I’m pretty sure that my faded feelings of angst were borrowed. Perhaps they’re inherited. Whatever the case may be they are sincere. At least at one point they were. they’ve largely been replaced by more literary feelings better described as ennui or melancholia and these occupy a tiny spectrum of my mood wheel that would be a teeny tiny fraction of the area formerly owned by angst.
This is not to say that it wasn’t come upon honestly. While my supporting documentation wouldn’t seem to support my general affect, that’s not the same as saying the feelings were an act. They weren’t. They were just an inheritance. A side effect of a temperament that can lend itself to self-pity and biology that can skew toward depression.
The reality of my life couldn’t be more at odds with this discordant temperament. My family in all directions is nothing but wonderful. I have 5 to 8 siblings depending on how that term is defined. Strictly biologically speaking I have 5, but if you count all of the kin that grew up with seats at the table and familial relations it’s definitely the more inclusive number. All of whom have been a delight to know. They are smart and funny. Challenging and tolerant. They are supportive and fun. While we don’t all see each other as much as we’d like, we are a hoot to be around when we do get together. My brothers and sisters are generous with their time, money and love and we all have a deep appreciation at this point for the family we were blessed with.
My nuclear family at the moment is in a constant state of becoming and it’s a process i so clearly delight in. I’m learning every day to be better at being okay. My natural tendency to harsh self-criticism has been mitigated by the perspective and presentness of parenthood. It is impossible to dwell too in depthly at this point in my life and I couldn’t be more grateful. The morass that my wallowing would accompany was a useless emotional appendage that had become a dependable crutch and occasionally a warm security blanket. Make no mistake people, light depression surrounded by loving support is a perfectly sustainable and comfortable existence. It’s just not a very productive one.
But the greatest gift I’ve been given are my parents. I spent my youth, roughly age 9-30-something, defining myself away from them. A ridiculous but necessary endeavor. The only problem is I’m actually the luckiest person on earth in this regard. And this is not just bias. Other people, considerable numbers of others, would agree with this. My parents have opened their homes and their hearts to anyone in need for as long as I can remember. They have literally played Santa Claus for the world without ever taking credit. They hold hands and say prayers every night for all of their children, all of their children’s friends and express genuine thankfulness and appreciation for the beauty of life itself in the midst of challenges that would crush me and many others. Their generosity has literally known no bounds.
Beyond this they are such wonderful barometers of what is important in life. This year they have put the home I grew up in on the market and downsized to a beautiful new home that is much more suited to their current needs. While we are all delighted for them, it has come with nostalgic feelings that are hard to process. But my parents are so in tune with who we are and what we need that they took the time to address it in the most loving and delicate of ways.
We received our Christmas box at our door a few weeks before the holiday and having little ones, immediately banished it from sight, not to be opened until Christmas eve. When we did so we were thrilled to see the wonderful toys and gifts for the kids we knew would be in there. My mother knows little boys and the big trucks and wrapped boxes are all a big part of the mornings excitement and they nailed it. But underneath that were some gifts for us. My mother put together a beautiful album of photo’s lovingly taken of the house in all it’s glory and then in all its spacious emptiness and shots from outside and from the windows. Everything I’ll need in my dotage to be transported back in time to the place that will always be my specific home. It was enough on it’s own. But my mom also included a disc. And this is where she truly gets it. She went into a room in our old homestead and recorded herself singing all of her favorite Christmas carols. Can you even imagine? In such a self-conscious world to be reminded by this humble and beautiful servant of what matters. My mothers voice is my most native language and this is a treasure that I will take and place alongside so many others that I’ve been lucky enough to receive from my folks.
Further down in the box was what my mother always sends. At least it appeared to be. It was a holiday piece, covered in holly decoration intended for a mantle for now and perhaps for a subtle centerpiece on a table once the kids can be trusted with such things. But it was more that that. Under the holly was a short cut of a tree. It had been created by my father, a talented artist who worked his whole career as an industrial designer. He had taken pieces of fallen wood from our home and fabricated this beautiful Christmas piece with his own hands. It will be loved and featured for the rest of my life. Because it is perfect. But also, and mostly, because it was made truly lovingly and thoughtfully and with a purpose to provide and show love to me and to my family.
At the bottom of the box was the final piece of the gift. It was a multi page narrative of the history of our house. It was a beautiful narrative from a designer, highlighting his choices in designing the house. He was not an architect, but he knew what he wanted so he learned how to design a house and did so. In a weekend. I know this and am bragging, but he is humble and would never mention it. He noted the wide walkways and large rooms meant to house his giant and growing family some 35 years ago. He recalled the glorious moments and the wonderful warmth of the family life that it so perfectly supported. His concrete and intelligent mind drifted to his heart and he shared personal and subtle examples of the life this house had hosted. It was so beautiful and could barely get through reading it to Karen that first night. I will take this piece out to read at least once a year. It will be a part of my life forever. And there’s nothing they could have gotten me that will mean more than they did.
The lessons I’ve learned and my wonderful good fortune is sometimes lost on me. But thankfully I have reminders that mine is a wonderful life indeed.