Monday, December 20, 2010
I spent the last couple of days visiting a rather nutty aunt of mine in Oceanside. She came to greet me wearing a light up Christmas tree hat. Typical, I thought. We spent the better part of the weekend discussing family stories, and ours has more than its fair share of oddities. Whether it's the great uncle who convinced his cardiologists to do a different surgery in order to keep his hunting arm (we're from Western Pennsylvania... hunting is a big deal), the aunt who got married in a 18ft tepee in Yellowstone National Park, the grandmother with the chronic card playing habit that paid off in Las Vegas, or the cousins who served moonshine at the Thanksgiving dinner, my family has enough eccentric stories to fill at least three seasons of a TV sitcom.
I'm getting to the point in my life where I'm embracing the weird. Some of the endless bizarre stories can be repulsive, but above all they make me laugh. Despite all the crass personalities that often clash in my family, we are never short on laughter.
I'm looking forward to going home and spending time with the family, ridiculous though they may be, but I've been thinking a lot about my students at the same time. Some of them come from pretty broken families, whether due to drugs and violence, to immigration laws, or to poverty. Many of my kids are going to Mexico for the holidays to see family that hasn't yet met immigration qualifications. One girl told me she's worried that she won't be able to come back. Their stories break my heart. I don't know how to fix these problems, or where really even to begin. I guess the best thought that I have for the moment is just to remember to be grateful for the ability to spend time with my family (barring any huge weather mishaps and flight delays) because I know there are many people who are not so lucky.