Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Blues

Mom's gone. This year that really hit home like Mom's gone, like the Kawai Clan is a thing of the past, like an era is over in one little AHA moment. I could have been upset and think the holiday got ruined by bratty behavior. But with that "lightbulb going off in my head" I realized what held the heart of a family holiday for me. It is the cooking together of women and girls of the family gathered around a table making food. For others, it may be making wontons, or tamales. For us, it was sushi or mochi. It was making lots of other things bustling together in the kitchen. When Will and I were raising our kids, it may have been a small bustle the two girls and I. When the girls were gone, it was Mom and I, she sitting, perhaps, but there was still this thin little line to the old days. Every other year we go to my sisters. There is a little bustle there for the big meal on the Holiday day, but for her, the holidays, as she says often is family RELAXING together and the love she puts in it is in her custom made stockings filled with surprises from Santa. But this year, my sister's family who came at Thanksgiving are visiting other family for Christmas, and we are on our own, and Mom's gone.

So in that AHA moment with our daughter spending her break from college in Portland with her boyfriend and changing plans of our getting stuff prepared for the holiday at the coast the three of us are preparing for, I became a crybaby. It didn't affect me when all our plans for cooking and taking food for ceremony suddenly landed on my shoulders entirely when she decided to go to Portland to MEET that boyfriend (she agreed to be part of the Portland film shootout. He acted in it.) Why now?

I've been meeting with a circle of Sisters (as we call each other), supporting each other every other week on a Saturday morning. All are very involved, actively involved in community. All are passionate about justice. All see their world as a rainbow of cultures and have love for the whole spectrum of emerging young leaders. All of us help each other. I am Amigos. They are Winnemem Support. We all support each other's work, play, and now we support the difficult work of taking care of ourselves, something we all also share, the multitude of ways we can back burner ourselves, a deeply ingrained habit we all had in our busy lives when we all ran into each other over and over and began to share a bond.

On the way to our Saturday morning together, my disappointment of not having a family holiday again, feeling sorry for myself our plans were ruined by our daughter, that AHA moment came. Just as I approached the exit a Flash/a voice/a nudge and I realized, it's all about preparing the food. And now Mom is gone. And in my whole family -- at least Mom's branch of the family -- I am alone seeing family holiday as women preparing food and talking, solving the world's problems, laughing and teasing one another, remembering family anecdotes, talk story while preparing food. Mom is gone.

By the time I came down the exit and turned right, I also honored the fact that for our daughter, holiday is filled with parties with her friends and cozy new evenings with a new boyfriend. What's wrong with that? And holidays for my husband, well, in our family the guys did something else at holidays, and Will does something else very well.

I brought this up in our Sisters Circle. The feeling has a name. Longing. And I have some work to do in my heart. It may take time but I'm a work in progress. Tonight I will go to Posadas with a different attitude. It won't be with the feeling of seeing friends and supporting Juventud FACETA, another busy night during a busy season where I've got so much to do for the holidays. It will be the family holiday. And I will begin to look forward to it in that spirit. And Solstice at the Longhouse. I won't be showing up at 6 pm to be with Longhouse community of friends. I will go at 11 and sit down and make tamales for the feast talking with the women and girls and men as we sit around big tables for hours, solving the world's problems, remembering old times, laughing and teasing each other. A string of parties up north on I=5 or a clan which went separate ways in America is still real and loved. But, I will be peacefully at home for the holidays. Something to look forward to. Something as predictable as family was to a little girl in Idaho, as predictable as the daylight will become longer every Solstice. Life is good!

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"from Outside the Belly" was also known as "TBAsian" from 2008-2010. Thank you for reading.

from Outside the Monster's Belly

from Outside the Monster's Belly
. . . following Earth instead (Rakaia River, site of Salmon Ceremony, photo credit Ruth Koenig)


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Eugene, Oregon
I am a citizen of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. I am a Nikkei descendant sansei (third generation);retired teacher, involved in the Winnemem tribal responsibility to Water, Salmon, and our belief that the Sacred is our Teacher. Working locally for human rights and supporting youth leadership.