Ah, the holiday season is now more or less officially upon us. That most American of holidays -- Thanksgiving (or more casually to some, Turkey Day) -- is tomorrow. After that, it's just a downhill coast into Yuletide and New Year's Day, bringing all of the hallowed tradition and blantant commericalism those holidays imply.
Fiancee S. and I will be spending the holidays my parents in the land of my birth this year. We went back for Thanksgiving last year to introduce her to my friends and relations back there. We've more or less agreed to alternate travel to my parents' place from year to year. This year, we will travel around Christmas. Next year, we will try to make it back for Thanksgiving, and so on.
It will be good to be back. I have lived away from the land of my birth for over a decade now, but, there is no place like it in some ways. I have friends who I have known for decades back there. I also have family. My current surround is an excellent place to live with many virtues, but I will never be a native here.
I find, however, that somewhat selfish thoughts intrude when I think about being "home for the holidays". To explain why, I must first mention my brother-in-law, M. My parents and M. have a sometimes uneven relationship. They did not necessarily approve of M. when he and my sister Sa. first started seeing each other over 10 years ago, mostly because of how he acts.
M. can be a difficult man to know in some ways. While he has many praiseworthy aspects (he has a Ph.D. in Chemistry, which makes him deserving of major respect from me), his actions can sometimes be interpreted as immature and childish. His sense of humor has a hard edge to it, making it sometimes seems insensitive. His situation growing up was somewhat unsettled and because of that or cultural disposition, he seems to thrive more on argument and conflict than good natured relations. M. is not the kind of guy that seems easy to hang out with when you first meet him, and the way he treats my sister has not always been as my parents would like.
Yet, M. is now a member of our family and my sister Sa. loves him dearly. He will soon be the father of my parents' first grandchild and my first niece or nephew (Sa. is expecting in February.)
Though it may not always be easy to understand M., we try hard to do so and build a good relationship with him.
Now the selfish part: I don't want there to be that kind struggle between Fiancee S. and my family. She is a jewel in my eyes, and I hope that all of my old friends and relations see her and quickly grow to understand why. I want her to fit in with my friends and family, in ways that M. has not.
And there, my friends, is where I feel a sharp pang of guilt. I have an intense sense of loyalty toward my sister. I want to respect and I wish I could accept M. more than I do at times. There is a lot about M. that I admire, but I don't think I will ever really understand some things about M., or thoroughly embrace him.
Yet I have to admire my sister. She has stuck to the courage of her conviction that M. is the right man for her through all of this. I know that everything with Fiancee S. would probably be harder if she and my parents didn't get along. Yes, Sa. has complained at times about her relationship with the family, but, she stuck it out. As I prepare to expand our family by marrying Fiancee S., I have to admire that determination and fortitude.
on 2003-11-26 at 6:37 p.m.
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