Whenever I go home to visit my family these days, I try to bake for them. I like to bake; my mother doesn't bake much anymore and my parents enjoy eating my creations. And who else will so willingly and happily eat my culinary experiments? So, I bake.
As I sit writing this, I listen to my father poke fun of my mother because she accidentally gifted him women's perfume instead of men's cologne for Christmas. And I'm reminded that THIS is why I enjoy coming home for the holidays. To sit around and watch too many movies and bits of all the various TV series that everyone received for Christmas - Battlestar Gallactica Season 3, The Original Twilight Zone Season 1, 30 Rock Season 1 have all been on tap this week. To catch up on all the random goings on that I've missed over the phone. To eat too much and hang out until my father stops flipping channels and settles on an hour-long look at the mating of whichever animal or the history of something. To comment on how much bigger the cat seems to have gotten and the latest animal sightings in the backyard. It's all very ordinary, but it means a lot to me that I get to be here for this.
Having had a dysfunctional childhood - like so many other people - these very typical scenes were always what I wanted as a kid. I guess I drank the kool-aid that the Hallmark commercial offered up. The thing not at all evident though in those sentimental 30-second attempts to sell something is how long it takes to get to that happy homecoming scene on the doorstep with the snow falling. It takes time to have shared history, because of course history takes time to make.
We all have family. In a perfect world, families would be the easiest birthright to claim and be a part of. In the real world, family relationships are among the most difficult courses to take in the ongoing classroom that we live in as humans.
As the year rolls to a close, I want to say that I'm grateful for everyone I get to call family.