to be and it's terribly sad. People are beginning to create their own network of families with their friends only.
All of my aunts and uncles hate each other. My cousins are on and off with one another. Everyone is always saying bad things about each other...

I have a dead-beat dad, and the rest of my family are constantly showing their teeth at one another. Maybe creating your own little family isn't such a bad thing.

Have you talked to your family about it, or is it better to leave it alone?

DJan said...

I really enjoyed reading all the comments on this (as well as the original post). When I retired last year, I moved into a part of the country where I knew not one person, and my husband and I have made new friends. I stay in touch with old friends and many of my family members on Facebook, and through my blog. It's funny, but I just don't feel a lack. Last Thanksgiving I had to choose what part of my family to be with, but I think that's wonderful problem to have.

Thanks everyone for giving such thoughtful and insightful answers.