July 4, 2010

on the holiday emotions...

Holidays have always been exceptionally difficult for me - since moving to California, I mean. It's been six years and you'd think that after a while the homesickness would hardly be around anymore. But it is. And, if anything, it gets worse as the years go by. I've always been someone wrapped up in the comforts of the past, and I wonder why that is. I wonder why I can't appreciate today for what it holds and embrace the change that come with life passing by.

It is always more difficult for me around holidays. Even today - all I want to do is find some way to magically be eleven again, helping my mom shape hamburger into patties for my dad to barbecue, begging her to let my sisters and I have those packets filled with tiny white pellets that would snap when you threw them on the sidewalk. I want to sit in our front yard while my dad lights the fireworks and my mom stands near the hose, anxious that we will inadvertently catch the eight acres of forest around us on fire. I want permission to feel like a little girl again, completely captivated by sparklers and fireworks in the shapes of turtles and ships.

I guess it's the comfort of the familiar that I miss. It's tough at this point in life - when Jay and I don't have the same days off, and holidays are really up in the air. We haven't even had enough time to create our own traditions yet, which is something everyone seemed to tell me would happen after getting married. It's something I'd really counted on and has kind of let me down. Every year is different, based on work schedules and whether or not he has any time off. It kind of wears me out emotionally, because although I try to convince myself that I'm an adult and that it's okay to not have things the way they "should be" in my mind, I can't help but hope for things to be just right. At least a little bit.

My husband doesn't seem to have the same emotions tied up in these things. It's difficult for me, because all I need is for someone to just understand me. I feel like most of the time he feels like I'm accusing him of our life together being awful, but that's not it. It's just that I miss certain things. Sometimes I need a little bit of time to mourn them. And I need an opportunity to create new moments to help fill my heart with the empty spaces that are left.

I always wonder if things will ever get easier. Living so far away from my family and such. Sometimes I tell myself, Just deal with it. This is how it's meant to be. Don't waste your time wishing for something else. You need to realize that you may end up staying in Southern California forever. But then, that thought makes me horribly sad for some reason. I can't imagine always being this far away from my parents, sisters, nephew, in-laws.

It makes me wonder how this is so easy for Jay. I swear, he could move to Minsk for the next ten years and hardly shrug his shoulders over it. I know he misses his family, but he seems perfectly content with the couple visits a year we are usually able to manage. For me, the visits are fine - but they only remind me how much I miss everyone, and how long it is going to be before I see them again. Is this just a girl thing? Could that be it?

I've always been the girl who thought she'd live down the street from her family at some point in life. Which begs the question, "Then why did you move two states away, crazypants?" The answer is obvious: To meet Jay. To discover a million tiny things about myself that I would have never discovered if I'd stayed. To be brave, to learn, to dream.

But now? All I want is to live close enough to run down the street to hug my sister and light sparklers with my nephew. And the fact that it isn't possible makes my heart ache today.

49 comments :

  1. My husband also doesn't get as emotionally tied up in things like these. I do thought. I am always extremely nostalgic on holidays even thought I live fairly close to my family. I hope you can enjoy the day and have a great 4th of july.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What an absolutely beautiful and brilliant post. Again, I am not married and I am only 20, but I can completely understand this. My family has never really had traditions for holidays, except Christmas and Thanksgiving, which where going to my grandparents house for a big family dinner. I love the 4th of July, the sparklers, big fireworks and barbecue. BUT, we don't do that. Its the smaller holidays that make me CRAVE traditions. I am so excited to start my own traditions once I get married, and if that didn't happen or it took a while to do, I would be a little dissappointed too.

    All this to say... why don't we go buy a bag of snap things and sparklers and fire up the grill? What do you say?

    Wishing you a splendid 4th.
    :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I tend to be a bit more like your husband in that I'm not very sentimental over those kinds of things, but even I have my moments. The first Christmas I spent away from my parents was much harder for me than spending Thanksgiving and Canada Day (July 1st, it's our version of Independence Day) and Easter away, which weren't a particularly big deal to me.

    But since it does make you so sad to think about living away from your family forever, why do you? You moved away from them to meet Jay and learn new things about yourself, but you've done those things now. Have you talked about a plan to move back eventually? It sounds like you're giving up too much of yourself to stay in Southern California. Whereas it sounds like Jay could be happy anywhere, so why not?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I totally understand where you are coming from! Holidays were always a huge deal when I was growing up and those traditions are still very dear to me. Now, my family is spread out all over the country and I struggle every holiday to make new traditions with my boy (who doesn't care to make a big deal about them) while trying not to put so much pressure on him and make him feel like I'm unhappy. It's hard though and I still get homesick/nostalgic every holiday. I wish there was an easy answer but it's nice to know someone else feels the same way. Your writing is always so relateable...thanks for sharing your feelings on this day!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Holidays was either bland or painful for me. So when holidays come around, I have no issues being by myself or traveling somewhere.

    I feel obligated for Thanksgiving or Christmas to go home. But it's just so feels so fake.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm right there with you. I moved cross-country with my husband and now he's deployed. I'm struggling with the pain of people continuing traditions back home, while I'm stuck here.

    You aren't alone!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I know exactly what you mean. Being away from family in the holidays is hard, and it's worse every time. BUT I bet you'll be surprised at the memories you'll both make together - they'll come in their own time. For now, big hugs, and just know that I'm sure they're missing you as much as you're missing them. x

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've been the same way lately. The homesickness has gotten worse instead of better. My husband is like Jay, but I credit that to the fact that he's in the military and spent six months in Texas alone at the beginning of his time in the AF.

    Chin up, pretty girl.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Though I live really close to all of my family, the only thing keeping us from moving somewhere more amazing for us (well ok, not the ONLY thing..we kind of own a house...hah) is that they are all here. I couldn't imagine spending holidays, birthdays, etc. without family. To me, that is the point of them. Every time you say something like this around the holiday it makes me sad for you :( So I totally understand. guys are just different. Chris rarely fusses about not being around his family, which is good since they are 3k miles away. Maybe it's a girl thing? Maybe we were just raised differently. Anyways, if I were in your position I would definitely find a way to be closer to them, family is so important in life!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I totally understand! I do live near my family, but with my crazy (rotating shift) schedule, I hardly ever have the holidays off of work. And even if I do, I usually don't have the whole weekend off, which is hard in the summer bc the family goes up to the cabin. And all I do is dream of being there, enjoying the food together, and spending all day in the hot sun. Maybe someday we'll both have better holiday! (crossing fingers)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Kerri, you have no idea how close this description of your feelings hit home for me.

    I moved not two states, but a continent away to be with my J, but I have the same feelings about home and the once a year (!) visit just doesn't cut it.
    In the beginning, everything was new... new country, new language, new adventures... but now, after almost 8 years of being in California, it only feels like it's getting harder to be away from my family, my sister, my niece and nephew.

    I'd like to offer you a big hug right now, because I surely could need one myself.

    ReplyDelete
  12. sigh. while i don't know the pain of not being near my family (i'm too close. as in 300 steps away too close), i do know the pain of being married and feeling like now is your time together to start making your own memories and traditions together and life just not working out that way. in the past year, matt and i have missed every single holiday together. he always volunteers to work overtime on holidays so that the officers with families and little ones are able to stay home.

    it's the fourth of july and i'm sitting inside, sorting through laundry and trying to figure out how in the heck i'm going to decorate my office / craft room/ whatever it is. i miss him terribly on days like today. i feel like we should be having a bbq, having friend over, lighting sparklers... but he's at work. he went in at 3pm and won't be home until 7:30am tomorrow when i'm getting up to get ready for work. sigh.

    hang in there. pour a glass of wine and know that i'm doing the same. virutal date FTW. love you.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I do know how you feel.

    We lived in CA for a while and eventually packed up and moved back to MI to be closer to family, but I always felt like the distance affected me more than my husband.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I hear ya. I currently live a days drive from home or a $600 plane ride. I don't go home nearly as much as I'd like and I really feel like I'm missing out on a lot of things - especially the spontaneous family dinners and get-togethers that always happen.

    I really hope that I end up closer to home one day, but I just don't know for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm sorry you're sad and feeling misunderstood, friend. I'm a text/gchat away if you need to talk. Love you.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I think it's probably a good thing that your husband is opposite of you in this area. He can be your strength in this area if you let him. My husband is not so emotionally attached to many of the things that I am and it makes it easier sometimes to go to him for that strength.

    There truly is something about the traditions here in the Pacific Northwest that leave something to be desired by everyone who has lived here or visited here. Even with that, think of the life you have created in California, think of your new job, you wouldn't be able to find that back home. Maybe one day you will be able to move back but, for now, continue to count your blessings.

    And hey, bright side, your nephew is probably too young for sparklers anyway, right?

    ReplyDelete
  17. And that, my dear, is the difference between men and women. I'd always been so frustrated that my husband was content getting a Christmas tree from Costco (or not get one at all, if it was up to him), instead of cutting one down. Or any traditions just not being that big of a deal to him. About a year ago I read a book called about hospitality and it talked about one way to be hospitable as a wife (and mom one day) is to create those traditions. With four kids 5 and under we are definitely flexible with our traditions, but I'm the one that attempts them.
    I don't think there's anything wrong with missing your family and the nostalgia of growing up. I didn't have much to be nostalgic about growing up, so just be thankful for the wonderful family and amazing memories you do have. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I feel exactly the same way. The more holidays pass us, the more I wish I could be near my family. I'm not sure that will ever be possible though unless it's my family that's moving near me.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I know how you feel. I moved across the country and even though I knew it was best for me to do so, it still hurt that my family was so far aways.

    I do better now, but the thought that things arent' how I feel they "should be" really gets to me sometimes and I wonder why I feel that way when I love my life out here with Phil.

    Don't worry, these are the times that you really grow and get stronger. It might not feel that great and be so hard, but your family is always there for you and you can focus on that for now! So many people don't have the great family that you have and still long for something more, you just long for what you know and have.

    You're an incredibly lucky girl and maybe someday you'll be able to be closer to them!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I've mediated this exact disagreement between my brother and my sister. My sister lives in the Caribbean and although she loves her family and visits when she can, she loves traveling and exploring and living in exotic places. My brother, on the other hand, is a homebody. He plans to move back to our small hometown and have a wonderful life there close to family and childhood friends.

    They struggle to understand one another sometimes because they're so different in that regard. Me, I'm in the middle. I love to travel but I love to be home almost as much. I can see where both you and your husband stand. I think it's just a different view on that part of life; something to work through.

    Good luck. I hope it does get easier for you and I know you will make your own traditions eventually!

    ReplyDelete
  21. AWW.. now I want to give you a hug.:) It will be ok. You have a large supportive group of friends. I mean look at all the people that commented on this post. You are very lucky.:)

    ReplyDelete
  22. so glad to see you up and blogging again! ;-) I'm trying to get back into it as well.

    So, this post made me think of my future. I worked a 16 hour shift last night, got home at 6am and went back to work at 2pm the same day to work 8 more hours. It made me think of these times when matt and I get married, being far away from my family and their cookout tonight and going to the fireworks together and me being at work was hard enough. For these sorts of holidays from now on I will be far away. TOday I was thinking about Christmas time and how weird it is going to be with Matt and I alone in Chicago. I'm wondering if I will be able to get off work as a new nurse on Christmas. We may be making our own traditions and celebrating on a day that isn't Christmas day. The thought of calling home on Christmas day and hearing my families voices all having fun together breaks my heart a bit.

    Anyways, I feel as though I can sort of relate and completely understand! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  23. I am right there with you. I don't think I've actually ever met someone as nostalgic as myself. As crazy as it sounds, I don't go a single day without reminiscing about at least one good memory from my childhood/teen years, and not on purpose. It's just something that I guess takes up a big place in my heart. Sometimes I pull out the old 90's hand held video recorder, and watch home movies for hours. Sometimes I search the internet for episodes of my favorite childhood television shows. I don't live very far away from my family like you, but I still think my heart is making sure it's got an anchor in the past (for good reasons) and there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with you feeling this way. I hope one day you do get to live closer to your family, but if you don't, hold tight to those memories and know that they all know how much you love them and they love you!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'd probably feel this way, too - if I didn't live near most of my family. But, in a way, I think living near them helps me to be more realistic about my expectations for life to be like it was when I was a kid, you know?

    Yearning for the sense of family and togetherness and SIMPLICITY (before I became an adult and realized that life isn't quite as simple and perfect as it was when I was a kid) is normal. And it seems like that is what you are most pining after.

    Being near family helps, but it definitely doesn't take away the desire to just be with my sisters and have things be like they used to. Growing up is tricky business.

    (And for the record? Mike and I live 20 minutes from my parents and two of my siblings - we spent yesterday playing Wii Mario Party with my siblings for a few hours, then came home and did our own thing. No picnics, no parties, no holiday-ish things at all.)

    ReplyDelete
  25. My parents only live two hours away, so getting home for the holidays has never been an issue for me logistically. Just pack up the car, bring some good tunes, and go...and as soon as I got home, it was like I'd never left. Last year, Peter and I had our first Christmas together and it was weird. Christmas Eve was fine...opening gifts was fine...but then I just wanted to be home. We had to have Christmas dinner with his in-laws and I did NOT want to go. I didn't want to waste hours on Christmas day with them, which sounds awful, but it wasn't part of my Christmas routine. I didn't want to wear paper hats and open Christmas crackers. I wanted to be home playing board games and drinking hot chocolate with candy canes in it! I hate sharing holidays with both families.

    We ended up getting to my parents' around 6pm on Christmas and all the excitement of the day was over. It was just my mom and dad sitting around in a turkey coma. It was totally different and not fun.

    So all that to say: I know how you feel about missing the way things used to be, especially on holidays. I would love to be 10 or 11 again!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Melissa- @msmelissak7/5/10, 8:28 AM

    Isn't Minsk where Phoebe's manfriend went on Friends? I'm a big geek.
    Regardless.
    I can completely understand where you're coming from, and I think many people feel the same way. I'm extremely close with my family and know it would be really hard to be away, so I don't blame you for never really "getting over it".
    Hang in there, pretty.
    :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh, Kerri, I feel the exact same way. Lately, I've been pining for the simple comforts of the suburbs, for the people I used to know & who love me most. I've reached a point where I almost don't know how to function without that. So why am I still here?

    ReplyDelete
  28. My husband and I are the exact opposite. He's the one who always wants family around during the holidays... and while I would like it and I think it's nice when we can be with them, I don't worry about it if we can't be. He's in the military and since we got married we have never lived closer to our parents than an 18-hour drive away. Now we live in Alaska, and we're over 4000 miles away from our parents. In the 4 years we've been married I think we've only spent 2 holidays with family... and only a total of 5 holidays together, because he was gone the rest of the time. So I definitely understand the frustration of not getting to establish traditions of your own.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I recently moved in with my bf to our own house. My family is only 20 minutes away from my place but the first day i moved in I cried for 4 hours straight cuz I missed them so much. I am very close to my sisters and mum and leaving them and starting a new life was scary and new.

    I go for sleepover every week almost but my bf doesn't really like staying at his parents house which I find weird. Everytime we are together, we talk about our childhood stories that we must have discussed 50 times... but everytime they are equally funny and interesting.

    I know exactly how you feel. I wanted to move out of the country but thats definitely not happening anytime soon. Maybe you should try looking for work near your hometown?

    Love,

    Fare

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hey doll, I know the feeling, since I used to live in California while my entire family stayed in the Boston area. I was following my dreams.
    Holidays have always felt like "family holidays" to me, so I completely get you on that level.
    Could you move back at any point in time? At least a move doesn't have to be
    permanent. Or schedule more frequent visits back?

    ReplyDelete
  31. I totally hear you. My husband is a Navy man and I moved from NY to California three days after our wedding. Now we are in Texas and we've been married going on 3 years. I thought it would get easier but alas, it has not. If anything it has become way harder to be away on holidays.

    I get so sad. I hate it, honestly. : /

    ReplyDelete
  32. It might be a girl thing for the most part, but it probably just varies from person to person. I have to tell you that my heart is aching for you reading this. My mom was the only one of seven kids who moved away from Northern California. She has shared all of the same feelings you just did, including the good ones about how she figured out who she is. My feeling (and hope) is that you will both figure out what is best for you and follow through with it. It is never too late to move back, even though it may seem like it sometimes. We always find a way to make things work for us when we want them badly enough. I trust you'll figure it out. And, if it makes you feel better, I have my family and friends close by and STILL experience that yearning for the past. Nostalgic by nature is what we must be. It makes for good writing, though, don't you think? ; )

    ReplyDelete
  33. Sometimes I feel really strange living 2 blocks away from my family, but I don't think I could have it any other way.

    My husband is like Jay, though. He would move a million miles away from his family and be totally OK with it.

    I don't think you're alone.

    ReplyDelete
  34. This post is so so so true. Holidays are just chockfull of nostalgia and fuzzy warmness and of course some tradition, and maybe you need to create some of your own traditions with your hub-hubs? :) Love love this post.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I definitely get you on this one. My husband worked on July 4th and rarely gets any holidays off. While I do live close to family, the traditions are not the same and, for some reason, the 4th is a big sentimental one for me as well, with memories of bbq's and family fireworks. I think it partly is a mourning of childhood for me. I did watch the Capitol 4th in the evening and felt about 8 years old. I really believe it does get better and, with time, new traditions do emerge. My husband also isn't big on traditions but I am hoping to beat a few new ones into him. :)

    ReplyDelete
  36. I completely understand you! I did this a few years ago too and while I am grateful that I challenged myself in that way I was glad for the chance to move close to home again. But now that I'm home, I realize that I've changed but the people who never left haven't and there's something that doesn't quite fit. You can go home again, but sometimes it's the new home you'd prefer.

    Also, my husband is the same way. He misses being close to what was his home and yet he doesn't seem to mind missing holidays there. I guess men are just wired differently.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I have the same sort of feelings, though I don't live far away. I'm rather close to my family, but I feel as if we've grown apart over the past few years. Everyone has something they would like to do on the smaller holidays. This year my dad has gone fishing in Canada and I couldn't help but think yesterday that I wish he were with me to watch fireworks, like when I was little. Boyfriend doesn't understand my deep attachment because his family isn't as close knit as mine. Though I do think that girls in general feel tied to family in these small ways. I call it the motherly instinct in us all.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I feel like you ripped some of the emotions behind this post from my chest except instead of longing for family who is far away, I often find myself longing for the holidays of my childhood that seem so far away now.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I don't know what to tell you. This post seems so sad, in a pitiful sort of way. Is there any way you can maneuver your and his job around to move closer to your home?
    I've never really dealt with homesickness. I turned 18 and movied 900+ miles away to live in Manhattan; after a while, when I realized the mature thing to do is to move back home and finish college, I cried because I was leaving my beloved city. And I resented my small town in the Bible Belt for not being what I wanted.
    Everything happens for a reason, perhaps you're still there to find some solidarity between you and your spouse without the influence of family expectations.
    good luck. with everything.
    -K

    ReplyDelete
  40. Thank you for voicing the feelings that I've had for several years, and for being brave enough to voice your fears and work through these emotions that many of us also feel.

    Sending love and hopes for future family traditions your way!

    ReplyDelete
  41. I miss you more than you know. Come visit soon! :)

    ReplyDelete
  42. Although I am living far far away (as in an ocean away) from my own family and far away from my husband's family, I have never truly felt homesick. I assume it's because I have been living "on my own" since 9th grade when I started boarding school.

    There are days when I miss just heading over to family for dinner or a nice relaxed evening but I never truly felt heartbroken about it.

    I am sorry this is so hard on you. From your writing, I can tell that you have a very special and close relationship with your family. Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Oh I'm sorry you're feeling this way... My family only lives two hours away and I defintely dont' get to see them as often as I'd like either. I really wish they'd move to the same town I currently live in, but I don't think that's going to happen.

    Sometimes your friends have to be your family away from home - I hope you've got some of that going on!

    Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Living far away from family is a tough thing. I moved 2 hours away but find it hard to get home as often as I would like. It's especially hard to see my friends going to their parents houses on weekends and holidays or just to go shopping with their mom. I wish I could say it gets better, but I think the shine of a new place wears off pretty quickly. Just know you are not alone out there!

    ReplyDelete
  45. i guess my situation is less..."dire" because i'm much younger, in college and not married. but i can relate; i know a lot of people say to adapt to the present, and move on, but that's impossible for me. there's comfort and love in the past, so why would i want to let that go? i think it's a girl thing.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I'm super late in the game on this post, but I just read this and really want to give you a hug. It's not easy living far from home. I'm in Southern California, too, two states away from my family as well. Two states may not sound like much...but it's a far drive. Due to my own choices...life took me far away from home, and I've lived pretty far away since I was 18. Sometimes I look back and get really angry at the 18 and younger me, because I took for granted what I had. I didn't take enough time to kiss my baby brother or hug my sister. I was so wrapped up in what I wanted and where I was going in life, that I didn't take the time to appreciate what I had then. I love my life, and have found the love of my life and wouldn't want things any other way, but I don't see myselef ever living near them again unless they come here. Which...I don't really see happening. Which makes me so sad. I wish I could somehow make all our lives meld, so that it just somehow "worked." But for now I have to be grateful for the few visits a year I do get, and hope that in the future they won't be so few & far between. <3

    ReplyDelete
  47. I really do think its a guy thing. My hubby misses his mom whenever she comes and then leaves. Otherwise he seems to be fine that they live half way across the universe...you will be ok it takes time

    ReplyDelete
  48. oh bb. i just want to hug you. i hope once the little girls are a little bigger it will be easier for the fam to come visit you guys more often. hang in there, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  49. my husband is the same way. we left northern ca and moved to north carolina and it was really hard and still is to be away from family. it's even harder when we visit and have to come back. hubby, is good with the visits and gets right back into the swing of things when we return. it takes me weeks to get over the homesickness.

    ReplyDelete

Thoughts? Questions? General musings? Do share!

If you are asking a question, I will respond here within the comments—so, be sure to click that handy little "notify me" box below to know when I've replied!