Some daily stories begin as small ideas, snowballing through intensive edits and revisions, gradually evolving into massive personal reflections and meditations on the precise meaning of life, but today isn’t one of them; although, I do have an insightful perspective on the behavior of humans, specifically related to families.
Maybe it’s just me, but here’s what’s on my mind.
My original family consists of two brothers, a mother, and a father: all of which have relocated to other parts of the nation. I am the only root that remains in Pittsburgh, PA, which all five of us can claim as Hometown, USA. This revelation is most apparent during the holiday season—any holiday season, really—when I don’t celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving or whatever with my parents and siblings.
Sometimes, not at all times of every year, that brings a pinch of sadness into my life. I understand that people move for various reasons—whether changes in occupation or circumstance, prevalent weather conditions of a region, or simply a fresh start in their world—but that doesn’t mean that I have to be in love with the concept.
Each of my family members has established a life in another portion of the country, each with their own individual family unit. Numerous extended family members, grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, have also opted to start a new life, in a new place, which creates the opposite of family—if you retain the same definition as I do.
My definition of family, per the way that I view the world, is as follows:
- a cooperative collection of people (and sometimes the integral pet or two) that work together,
- to live and experience all that life has to offer (including birth and death, love and heartache, success and failure),
- to help each other with any struggles or provide consolation to personal hurt or sadness,
- to share each major holiday together in a time of fellowship,
- who bring each other joy (or at least attempt to do so),
- and, most importantly, who accompany you in driving through distant neighborhoods to locate that most-perfect Christmas light display which could power a small nation.
Maybe it’s just me, but that’s my idea of family.
Instead, what I am noticing—and not just within my own circle of influence—is that families have become primarily migratory. The norm of society seems to dictate that people must move away from their hometown, disregard a meaningful childhood of people and places and things, in favor of a career, or pleasure seeking, or an escape from reality. That’s certainly not me, at least I hope that’s not me.
I have no intention of leaving my small corner of Pennsylvania soon, anchoring myself in the 15-mile radius from which I was born and raised. But what if my children move to another state, another country, or another planet (ok that’s a stretch, but not an impossibility)? Would my wife and I follow them across the globe? That’s an answer for which I cannot create a response.
Maybe it’s just me, but I believe that humans—specifically families—were created to be more than migratory mammalia.