After our first Thanksgiving holiday away from family, Chris and I have decided to prioritize. We moved to San Antonio for a job--Chris's job--and although both of us always wanted to escape the limitations of our Midwestern hometown (the lack of things to do in the evenings, the irritating familiarity of the flat landscapes) we realized this year just how thankful we are to have both found our way back to family.
It's funny how distance can do this. Even with the easy access of communication through cellular phones and Internet, the physical space between us and our family truly emphasized the importance of our relationships. Just as I spent much of my youth trying to run away from my family, Chris, too, remembers his own rebellion as a child. And now, our distance from them seers. It made us truly thankful this holiday.
We spent our Thanksgiving morning working with the San Antonio Food Bank, to put turkeys on tables for many of Texans who are in need this year. Our dinner was hosted by two friends, whose family we spent the night with, playing games and over-eating in the way only Americans know how. We had a great day, in all, and yet we missed, to no small extent, the very thing our youthful selves had run away from.
Americans are unique this way, putting individualistic and self-revelatory needs in front of familial relationships. This is especially the case for those who pursue higher education. It is almost as though to be valuable to society in this country (unless there is a family business or unlimited money) one must break away in order to fully reach potential. Whereas, in many other countries generations live together under one roof, working toward a collective goal and supporting each other even at the expense of individualistic dreams.
I think that there are benefits and costs to each way of life, but I will say that being away from family is tough now. This means a few things. It means that we're growing up, realizing the value of strong family ties. It means that our sacrifice puts in perspective our goals, and that in order to accommodate both our relationships and our careers, we will have to be somewhat successful. The fact that we couldn't afford to visit our family this year is not uncommon, and yet it is understandable.
I write this post with little focus today, more as a simple list of the things I am grateful for, albeit a few days late: I'm grateful to have a family to miss this holiday season. I'm grateful for our opportunity to pursue our dreams. Finally, I'm grateful for the hope that one day both our individualistic aspirations and our ability to connect with family on these all-important occasions will one day be possible--if only we work hard enough. If only we keep at it. I'm grateful for this change of perspective because new perspective is often necessary to feel such a level of thankfulness.