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There were periods of my life when I've been pretty anxious about going home for Thanksgiving. Not because of the family, the food or the football. No, it was the extended-family conversations that often had me on edge, conversations that seemed to slip into a sort of life status update chat. One had to have at-the-ready a set of polished answers for any number of questions about life, work, relationships, money. (And isn't it funny how many of those questions end in "yet?" Have you found a new job yet? Are you dating anyone yet? Did you find a place of your own yet?) It felt like a scoring session for another year in the game of life.
When I began a relationship with my future wife, I had the privilege of spending a couple of Thanksgiving weekends with her family. Now Marci's parents are some of the kindest and most accepting people in the world, and I now have (or at least believe I have) a really good relationship with them, but at the time, it seemed like I was there for a different sort of scoring session — the one where the parents get to decide how well I was qualified to pursue their daughter. This was all compounded by the fact that Marci was pretty clearly out of my league, and everyone there knew it, with the possible exception of the dog, who enthusiastically accepted me for who I was as long as I kept throwing the tennis ball.
Yes, Thanksgiving can be a blessed, restful time with our loved ones, but there can be some awkward moments as well. How about you? Do you embrace the holiday whole-heartedly or secretly fear parts of the day?
By the way, while on the subject of awkward moments you might be faced with during the holidays, here's a cute little video called "Stuff Christian Singles Hear" by comedian Jon Felts. Ring any bells? Would you add any cliched comments to his list?
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--I've seen that video before, but every time it just gets better!
As far as Thanksgiving (and any holiday, for that matter) with my family goes, it's something I look forward to. My extended family is pretty small on both my mother's and father's sides, and I know everyone very well since we all do things together on a regular basis. I feel very blessed to be able to enjoy holidays with my family!
--I am not seeing any faraway family members this year, but I believe that they would refer me for jobs in my field, because most (if not all) of them know that I am unemployed. I am not sure if they are aware of my lack of sexual orientation, though. I think that I would either have to act like I am seeking a wife or endure "helpful criticism" of my lifestyle choices.
--My extended family has finally decided that while my socially life is abysmal (their POV), at least I'm doing cool stuff with my life (they don't understand grad school), and since I'm reasonably attractive, it'll happen eventually. I'm pretty happy with their new-found perspective.
--* "It" being marriage
--I get the life status update. It wears over time. Especially when it's not just the holidays, but regular conversations that bring up these questions. But, for me at least, and for a few friends of mine, there are worse things than being asked if you're dating someone, or if you have a job yet, or a better job yet. Like active persuasion to do things outside of God's will. Like codependency, manipulation and control. Like guilt and shame. Like people not being there who used to be there. Like loneliness for the wholeness that you used to think your family had. Like memories of events that you don't tell strangers about...or ongoing such events. Or just the indescribable feeling of not being safe to be who God made you to be when you're around them.
I am grateful for my church family, who was a real and safe family to me yesterday.
And to be honest, I'm disappointed that this post didn't address the deeper fears that many people have about "going home." This is not a criticism. There's nothing wrong with light topics. Rather, I'm just saying what I was looking for when I clicked on the title.
I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm not saying that it's silly to be upset about questions about singleness or jobs. I've been there, and those are real things too. I'm just looking for meat, for a reminder of the deep hope in Jesus that heals and transforms these things in our lives. Again and again. And I'll need that...need HIM...as I consider "going home" to visit today.
--p.s. @ARay: that's awesome. I mean it. And I love your line: "at least I'm doing cool stuff with my life (they don't understand grad school)"
--Morey Sol, I am truly sorry for your situation. That kind of pain far trumps familial annoyance or misunderstanding. I am very, very glad you have a close-knit church family to call home!
--I'm Canadian, so I was off the hook for going home this week. However, I am definitely already starting to dread going home for Christmas. I have had a really tough couple of years and my family members seem incapable of engaging with my experiences, how I have changed, and what choices I am making now. I don't know how to gracefully answer the barbed questions that are intended to provoke conflict or disapproval (i.e. "How is school?" when my parents disagree with the theological stance of my grad school). I am fearful of the feelings of rejection that will come when I dare to share a painful and personal part of my life and it gets ignored or the subject is quickly changed.
Morey Sol, I don't know what your situation is, but I hope that you saw some evidence of God at work as you courageously chose to keep living with your family members this Thanksgiving. It's so hard to see destructive patterns happening over and over with those who are close to you.
--Normally I'm hoping to dodge the life update questions, but this year I actually went into Thanksgiving with a girlfriend. Did anybody ask me if I was dating someone? Nope.
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