Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weekend with the family I'm not related to

I decided not to go to Atlanta to be with my family this Thanksgiving.  I visited my sister and her family in late October, so it wasn't a big deal to skip seeing them for the holiday.  Mom and Dad were in Atlanta and that was the main reason I had thought about going.  But the idea of traveling at the same time as the rest of the country and right after the fall retreat with the high school kids made the idea a lot less attractive to me.  Then Mom said that it was okay if they didn't see me until Christmas and, well, my mind was made up.  So, instead of spending the long weekend with the family I'm related to, I spent it with the one that I'm not.  And it's been a great time.

Wednesday evening was Thanksgiving service at church.  I love when my church does evening services.  We only do them a couple of times a year (Maundy Thursday, Thanksgiving, Lessons and Carols before Christmas, Christmas Eve and a handful of other all church events that usually include a meal and more of a devotion rather than a full service) and each time they're great.  Most of the evening services are very laid back, relaxed times.  Not that our Sunday morning services are terribly formal, but the evening events are just smaller, more intimate, more comfortable.  In a very real way, it's family time.  Wednesday evening was definitely that.  And it was a lot of fun and a neat time.  Most of our college students were home and it's always great to see them and have a chance to catch up with how their semester is going.

Thursday I watched Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade...they weren't showing the Detroit parade but I did get to see the Georgia Tech marching band twice (thanks to different stations being at different spots on the parade route).  It wasn't quite the same.  The Smurf balloon isn't near as cool as Chilly Willy (the big penguin balloon that escaped one year due to wet ground and high winds the night before Thanksgiving.  He was found floating in the Detroit river, fished out, repaired and made the honorary grand marshal the next year.)  But it was still cool to hear The Ramblin' Wreck on my television as I put together my caramel apple pie.  I had dinner with the Olson family (from my church) including some of their extended family and a couple of other people who were without family they're related to, as has become my tradition over the past few years.  Having been made an honorary Olson a while back, I figure it's only fitting to spend at least one holiday with them each year.  I was seated at the "geek table" (there was also a "history" table and one for the "general audience") with Eric, Alexis and Peter (all non-honorary Olsons) and one of Alexis' professors from when he was an undergrad at UT-Arlington (he's now a PhD student in math at A&M.).   After dinner we sang some hymns and shared what we were thankful for.  Again, a very laid back and comfortable event with people I consider to be family.  The group broke up sometime around nap/football time and I headed home for some quality time on the couch (which is always my cats' favorite time of any weekend.)

Friday, after taking advantage of some Black Friday deals (Half Priced books had a good sale.  Target was a little crazy.  I shouldn't have bothered to even stop at Best Buy for the three minutes that I did.), I got ready to have friends over to play some games.  Mostly, it was a chance to get together with friends who are family, drink Kool Aid and play Settlers of Catan.  The Olsons kids, almost half of the Sneeds, and two other friends from church showed up and a good time was had by all.  Although, it would have been nice to have another Settlers game since only six can play at a time and no one was really interested in playing much of anything else.  But that was okay.  Again, it was a nice, laid back, comfortable way to spend some time with more of my family that I'm not related to.

Saturday I was mostly on my own, although I did see a few friends at the gym and chatted with some others over IM.

Today was church of course.  Attendance was a little lighter than usual and, for some reason, everyone seemed to clear out more quickly than usual.  Then, this evening, we had our Advent celebration.  It's another of my church's evening events.  This one includes advent crafts, dinner and a devotional time.  As with everything else this weekend, it was a lot of fun and a great, laid back, comfortable time to be with family.  I got to chat with some friends, helped prepare the food and clean things up, helped make a wreath that will be given to our friends at the nursing home when the youth go there in two weeks to sing and visit, made silly faces at little kids (and some big kids) and just had a great time. 

I wasn't able to spend the weekend with my family family, but that didn't mean I was anywhere near alone.  The people who are in my life, especially those who are a part of my church family, are just as important (or almost) to me as my family that I'm related to.  They're the people who I live my day-to-day life with.  They're the people who, just like my family that I'm related to, will always be there for me.  They keep an eye on me and no matter what will be there for me whenever I need anything (and sometimes even before I realize I need something).  And I'm there for them.  Sometimes, when I wonder if I should move closer to my sister and her family, especially when I'm feeling kinda disconnected from the lives of my nephews, I remember that even though I'm not a blood relative of anyone that's in my church, we're no less family members.  When I think about the possibility of having to move for my job (a fairly slim possibility at this point) the idea of leaving my church is the hardest part.  It's not that I don't have family here in Fort Worth.  I just define my family a little bit differently than most people.  And, ya know, that's just fine with me.

So, yeah, I spent Thanksgiving with my family.  And it was a great time...and cheaper and a lot more relaxing than having to brave air travel.