Home for the Holidays

AutoGrat is back once again, minus a coblogger and no longer restaurant industry oriented. I’ve decided that it’s time for me to use this space exclusively for my own internal ramblings. Or external, depending on your perspective. PERSPECTIVE. That’s going to be the key word for this third attempt at maintaining a blog.

That being said, I’m going to skip the part where I attempt to outline my ideas going forward with this writing endeavor… I really don’t know what’s happening, I just know that I need to write. So here we are.

I just returned from visiting my family in Kansas City for Thanksgiving. My time there always offers me an alternate perspective (keywords!) on my life… It’s crazy how different your life can seem when talked about with people outside of your immediate bubble of existence. I didn’t have any epiphanies or stumble upon new understandings of self. I did, however, have some time to reflect on my familial situation and how it differs from those I surround myself with.

Most families are kind of organized into little groups based on their place on the family tree – the adult table consists of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. The kids table is usually made up of cousins and siblings in the same age group, lumped together to give the adults some time to catch up and maybe have too  much wine. Everyone at the kids table grow up together until they’re old enough to branch out into their own respective adult tables… Typical holiday formula.

Kansas City is home to the paternal side of my family. Our Thanksgiving dinner is hosted at my aunt and her husband’s home, and our usual guest list includes their children, my father and his wife and their kids, my grandmother and great-grandmother. Because I was born when my father was just exiting high school, there weren’t any cousins or siblings being added to the picture. My kid table was just me, trying to fit in with the grown-ups. Twenty-some years later, my dad and aunt have started the more traditional family experience, we’ve included some married in relatives, and the kid table is now fully seated.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my too much wine. On the flip side, I watch the kids play and bond and get older together every year and I wonder what that must be like. I hear anecdotes from peers about their own family gatherings, sneaking schnapps and sharing secrets with their distant same-aged relatives, and I get a little jealous. My cousins and siblings will never have those memories of me – I’ll always be more akin to the auncle that didn’t tell mom and dad about the schnapps I caught them with.

At the adult table, I recount the last year of my life and I talk politics and theology and economics and clean up dishes and cut pie for the kids. All the while, I can’t fully divulge my recent experiences because, frankly, they’re too old at this point to relate. Talking about partying with my friends and complaining about moving home aren’t appropriate accolades for those at higher stages in life. So, I keep all of that below the surface and I talk instead about my job and try to sound like a productive, self-sufficient, respectable member of society.

It’s all normal for me, and it isn’t until one of the cousins needs me to remind them that I’m technically on their part of the family tree that I even notice the abnormality of the whole thing. At the end of the day, though, I can’t help but appreciate the outlook I have on the family. I’ve seen the adults mature and wisen and find the lives they’ve wanted to lead and I’ve grown alongside them being in the loop, a confidante. I don’t experience the whispers or the subject changes upon entering a room because I’m usually the one being whispered to. In the same stride, I get to be the kids’ favorite adult, still young enough that I can relate to their experiences and old enough that I get to take care of them.

Pros and cons aside, experiencing Thanksgiving the way I have has given me the opportunity to see the broad spectrum of life in all of it’s stages, and in turn I’ve been able to realize fairly early on just how I want to grow into myself. If there’s anything I’m grateful for, it’s that. It leaves me curious though – what are the other experiences out there? What alternate perspectives would you all like to share? Whether you’ve grown with your cousins, walked in similar shoes, or never had a Thanksgiving experience at all, I would love to be enriched by your holiday stories. Comment, message, whatever is comfortable for you to expand my view.


Thanks for taking the time,