Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The human predicament explained.

Thanksgiving is now over for another year and once again the usual good time was had by the usual all. We participated in two Thanksgiving get-togethers, one on Wednesday night at my son's house with all 14 of our immediate family present, and one on The Big Day Itself at my son-in-law's parents' house three hours to the west with 38 present.

Which set me to thinking about family sizes and how different our experiences can be. When I was a kid growing up in Texas, for example, all holidays consisted of just the three of us--Mama, Daddy, and me--around the kitchen dinette table. All of Mama's relatives lived in Pennsylvania and all of Daddy's relatives lived in Iowa and Wisconsin. By the time I was 14 I had met two of hers and none of his. In those days before air travel was common, every trip had to be by train or automobile and would have taken several days, so trips simply didn't take place. Those were also the days when long-distance telephone calls were very expensive. My mother talked to her sister once a year, on New Year's Eve, when my aunt called from Philadelphia at 11 p.m. Texas time to wish us all a happy new year. After Mama died and Daddy married my stepmother, I experienced true culture shock. I went overnight from being an only child to being the middle one of five children. My stepmother herself was the second oldest of ten children, and all but one of them lived in Dallas County. Every holiday meant gobs and gobs of relatives on the premises, 40 or 50 at least. Sometimes it didn't even have to be a holiday.

I guess what I'm saying is, be thankful for the things you have and the ones you love, but don't ever think that you understand others or that they understand you. We cannot walk in one another's shoes; we can walk only in our own. Each of us has a unique life with a unique set of experiences. The wonder is that we can communicate at all.

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