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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Warning! Controversial Post - Family

At times, I am a slow learner, cruising through life thinking everyone is happy and everything turns up roses.  While I may have my own disagreements with people here and there, I sometimes forget that others have those same types of interactions with others that don't include or involve me.  This can especially apply to family.

Family matters take these "disagreements" up a notch.  While I can't imagine that my great aunt on my dad's side would have a conflict with my grandmother, her very own sister, it could have existed.  Heck, it could have divided the family fairly easily and quickly because of the words people say, their actions, and the assumptions they make.  Even a minor "slight" can send some families running in the opposite direction to never meet again, except at a funeral.  Mind you, I am pulling from about a dozen different situations on either side of my family tree - Father or Mother, Irish or German (you can take your pick). 

In completing my family tree research, I have often been asked by others why the families went their separate ways.  Why did the Flanagan's stop getting together?  What was the rift between those Hickey's?  Why did my grandfather not fully realize who his own cousins were on his Maxwell side of the family in the same town (Napa), at the same time?

Well, my answer is complicated.  To my dismay, the simplified version is that it is just too hard.  It's too hard, for example, to drive from Sacramento to the Bay Area.  There's so much traffic on the freeway.  There's no good date and time where everyone can make it.  It takes so much planning.  Then, there is the food and where to actually accommodate each and everyone.  Oh, and the final nail, we don't necessarily have an ongoing relationship with those family members. 

My own rosy philosophy is that if you want something, you can make it happen.  I guess my slow learning curve on this is the daunting resistance of it all.  I am open but find that my immediate family members, sans my husband, are not.  "Oh sweetie, we are just too busy, busy, busy."

I must admit to the frustration.  Maybe my own ulterior motive to get together is to find out more about my ancestors.  That would actually mean that I'd like to know more about my family.  Can you blame me?  While I do know a lot, I love hearing about the past including anecdotal stories.  I like to meet and see who I am related to.  I enjoy a connection to those that I am biologically related to even if we don't see each other very often or maintain a full true relationship.  There is value in knowing where you came from and who you are related to even if you don't have much in common.  Some of us might have more in common than you think.

So, without letting any cats out of the bag on why families went their separate ways, I'd like to express myself here.  My own family basically finds inconvenience in getting together.  It's stressful to plan a flawless visit.  That is the goal, after all, to make it flawless, right?  

I am clearly related to several perfectionists who want an event to be pulled off and perceived as flawless.  As with any event, you want the location to be nice and at its best.  You want delicious food to impress and heaven forbid, you would ever run out of food or drink during the event.  Additionally, convenience is paramount.  You don't want people to hit standstill traffic on Interstate 80 through Northern California.  Okay, that last one is completely beyond anyone's control.

During my life experience with food and drink, I have had the most elaborate, exquisite, exotic, mouthwatering, fancy, expensive food and then there is pizza.  Ironically, pizza and salad can be the most pleasing meal ever.  Accompanied by beer or wine, the crowd overall is generally happy.  Why can't a family reunion have pizza and salad.  It's quick and easy.

I have to add another point here.  I do understand where others are coming from.  Until I was married, I did not quite understand how people could choose to spend the holidays away from their family and basically not really see them any longer.  Well, there's always those people who you are related to by marriage that make you turn and go the other way.  Then, there is the inconvenience of hosting and planning an event.  Even still, it does not have to be an absolute situation.  You can get together with family even if you don't have a true relationship with them but are related to them.  Sometimes the benefit is not to yourself but to your spouse or your own children.

Summing up this post is challenging.  I would love to see all of my relatives from my various lines.  I have a great desire to go back East to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.   My husband and I would like to visit all of our family members on both sides sans the relative that unfriended me on Facebook.  Okay, that's just petty and silly, I know.  That's how it starts though.

Our family in Ireland is also on our list.  Cost and time are our big hurdles right now and that is just being honest.

While others are focusing on the inconvenience of a family reunion, at least I've planted a seed.  The thought of trying to plan a reunion in the coming year is daunting even for me.  I can offer up my home.  It's not anything wonderful but we have had 40 people here all at once with plenty of seating including the outside patio.  We did not run out food either.  And.....The roses were blooming in the garden at time.

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