I could literally write an epic about how awesome my family is.
My parents are flying down this weekend to watch me run the marathon. Let’s just talk about that for a second. I already wrote about how awesome they were when I was running cross country and track meets in high school — and they’re still doing it. They’re going to give up their weekend, fly down from the Bay Area, get up at the ass-crack of dawn, and stand around for 4+ hours to see me for, like, 20 seconds or so. And then watch me eat all the things afterward.
My brothers and I are each two years apart — I’m the oldest, Brother #1 (hereafter known as Med School) is two years younger, and Brother #2 (Rocket Scientist) is two years younger than Med School.
Growing up, we didn’t always get along. Sometimes we did, and we didn’t have a lot of full-on, knock-down fights — but for most of our childhood, we were either bickering or ignoring each other. (Or getting dragged to each other’s various sporting events, often against our will.)
I can’t put into words how grateful I am that, somehow, after I left for college, my brothers and I became friends. We have one dynamic altogether, I have one dynamic with Med School, one with Rocket Scientist, and they have their own.
Med School and I can talk about anything — there was a brief time in college when I got used to late-night calls from him when he needed to either vent about his (now ex) girlfriend or talk through how he didn’t want to pursue film production, but wanted to be a doctor or firefighter instead. And now he’s gonna give me free medical advice for the rest of my life.
Rocket Scientist has this wonderful, dry, subtle sense of humor that cracks me up. He was the most introverted and quiet of the three of us, so I think none of us — my parents included — realized how crazy smart he really is. I mean, he’s got a Masters of Science in what most people agree is the toughest engineering discipline (aeronautical).
I’m already seeing us grow up and grow apart into our separate lives, which makes me even more grateful that we’ve developed this bond — that we’re not just brothers and sister, we’re honest-to-God friends. There is absolutely nothing I wouldn’t do for those two.
And as we grow up, I’m also grateful that we have a wonderful example and tradition of family staying close. We’ve been getting together with my mom’s family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) and going to Lake Tahoe twice a year since I was about four or five. When I was in junior high-ish, my parents bought a cabin up there. Then they bought land and my dad designed a custom family vacation home. And we still get together for those two weeks every year — in addition to Thanksgiving and Easter and other random occasions (graduations, First Communions, whatever). We’re lucky that everyone’s in California (and Reno) — and even though not everyone can come to every get-together, I know without a doubt I’ll see every single relative (plus some second cousins and cousins once removed) at some point every year. And I know that all those get-togethers will be fun and drama-free. My dad’s family is a little more spread out and we don’t see those aunts/uncles/cousins as often — but I still love them all and I think it makes me even more grateful to have my mom’s side.
So I’m grateful to my parents for instilling a “family first” mindset (also, Husband says that’s part of what made him want to marry me). And I’m grateful that I genuinely like every single one of those crazy nuts. We’re far from perfect, but I really can’t relate to those articles that crop up around the holidays about “how to deal with stressful family dinners,” or people who complain about “having” to go visit family.
I know I’m so incredibly lucky to have such an amazing group of supportive, accepting, loving, helpful, unselfish people around me (remember how a bunch of them rearranged plans to come help me find Onyx over Thanksgiving?). And most of all, I’m grateful that I recognize how amazing that is, because I won’t ever take it for granted.