Monday, December 26, 2011

Being the Crazy Country Cousin at the Family Christmas

I hope my Christian friends have had a Merry Christmas, my Jewish friends are having a wonderful Hannukah, my African-American friends are having a good Kwanzaa...and, lest I forget, Happy Boxing Day!

My family (husband, 2 sons, daughter, dog) and I travelled from Kentucky to Texas to be with his Mother and her husband for the holidays. I needed to rest up a couple of days after our journey because I had to drive the entire 900-odd miles of the trip.

Once Friday hit, preparations began in the kitchen and the rest of the house for the Christmas-day feast. Twenty-three family members were expected. We knew they could all fit comfortably in Grammy's house because she had just thrown a Christmas party for 60-plus people the weekend before. Most of our apartment in Kentucky would fit in her garage.

My in-laws (on my husband's mother's side) are some pretty amazing folks. She is active in several historic societies (think DAR); her husband did two tours in Viet Nam, and lost both legs and an arm there, and came back to earn two PhD degrees, retiring only recently from the DAV. One of her sisters recently purchased a house for herself so she can be separate from her husband when he drinks too much. The other sister will not medicate for her schizophrenia, because she believes the doctors are trying to poison her. Despite this, she has managed to maintain working for the same company her entire adult life. Their children and grand-children have achieved similar worldly success.

And then there is me and my family. We chose to move from Texas (where I was working for the City of Fort Worth) to Kentucky. We chose to homeschool our children. I chose to work outside the scope of my degree (B.S. in finance, magna cum laude) because I realized it was not where my heart was. None of this makes sense to most of my in-laws.

The most fulfilling job I ever had was working with adults who have mental retardation and developmental disabilities. Success there is measured in the smallest of increments, and are things that most of us do without a thought, but these simple lessons can open worlds for people. Unfortunately, I was injured twice in 2010, while intervening when a client was attempting to hurt herself or others. I can no longer lift people the way I used to, and after surgery on my knee, have difficulty negotiating stairs. Most of the time, I don't dwell on what I've lost; but in the last few days, in the face of so much commercial's been a little harder than usual.

How do I move forward? I recommit myself to my core beliefs and philosophies. I review and reconfigure my goals as necessary. Then I give myself a little shove to get myself moving.

My core beliefs and philosophies: faith in God, commitment to family, using my talents and abilities to help people help themselves, nourishing my body and soul in a healthy manner. Your beliefs may look similar or not...and that's ok.

My goals revolve around: increased spiritual study, continuing to homeschool my children through the high school years, using my writer's voice to highlight causes near and dear to me, eating and exercising in a way to lessen my hereditary health risks, and feeding my soul with artistic endeavors. Your goals may look similar or not ... and that's ok.

Getting going? Uh, sorry, this one is pretty much the end, we all make a choice to get moving or stay still.

So what gets you going? Or keeps you going? And why? I'd love to hear your story!


  1. I love that line. "We all make the choice to get moving or stand still." Well said!

    Happy 2012 and happy writing!

  2. And let me wish you a Blessed Solstice, as well.

    I'm sorry the job that you love has led to a less than optimal outcome for your body - but there are wonderful things about doing something that is worthwhile, even if it may not make your rich. Have you seen this clip?

    There's a saying, people measure your corn in their barrel. Don't let your wacky if also wonderful in-laws shake you from your joy and pleasure in your life choices. And welcome to SheWrites!

  3. Hi. Thank you for stopping by my blog today. I'm so glad you did because now I know about your wonderful blog. I admire your spirit. As the mother of a special needs child, I appreciate your respect for people like him - as you probably know, that kind of respect for them isn't common enough in this world. I admire your continued dedication even after your injury.

    Your family sounds facinating and strong. I used to live in Dallas, but it's been a long time.

    The values you expressed are similiar to mine. Like you said, it is fine when others have different values from ourselves, but it is always nice meeting those similiar.

    Happy New Year to you and yours!

  4. Thanks, Anne, and Happy New Year to you too! :O)

  5. Thanks for your comment, Beverly. I went and watched the video. I was laughing at the beginning and cheering at the end. Beautiful!

  6. Moonbeams, you just flat out rock, that's all there is to it. :O)