Looking Ahead

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.

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8 Comments

Filed under celebration, concerns, family matters, holiday, Home and Family, Little Bits of Nothingness, messages from the Universe, my oh-so-exciting life, on death and dying, Parenting, ruminating, this is NOT a drill

8 responses to “Looking Ahead

  1. I think about that all the time. It was weird enough when the previous tier departed. This one can’t help but be a thousand times more intense.

  2. Ohhhh my, you have totally encapsulated the thing I hate the most about my mom being gone! I don’t want to be int he first tier, the starting lineup… so much more responsibility and gravity with those roles!

  3. jrh

    “One generation’s length away
    From fighting life out on my own”
    – John Mayer

  4. Kizz, I know this is something you think about a lot. I often wonder whether all of my musings would be concentrated if I didn’t have Auntie; I think about your only-child-ness and imagine that it must feel that much more for you…

    Mamie, the thing is though, that the practical effects are entirely negligible (at least, for me). Sure, I don’t have my mother to go to for advice and help, but that doesn’t mean that I’m entirely adrift; I have lots of people who love me and are willing to help me in those ways, even if many of them aren’t the older, wiser mother figure (in fact, most of us are holding each other up as we go). Which brings me to….

    JRH, I’m in mind of “balance is no harder / it’s just that you’ve got farther / now you’ve just got farther to fall.” – David Wilcox. It’s really not harder, it just FEELS like there’s way more at stake.

  5. That’s weird, because this time of year all I think of it looking forward to new and cool stuff. Around this time of year is Xmas, which is the annual celebration of profit and acquisition. This year, I’m trying to decide whether I want stuff for me, or stuff for us. Do I want guitar stuff for me, or furniture for us?

    Deeper thoughts? Forget it. :)

  6. Rowan

    Thanks for putting it in words. I’ve looked at it like that; moving along the track and now I’m the oldest in the family. Nobody above me anymore. Hmmm…but I don’t feel like the oldest and I STILL don’t know what I want to be when I grow up! I love teaching but what else could I be? sigh
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  7. It is something to think of, no older generation between me and the grave.

    But I don’t think about it much.

  8. I read somewhere that part of the reason people get depressed during the holidays might come from contemplating the “empty chairs” at the table, the folks who are no longer with us. We get nostalgic for the Thanksgivings and Christmases when we were children and all of our family members were present and there were no empty chairs. But, as the article went on to state, this is just an illusion since, for the older members of the family, there was most likely at least one empty chair there for some of them—a grandmother or grandfather, a parent or sibling. We were just too young to realize it.

    I know I get nostalgic about those Christmases too, but then I think about all the people who weren’t in my life yet: my husband, my kids and grandkids. I remember how even at that young age I felt a certain longing during the holidays which I now recognize as a kind of anticipation for those people who would eventually be with me. Weird, huh?

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