I spent some time over this holiday season with my significant other’s family. This is new for us, the first time I’ve met extended family, and I’ll admit it was a bit scary. I don’t know how to “do” my own family, either one of them, so how was I supposed to figure out how to be with anyone else’s family?
I worried needlessly. Other families have the luxury of taking their relationships for granted, I sometimes think. I know, I can never know someone else’s family from the inside. I’m well aware of that. But I’m also, I admit, a bit jealous of what seems like an uncomplicated family that spends time together because they like one another, at least in small doses.
This is actually about more than adoption. The family I grew up in changed drastically as I made my transition to adulthood. In the 10 years from starting college to buying my first house, I lost my godfather (uncle), father, grandfather, and grandmother. We went from an immediate family of 6 to 3. My mother sold the house we’d grown up in and moved, twice, once across the country. We lost a lot of our family traditions surrounding the holidays and there really wasn’t enough left to adjust. We form a triangle on a map, and I am 1200 miles from either of the other points, with nearly 900 miles between them.
Holiday travel is hard, so proximity makes tradition easier. Proximity does not a family make, no, but it does make it easier to see and maintain relationships, I think.