180. Missing Family Life

I have to admit that some holidays make me miss family life. During most of the year, I’m glad to be free and alone, welcoming visitors when they show up, but knowing that they’re only visitors, and I’ll soon be free again to do whatever I feel like doing, not having to answer to anybody. Though lonely holidays can be a price I must pay for that freedom, for me, it’s worth it.
But when a nearby family invites me to spend a holiday with them, I don’t say no. At holiday time, I’ll take whatever family feeling I can get. When a family works well, home is a great place to be, even if it isn’t your own home. The excited voices of children are a treasure, even if they aren’t your own children (or grandchildren). It’s nice to have other adults around to enjoy the children, too, and to enjoy each other.
Part of the reason there’s no place like home for the holidays is that it’s sort of understood, in most families, that holidays are not times to bring up problems. It’s when you’re supposed to remind people how much you care about them. As long as there’s even a chance that such a message is true, and will be believed, holidays lend themselves to the suspension of any disbelief.
I remember the excitement my children felt as holidays approached. I like to think the excitement was mostly about the good times we’d spend together – the warmth, and the feeling that we’d all be together. But I know the good food and the presents didn’t hurt. And as long as I’m confessing things, let me confess that I sometimes got some great presents, and ate some great food.
Most of my articles give you some suggestions to help you think things out. I didn’t start this article with that goal in mind. But I realize, now, that there are some suggestions hiding in this article: before you start a family, do your best to make sure you’ll be able to keep it. And before you end one, make sure you’re ready for the time you’ll spend without it.
As holidays approach, I let myself feel some sadness about not being part of a cozy nuclear family, all under one roof. I make sure I have a place to go – that I can be part of some other family’s festivities. I’m not sitting around too often while so much of the rest of the world is celebrating. But I do miss being with my own family during the holidays.

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