Friday, January 4, 2008

I Got 25 Pairs of Socks For Christmas. (!)

Ahh… Christmas Break. No break comes at such an appropriate time. Besides Christmas and all that, it also happens to be the time of year when the weather is depressing for much of us in the northern hemisphere -- so time away and with family is MUCH needed. This year was no different. Since it was my first winter break after college, I was accustomed to having two or three weeks to nap, eat, and hang out. An other prospect was shocking. And apparently, the working world only values three days as vacation - Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. I finagled my way out of that with some comp time and a sick day, so we were able to leave our little apartment for 11 days. (Whee!)

All of the expected family fun ensued, including a caroling party Friday, on Saturday we enjoyed family "date night" with ice skating, sharing tiramisu and pasta, and singing Christmas carols on the trolley downtown, Dad's family gathering Sunday (he has 13 siblings. i know.), Christmas Eve dinner Monday (with seven boys under the age of four, it was chaotic and violent, to say the least), Christmas Day mass and presents (including homemade donuts for dinner. mmm.), Wednesday was Mom's family game night (with over 60 people at our house. 4 infants. children waaay outnumbered adults and I enjoyed a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, thank you), then Thursday was my Dad's birthday so we went out to breakfast. Whew. Seven days at my parents house and nearly every day was BOOKED with family gatherings! I absolutely adore my family and we get along famously most of the time. I can't imagine not getting to go home this time of the year for the chaos, the food, the fun, and being around some of the most important people in the world to me.

After that, we drove 2.5 hours to Mike's hometown and stayed for two days, drove back here (another 2.5 hours) for a night before continuing on to Nashville, which took over 6 hours. It was a really nice drive and Mike and I enjoyed some awesome books on tape. We spent three days with his adorable niece and nephew, as well as my brother-in-law and his wife before making the drive back (which turned into 7 hours thanks to the traffic). We really enjoyed getting to see so many people we love in such a short time span. (Although, to be honest I think Mike's highlight was really the Michigan win. Which was pretty spectacular if I may say so as a newbie football fan.)

I am so thankful that we both have such wonderful families to visit and are blessed with so much joy when we're with them. I know I'm lucky to have a vacation at all! My dilemma in all of this is the mobility I love so much. Not just with driving 20 hours over Christmas break to see family -- but the international travel as well. I've lived in three countries, Hawaii, and Ohio and filled up my second passport by the time I was 20. If I could, I would travel half the year. Spontaneously deciding to take an international trip is something I crave. Immersion in other cultures gives me energy and excites me. Airports and airplanes are some of my favorite places in the world. (Driving on scary roads, however, I could do without.) I desperately want to visit New Zealand, Italy, and Morocco. I can't wait to go back to Malaysia, Hawaii, and Paris. Being a third culture kid is something I wouldn't trade for the world. It's given me experience and a perspective that are inherent in who I am.

But at what cost? And how can I continue to dream of travel when I now know how much our mobility is affecting our culture and our planet? I am torn. On one hand, I love my family and desire rootedness and a sense of community that comes from staying put. On the other hand, TRAVEL! I no longer can play naive to the ways that our dependence on oil is hurting our country and our world. Driving over 900 miles in a week and a half just for fun -- is that selfish?

As Mike and I look towards where the future will take us, I feel we need to take our families into consideration when deciding where to live. If for no other reason than we drive to see them every month or so -- so why live 7 hours away? I'd love to try living car-less in a big city, but fear we'd never see our families. So basically, I'm torn in so many ways. Thankfully (I guess) for now, we don't have the funds for much exotic travel so I needn't fret. It's just hard to see this "environmental thing" impact every aspect of our lives. A year ago, I wouldn't have thought twice about picking up strawberries from Argentina and tomatoes from Mexico in January. Today, I scoured the produce section looking for local (-ish) veggies. Are we too mobile as a society? Perhaps some would call it progress. I don't know.

What I do know is that I have some CUTE cousins. :)
what's wrong, Chicken Little?


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