I went back to visit family in Wisconsin this past weekend, and it was the best visit I’ve had in a long time. In retrospect it is quite clear why.
I left my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin now nearly thirteen years ago, first to Madison for college, then to St. Louis for grad school, and most recently to Denver for the next chapter of the created life (ah, love!). As my distance from home has grown, so too has the likelihood that any given trip back was for the purpose of enjoying a holiday with family.
But this time the reason was different: it was my niece’s First Communion. Her mom (my sister) Nancy made a great go of having us 6 other siblings feel all of invited, welcomed, and wanted for the occasion. It turns out there’s something surprisingly powerful and compelling about the email/phone call/snail mail card trifecta–good one, Nancy!
So on Saturday we converged, I from Denver, Julie from Atlanta, Susie from Chicago, and Kevin, Mary and Mike from their nooks about the greater Milwaukee area. The rare occasion of seven of us in the same room. We’re a great group of folks in general, but when you strip out the hectic travel, the usual to-dos, and the low-to-moderate drama of who’s staying where which characteristically plague holiday gatherings, what remains is a fantastic, lively and engaged group of adults with way more to say than apologies of how they have to go soon to be with the in-laws.
The whole experience has me thinking the counter-intuitive notion that the holidays are a terrible time to be with family: there’s just too much going on. Better to have it be some other day: that’s when you really get to enjoy quality time. I call it the anti-holiday. Nancy I think stumbled upon something great to get us all together on a calendar day that has no presence on Hallmark’s revenue radar. I think it would be great for my family to have our own moving target of a holiday that could change from year to year, such that this one doesn’t just go down as a fluke.
Our own, dynamic Festivus. We can even skip the Airing of Grievances.