I recently went to the Adirondacks for three days with my siblings and our 87-year-old mother. I can’t remember the last time that we were together without anyone else (spouses, children, or animals) around, and I think that most of us felt at least a little apprehension about what it would be like. Half way through the weekend, I found myself exhausted. The home that we had rented was perfect; a grand old place with a large cozy living room, lovely fireplace, spacious porch, and great location on a lake. The setting couldn’t have been better but it wasn’t the outside stuff that mattered…it hardly ever is.
Even though I grew up with these people, I realized that I didn’t know them now. We’ve all developed comfort zones with the people in our immediate lives, and these unique ways of communicating don’t extend themselves to people who we don’t spend a lot of time with. A couple of times, I said things in what I considered to be a normal, straight forward, manner, and they were taken as offensive. Although my siblings and I have the bond of love, the little daily routines and nuances of life (that are accepted and naturally become a part of relationships with time) were not there, so at times it felt oddly “formal and stiff”. On the one hand there was a feeling of utter familiarity and on the other was a feeling of needing to explain myself, watch what I said, and not step on toes.
Returning home on Sunday night, I went to bed at 6p.m. and slept until 7 a.m. the next morning. I was so happy to be back with Jack and the animals and I knew that my siblings felt the same way about going back to their homes and lives.
In the final scenes of the movie, Home the Holidays, after the craziness of the gathering, each member of the family (who all seemed equally nuts in their own unique way) joyfully returns home to their families and the lives that they’ve created apart from their family of origin. It is one of my favorite movie scenes. It seems to say, “It’s OK to create the life that speaks to you as an individual. You do not need (nor will you probably ever get) the approval of others to be yourself and to love what you love, so just do it… and let everyone else do it too.”