The holidays always do it to me. Every year, around this time, I start thinking about the journey; where I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. It’s not a wistful or regretful thing, really; it’s more of a practical stock-taking, a sort of existential orientation on the map of my life.
It occurs to me, every once in a while (and often to my surprise), that I am a grown-up. I occasionally realize, often with a bit of a start, that I’m a responsible adult (well… most of the time). I’m someone’s wife. I’m someone’s mommy, for crying out loud! I’m a teacher and a homeowner and a taxpayer. I have a mortgage and a life insurance policy and bank accounts and… Yikes!
I was thinking about this today as I considered the ways in which we mark the major holidays. As always, we defer Thanksgiving to the elder women of the Chili family; the feast is taken at either Mother Chili’s or Auntie Lynn’s. (It was only recently that my proverbial foot went down about Christmas, which is now celebrated at our house.) I always play a supporting (and often deferential) role in these festivities; my place in the hierarchy has never been in question.
The thing is (I say, as I look across the room to my very old kitty, the likely longevity of whom I’m starting to reconsider as she’s decided recently to stop eating), our elders aren’t going to be with us forever. At some point, our Thanksgiving (and our Easter) traditions are going to change, if only by the virtue of who’s still here. Even though I don’t think about it often (remember, this is a holiday thing) – and I don’t brood over it – I realize how much my paradigm has changed since my mother died; I am sometimes keenly aware of feeling the responsibility that not having a mother leaves me.
How odd it will be to not have anyone “above” us.