Home for the Holidays

21 Nov

One of the biggest perks of moving back to Orange County is being able to spend more time with family. I imagine many of you are anticipating family gatherings for Thanksgiving, but the season started early this year for me and my partner. We both have large tight-knit families and I have the new distinction of being my parents’ only child in Southern California. Whereas before I would just swoop in and out for a weekend every month or two, short on time, car-less, and generally not expected to do much besides show up, I am finding myself now actually responsible for things.

We kicked off the family gatherings with a baby shower for my out-of-state sister. With not much to do in OC, I was the only sibling with enough free time to plan the shower. Being local also meant I could buy party supplies, make decorations, and pick up the cake. We also did airport pick-ups and drop-offs, hosted family overnight in our apartment, and lent out our car.

Soon after was Halloween, not a big holiday in my family, but huge in my partner’s, so I was happy to be around to partake. I left work two hours early to make it in time for pre-dusk Halloween dress-up and photos with my partner and his daughter. Then we spent two hours trailing his daughter and her friends, along with ten other parents, as they trick-or-treated around the neighborhood.

The following week brought a cousin’s dance competition immediately followed by a different cousin’s wedding reception. There have been Saturday morning soccer games for the daughter followed by lunch at my parents’ house. For the first time, we are actually bringing a dish to our potluck Thanksgiving celebrations.

I love being able to be here for all of this. I don’t want to miss these last years of his daughter’s childhood and I want to be here for my parents in their retirement.

What strikes me, actually, is that I spend less time with family than I expected. Perhaps it’s because they’re not used to me being around, but my parents never call even though I’m just 30 minutes away. My mom put up all the Christmas decorations herself without telling me (yes, they’re already up). We missed Back-to-School night and the end-of-soccer pizza party because I wasn’t told ahead of time (my partner doesn’t remember appointments – but that’s a different blog post).

Without a political community here and with very few friends, I find myself expecting my partner and our families to make up the void for me. I think family is really important, especially as immigrants, but I’m starting to realize that you can’t substitute one community for another. I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with the messy process of finding or building a new community for myself because I had my family. But they are busy with their own lives, we’re spread out, and there are just some things we don’t have in common that I look to to sustain me.

I’m thrilled to be home for the holidays, and the next 6 weeks are going to be pretty packed. But I know what my New Year’s Resolution needs to be.

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