Thursday, December 29, 2005

More holiday thoughts...

One of the nice things about a holiday visit home is, of course, that while I am here, I don't have to spend much, if any money. And now my visit has been unexpectedly extended by my getting the flu, which REALLY means not spending money. Hmm, is 24 hours worth of utter misery worth it? Let's just say I can think of better ways to keep myself from going shopping.

Another thought brought to mind this holiday season: can you place a monetary value on family and tradition?
This year is the first that my family hasn't gathered in my grandmother's house. Instead, we all squeezed into my aunt's much smaller place, just for dinner on Xmas. In the past, most of us would stay at my grandmother's house, which was a lot larger-- not huge, but somehow just laid out better for a family gathering, with a large living room and dining room. We'd order about a dozen pizzas on Xmas eve, arrange presents under the tree, sing some carols, and eat Xmas cookies. On Xmas day, even more people would show up and we'd open gifts and have a big turkey dinner for 30+ people. Since we didn't have enough seats for everyone, dinner would be served in two shifts, with the groups taking turns serving, washing dishes, and eating. Sometimes some of us would stick around for a day or two after xmas, playing board games and charades, listening to music played by the little cousins who were taking violin lessons, eating leftover pizza and turkey sandwiches, and just enjoying each other's company. It was kind of a glorious chaos, and something I looked forward to all year... and it was what we did every year, without fail. But after my grandmother died last year, I knew things would change.
This year, I had a quiet Xmas eve with just my parents, whose relations are tense at best. Then Xmas dinner at my aunt's, which involved everyone sitting at 5 card tables in 3 separate rooms. Afterwards, everyone went their separate ways. I spent some time with my sister, brother-in-law, and their kids, which is a wonderful new part of the holiday tradition, but I still felt a little sad. I couldn't help wishing that we still had my grandmother's house so the family could spend more time together. There was no mortgage on the house, and I wondered how much it would cost if we all chipped in to maintain it and pay the taxes. My sister and her husband even thought about buying it, but they couldn't afford it. And no one else wanted to live there enough to buy everyone else out: my father and his sisters wanted their share of the $500,000 they sold the place for, and who can blame them. The house was starting to fall apart, and I suppose it would have been crazy to try to hang onto it just for family gatherings.
For next year, there is some talk of renting a bigger house that we can all stay in for Xmas, and I hope it works out. That is my idea of something that's worth the money.

1 comment:

Nina Smith said...

"To many people holidays are not voyages of discovery, but a ritual of reassurance." – Philip Andrew Adams

But even traditions change over the years. That was a thoughtful post, Madame X.