How do you project that spot on the calendar when all of a sudden it's not somebody else's home you're journeying to for the holidays, but it's your home everybody else is coming to?
It's not like my daughter has left us and comes home for the holidays (she's not quite 4 years old yet), but my house has turned out to be the gathering point for several disparate branches of loosely fragmented particles of a family brought together by circumstance. Most of the connections between us are frail at best, with some notable exceptions, and we get together almost exclusively on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I've tried to come to terms with this whole "getting together for the holidays" thing, and I believe I understand the phenomenon a little better now.
The truth is, days off from work are rare for me. It's hard to find any free time to do things around the house. On top of that, there are usually great games scheduled on those days, so dealing with extended family is a bit of a sacrifice. I'd rather use the time to change out the bathroom faucet or work on the yard, or just hang out in my boxers watching sports and drinking beer.
However, the obligatory ritual of sitting around a dead bird and exchanging pleasantries is a necessary device by which we rid ourselves of the need to make any other contact with our loved ones throughout the rest of the year. It allows us to stay in touch with those we innately care for, catch up on recent occurrences and share yet another experience that we can file away in our collective memory bank.
It's good to see everybody. After cleaning the house all week, spending a small fortune at the grocery store, and watching my wife (admittedly, I'm not much help in this area) slave away in the kitchen for the better part of two days, there is a warm feeling left at the end of the day when we find ourselves cleaning the house yet again. It's good to see everybody, but it's also good to see them go.
We'll meet up again for Christmas.