We drove to Madrid (pronounced Mad-Rid) to see dear friends for Thanksgiving and to take our first long-distance trip in our motor home. We also wanted to decompress from daily life in Austin, Texas, a city that continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
Madrid is the polar opposite of Austin… of anyplace, really. It’s an off-the-grid artist’s colony, and that’s exactly what we loved about it. The thing I found most challenging–beyond the freezing weather–was the limited cell phone service and no wi-fi connection.
Once I resolved myself to being unplugged, it was kinda wonderful. We enjoyed our friends, completely; met great new people and talked for hours on end, a lot of it about family. It made me think about the difference between family and friends.
In Roger Ebert’s review of my favorite holiday movie, “Home for the Holidays,” he says this difference “is not because we don’t love our families, but because we know them so well…” and they know us so well.
Those of you who’re old enough may remember Rex Harrison’s song in My Fair Lady: “Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?” What would happen if I changed the lyrics to question, why can’t our families be more like our friends?
Friends are so friendly, good natured and kind.
Better companions you will never find.
Friends are so decent, such regular chaps.
Ready to help you through any mishaps.
Ready to buck you up whenever you are glum.
Why can’t our families be more like our chums?
Some of us are lucky to have our family be our chums, but for those who aren’t, you still have a few weeks to figure out:
1) How to get out of going to see your family for the holidays.
2) How to get out of them coming to see you.
3) How to let go of the past and Be Here Now. Somebody has to do it. Why not you?
4) How to find a way to laugh about your family’s idiosyncrasies.
My New Mexico friend said every time she asks her Mom to bring a green vegetable for dinner, she shows up with green Jell-O and pineapple. It’s easy for me to laugh… It’s not my Mom.
If you find that none of the above works for you, option #5 is to pour a healthy dose of bourbon into your eggnog.