Category Archives: kith and kin
At the risk of sounding supremely grinchy, I’m not a huge fan of the daily thankfulness posts that circulate on Facebook and elsewhere during the month of November. I’m pretty sure I participated a couple of years ago and I *do* get the point, I just like the idea of implementing that kind of thankfulness throughout the year, not just in November. And I think it’s tempting to really go all out every day in November and then feel “done” for the other 11 months.
It’s a little bit like my parenting philosophy, or even my friendship philosophy. I don’t like overdoing it on holidays or other special events as a way of making up for lackluster participation throughout the rest of the days. Ideally, I think we should be thankful on a regular basis, and we should be eagerly and actively involved in parenting, in partnership (if applicable) and in friendship and other important relationships all of the time, not just on birthdays and anniversaries, Thanksgiving and Christmas/Chanukah/Yule/Whatever December holiday(s) you choose to mark.
I certainly fall short of that on a regular basis, but it is what I strive for.
I know for myself, I would rather have my partner kiss me sincerely and show that he cares about what I have to say whenever we are together than to neglect me for other interests until it’s a holiday or some other jewelry-buying occasion and then make a big deal of it. Luckily, I have someone in my life now who does both (the everyday stuff and the holiday stuff) but if I had to choose, I’d take the everyday good stuff over the holiday make good every time.
Similarly, I know it means more to my kids to have me there helping with homework, giving hugs and offering encouragement every day in their lives than if I were less available but bought them really expensive gifts to make up for it.
I do think that marking holidays and having traditions is a worthwhile part of family life (and human life!) so I don’t mean to sound down on holidays. It’s just that I think a little bit goes a long way. And I really don’t think there should be Christmas music and decorating going on the day after Halloween. It’s more special if those things happen after Thanksgiving (thank you, Nordstrom).
And I think that thankfulness is a very healthy practice. We all have so many things for which to be thankful. I just prefer to make that an everyday practice instead of a November-only practice.
Sometimes I have morbid thoughts. Today, I asked my daughter to take a picture of me blowing out the candles on my birthday cake (tomorrow is my actual birthday, today was just the cake and some presents) because I thought “What if this is my last healthy birthday? What if next year I am sick and going through chemo again?”
Even though I told myself that I am not going to let the fear of dying ruin my life, sometimes negative thoughts like that occur to me. Actually I am not sure how negative it was. It was practical in a way. I am the family photographer so I am more likely to be behind the camera and not in the pictures. But recently I have been trying to make sure more pictures of me exist, for my daughter’s sake. I want her to have pictures to remember me by, just in case. And, if I live to be 100, I still want to have pictures of these days.
When I thought about not knowing where I will be next year it opened my eyes, my heart, and my brain to where I was right then and I smiled and felt grateful to be with my family, who were smiling, singing and directing joy and love to me. I closed my eyes and blew out the candles and echoed the sentiment “and many more!”
I’ve been thinking a lot about intimacy this week. No, not just *that* kind.
What is true emotional intimacy? How do we establish it? How do we nurture it? How much of it do we need in our daily lives in order to feel connected to other people and not just like an island adrift? How do we decide who our intimates should be? How does intimacy change naturally over the lifetime of a relationship (whether it’s with a friend, family member or romantic partner)? And how do we know what needs to be done in order to reestablish it if it fades or whether we even should? And if it dies in an important relationship…how should we grieve and then move on?