That Which We Cannot Name

Yesterday I ate Christmas dinner. Twice. That itself may have been tiring, but it was the company that was most exhaustive. I’m an introvert; I can’t help but feel weighed down in large crowds.

Even if they are family.

Yet for all the anguish and agony, today I’m thankful for my family. Of course, I’m thankful for my family every day (at least most days), but today I’m making something special of it.

It’s hard to express gratitude toward my family. It’s one of those things where you really see that love and hate are two sides of the same coin. It’s easy to list grievances and complaints because we deal with our family so much the easy stuff–the things we can clearly be thankful for–are often ignored in response to the many little things that just overwhelm and annoy us.

For example, for as much as I love my niece, it’s annoying when she stands in front of the TV right when a battle begins, or when I have to lock my door just so she doesn’t barge in while I’m in the middle of my homework, or when I have to hold her limbs in place in the car to get her to stop kicking and slapping. It’s easy to feel angry with those you love and those who know you most: They know you, you would think, so shouldn’t they know what not to do to aggravate you?

And yet they do. Which only exacerbates the issues.

The things we love are also much more abstract than the things we hate. The happiness in a smile? The tenderness of a hug? The place they fill inside you that has neither place nor name? These are the things you don’t know you have till you have them no more, and when this is the case, they’re only that much harder to appreciate.

However, this does not alleviate our obligation to be grateful for those who are in our families–whether by blood or love, it does not matter. Our families help us when we’re down, support us, and encourage us–and surely these are all things to be thankful for.

Except all our families are not made equal. Not all families are as loving and supportive as they should be, and that should make us only more thankful for our families when they are. Whether because of an abusive parent, an overbearing sibling, or whatever–sometimes our families are not what they should be. And it saddens me whenever I see this, when I see friends kicked out because they’re gay or parents yelling at their children at the mall or a McDonald’s play place. Not all families are equal after all.

By those standards, my family is pretty great. We enjoy Twilight together (take that in context: I don’t enjoy Twilight alone, but it’s something we share), we watch TV together, we eat together. These past couple of years we’ve even done NaNoWriMo together. My brother and I bond over video games, whether we’re discussing them or playing Super Smash Bros. My siblings and I frequently exchange our CDs and share our music. My sister even gave me an old astrology book she had, which somehow became one of my biggest inspirations to start writing.

It all bleeds together in the end anyways.

But like I said, it’s hard to express thankfulness towards my family, though that by no means doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for them. I’m just quieter about it, because it’s harder to say. Doesn’t it always turn out that way?

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