Let’s play a game….one of the following two things are true:
1.) I’ve had about 3 glasses of wine at our family Thanksgiving gathering, and I seem to love my family more than usual.
2.) Jude Law has proposed marriage, I am moving to England, and our babies will be miraculous feats of beauty.
Obviously, I don’t drink, so I will be sending out “Save the Dates” for my matrimonial union with Mr. Law….
In all seriousness, I am enjoying my family more than usual this year, and yes…I have had about 3 glasses of wine. Determining whether the two are connected will be left up to the Gods to decide. But, the important thing is…I am appreciating my family more and more this year.
This, in itself, is a hard feat to accomplish. My family consists of me, my parents (who love me unconditionally…I don’t know who paid them off), my aunt and uncle, their children, and their children, my second cousins. The overwhelmingly glaring truth about my involvement and proper place in my family hinges on one fact: I am the only one in the 15-38 age bracket. Let me be more specific: I am the only one in the 22-30 age bracket…meaning, I am the only one without a spouse, children, and stretch marks.
It has been somewhat difficult for me to find my place within my family for the past few years. When I was growing up, I was the youngest grandchild…the baby of the family…I relished an era of time that allowed me to do/say anything that would be looked upon with giddiness and awe. That was, until , a new generation of great-grandchildren usurped my status and became the new darlings of the bunch. They pushed me off my pedestal, and left me to fend for myself…poor, lost, collegiate student that I was. I found myself struggling to define my familial identity as a grandchild who was becoming an adult, and as an adult that wasn’t quite ready to claim that title.
I spent most of my Thanksgivings between the ages of 18-24 off in a corner, removed from most of the family banter….content to devote myself to the silent welcoming glow of my Blackberry and the gentle hum of NFL television broadcasting. I had nothing to contribute: my parents and aunts/uncles discussed the affairs of my grandparents, who sat quietly and contentedly on a sofa in the far corner. My cousins, all with families and children of their own, discussed parenting and mortgages, topics unfamiliar to my sphere of existance. And me? I sat there, wondering where my life would lead me, when I’d ever find a boyfriend, and what would be happening on the next episode of LOST.
I just felt out of the loop. How do you contribute to dinner table conversation when you’re unfamiliar with the territory? How do you contribute when your field of experience is completely different from anyone else in your family? These are questions I’ve had to cope with over the past few holidays, and I’ve unsuccessfully come up with no answers.
Yet, somehow….this year, it all changed. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve finally started to become more comfortable in my own skin…or if my 2nd cousins are now more interested in video games than blowing bubbles of spit with their mouths…or if I have more confidence to crack a dirty joke in front of my aunts and uncles…regardless, my status in my family changed this year.
I found I was able to sit down and really talk to my cousin about the art of education and the trials I’ve had to endure as a student teacher. I debated the pros and cons of the Nintendo Wii vs. the PS3 with my 10-year-old cousin (who really wants “Call of Duty” for X-Mas). I even was able to discuss “LOST” theories with my male cousin who really has never carried on a 5 minute conversation with me in my entire life. I contributed a crap-load of desserts to the family meal, and I only relegated myself to my laptop once during the entire (to write this post, of course).
It’s a huge step for me…to be able to connect with the family, on all age levels. It means that I care enough to make an effort to do so…something that has been absent the past few Thanksgivings. The conversation was good, the company was great, and I think I’ve finally found my niche in my family: the Straddler of All Age Brackets. I can balance a discussion on how to make hummus with my aunt with the act of watching “Beauty and the Beast” with my younger cousins (which is what I’m doing now…they asked me if this movie was originally released in black and white…”back in the day”…oi vey). I will never know why I’m suddenly more comfortable in my own skin around my own family, but I am….that’s the important thing.
So…here I am…Straddler of All Age Brackets…not yet married and no longer a child…still waiting for a family of my own, yet content to exist where I am at this point in my life. And you know what? I’m a-okay with that title for now.