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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Nothing Like A Family Holiday to Make You Wonder If You're Life's A Failure

Sunday, November 27, 2005

If one will pardon the tongue-in-cheek title, please do. If not, sorry; blog entries have to have titles. It's just the way it is.

Meredith and I drove 8 and a half hours on Wednesday night in order to arrive in Lake Bluff, Illinois, at her brother's house. We spent the Thanksgiving holiday as two people in a house of 13, six of whom were children under seven (one being about eight weeks). It was delirious. It was maddening. It was bliss.

When Meredith and I hang out with her family, we are the odd one's out. For we, unlike her siblings who have produced seven children between them, have produced no children and are quite intentional about keeping things that way for some time. My brother-in-law is a PhD-wielding father of four with a mortgage and two cars. He spends his time playing with his kids and fixing up his house (which this weekend involved standing in the nighttime Chicago snow as a men in coveralls took a backhoe to his front yard . . . long story). My sister-in-law is a mother of three who absolutely shines at family gatherings; she runs the kids' meal times, coordinates games between them, and orchestrates the dizzying production that is bedtime.

In the midst of this, there is me and Meredith, Uncle Rocky and Ta-Ta Birf. We play with the kids--for awhile. I make coffee. But mostly we sit around and wait for something meaningful to happen. And, for one, I start to wonder about my place in the whole arrangement. In terms of achievement and experience, I still feel like the junior-member of the family (this is true of my own family as well). But I have learned enough about myself to know that another degree or a brood of children wouldn't make that feeling go away. I'm probably bound to have it my whole life.

Then my brother calls me. On Thanksgiving. From Colorado. He calls me to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving and to tell me that he's spending the day with his stepson at their church, helping to serve a Thanksgiving dinner to homeless people. He's not with his wife, and he's not with his family. These are his choices, but still the situation makes me feel useless, not only amongst the family swirling around me in Chicago, but also to my family miles and miles away in Colorado.

Yeah, that feeling may not be going away any time soon either.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:24 PM

6 Comments:

Did I ever mention that I give you MAJOR credit for keeping an online blog? I love to read it, you should be getting this published in the local paper/magazine. Are you?

I've found that family get togethers, like you so aptly stated, always get me pondering my place in the whole hierarchy of family, friends, community groups, life...and then after a minute I remember that we are so overdependent on grace from others, whereas God's grace can make us feel just right with who we are, where we are, and what we're doing. I've heard it said that what we do becomes a habit, and habits become who we are (it was more eloquent than that, but you get the gist) That feeling of how you fit in your family compared to everyone else can be fleeting if you keep doing things to prove to yourself and God who you are.

You rock!! You dont give yourself enough credit.

Your friend:)

You made a huge wave of difference at our church
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 11:05 PM  
SOrry that last sentence was meant to be a post script...its late...i thought i had deleted it, realizing id save that thought for another time. Peace!
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 11:10 PM  
Ahh, what lovely people read this blog. I'm dying to know, though, where this person is writing from. Thank you for your kind words, Mr./Mrs. Anonymous; I'm glad you like the blog.
commented by Blogger Rocky, 6:07 AM  
First things first, I want you to know my security word for this comment is "hghejyum" which is archaic Belgiumese for "avifauna".

Second things next, here's what I wonder about: does your family (in-laws included) truly sit in judgment or do they indeed accept you as you are? I would assume that the pressures and inadequacies a person may feel relative to family are actually self-imposed. This assumption though is based on the idea that these people are family, they have unconditional love in its purest form for you. To them you have so much to offer no matter what or who you are and there is never any ranking or judging relative to other members, just as God does not rank or judge his children. At least that's how I see it. My friend, I have that unconditional love for you, you're nothing but a superstar in my eyes (Kelly Clarkson or not) that deserves mad props on a daily basis.
commented by Blogger Ryno, 1:05 PM  
Oh it's all self-imposed. It's not I think the family is sitting around conversing about when I'm going to get my act together; it's that I'm aware of the different paths that my generational colleagues in the family have taken, and I find myself scrutinizing the path I've taken and finding it wanting. But, like I said, I'd be doing that if our places were reversed.

That Ryno thinks I deserve mad props makes all the difference in the world, tioyb!! (that's my security word)
commented by Blogger Rocky, 3:23 PM  
As a 34 year-old single guy, and the last sibling to get married by a longshot, I feel your angst. I don't think I can get through a visit with my parents wothout the inevitable "who are you dating?" question.

But as "anonymous" said (I know who anonymous is by the way...good friend/former girlfriend of mine ;))...I trust that God has an idea of what I'm doing even if I sometimes don't.

As for you, you know I'm a huge fan of yours. Much love, brother.

"i'm just trying to find a decent melody, a song that I can sing in my own company"--"Stuck in a Moment" U2
commented by Anonymous E Dub, 5:58 AM  

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