Wednesday, December 27, 2006

a new Christmas tradition

This Christmas was unusual: my first Christmas spent away from family. I have found a new tradition. Instead of traveling, agonizing over gifts (I am a self-confessed idiot when it comes to picking out presents), or negotiating family, I spent a quiet, fun, and normal evening with Cullen and his brother. We decided that since it was, after all, Christmas, we should cook something nice, but there was no Christmas music playing (I think Beastie Boys was playing at one point), no Christmas decorations, and no obligatory gift giving and wrapping paper to clean up. Cullen gave me my gifts the night before--they were un-wrapped and hidden in a closet, and he found his gifts the following day, so we kept that part personal--but Christmas itself was just an ordinary evening spent in great company.
We each contributed to the feast. Cullen grilled (a new North Carolina term I am incorporating into my vocabulary: out here, you grill, you don't BBQ food) a delicious chicken, I baked bread and made mushroom risotto and a salad, and Will made fondue. We had enough food for 10 people, and we ate so much that we were almost at the point of sweating. But it was delicious. We laughed a lot, and we drank a few bottles of wine, and because the chicken took so long to cook, dinner wasn't consumed until 9. But that was perfectly okay. Because it was just us, and no children eager to eat quickly so that gifts could be un-wrapped, or elderly relatives who needed to be home before too late--just us. No schedule, and certainly no reason to be hasty--especially with all that fondue. And the best part? No Christmas letdown. I can't quite articulate that feeling, but I used to get it every year. After the presents are opened, and the dessert consumed, a feeling hangs in the air--a nebulous discomfort of "that was it?" All of the holiday hype, and two months of suffering through Christmas music and plastic-ness and poof--it's gone. Christmas is over and piles of ribbons and crumpled wrapping paper remain.
I now prefer the dinner party approach.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

M&D do Winston

My parents came out to visit me this past week. I decided not to fly home for the holidays, so they came out from CA to check out my new home. They had been to NC before, but a cross-country road trip in a Bookmobile makes it difficult to really “know” an area. I was their obliging tour-guide; their visit allowed me an excuse to take a few days off work, and I was eager to explore my new home more.
We did the typical tourist attractions: went to Asheville and toured the Biltmore house, hiked the local trails in Winston, sampled the many fine restaurants here, and toured the Reynolda house museum in town. I learned a lot about the area, which I enjoyed—I feel like I am piecing together the area more.
I think that they enjoyed Winston-Salem more than they had anticipated. I am not sure what their image of the town was prior to coming, but it seems that they have turned a corner; I think that they are beginning to understand why I moved across the country. Winston is just a nice place. There is nothing striking that stands out about the area—no ocean down the street or fantastic lifestyle attraction, but it is a good place to live, and the combination of little things here add to its overall charm. I have found my spot here, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else now where I could be more content. I have a fantastic job, I have met my media naranja, I have great friendships, running trails abound, and the area is replete with cool spots to explore.
I have a hard time imagining what it feels like to be a parent—there are certain aspects of a parent/child dynamic that are not reciprocated. It was easy for me to move out here, but for them, I suppose, it is more of a struggle to have their kids scattered about. The feelings surrounding my move were definitely not mutual. I was ecstatic; my mother cried for a week. But here’s what it comes down to, and I hope that they get this: if your children are truly happy, let the resistance go. No matter where they live, or what lifestyle they embrace, or what political/religious persuasions they may espouse, if they are truly content, then as a parent, rejoice in that, because true contentment is rare.