September 22, 2007

Family, Proximity, And

An ongoing conversation that we have is that of living thousands of miles away from the majority of our family. Both my husband and I have embraced the tradition of inviting others into our home for dinners, celebrations, etc... however there is just something special about being able to invite family over every now and then. We love having company, and do so fairly frequently, however company is inherently friends and not necessarily family. We do have an aunt/uncle/cousin who live nearby in PA but the majority of our family lives in the Midwest. The ability to call mom, grandma, aunt, or sister over for a random coffee chat or meal mid-week is something I think most take for granted and don't realize how special this ability truly is.

This weekend my aunt and uncle, retired educators, stopped by for a couple of nights on their tour of the northeast. It has been nothing less than fantastic to have family around for the weekend. It's even better that this part of the family tends to swing towards our end of the political pendulum making for quite interesting political conversation at the dinner table. It's also nice to know that I'm not the only Wienke to have a tendency towards sarcasm. (Go caramel)

One thing that I will take away from this weekend is that the family connection is not something that is met purely through constant interaction with each other, but that it's carried on through our traits as well. My uncle reminds me so much of my grandmother, and sitting around the dinner table talking about "things" brought back so many memories of my grandmother and grandfather that simply put, nobody else could have possible rendered. My grandfather was the type to take me on an imaginary hop-scotch tour to McDonald's for an ice cream cone, where my grandmother made sure the last pea on my plate was finished before allowing any form of moving on from dinner for the evening. They were lovely people, and an absolutely amazing couple, but I certainly remember specific traits that made them "them" and having my uncle to visit this weekend reminded me of many of those. It's fun to have that.

I often wonder how we will create moments like these for our child. We definitely plan on visiting Ethiopia with our child, however the inherent "your face looks like grandma's" and "that's an expression grandpa would make!" are things that will have different meanings for our child. The family connection is so important, and making this connection is going to introduce challenges. I know that these are challenges that will be met and overcome. Every family has their challenges, distance often being one of them. Thank goodness for Internet, airports, and caramels.

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