One night this week we had a rare but beautiful evening. I have lived in York for two years now - in my own place, living a very self-sufficient life, generally keeping family contact to a minimum, not because I don't want them around but simply because everybody lives very diverse and busy lives. Plus, my mother's message of 'go forth into the world and be' was very much one which held no bounds in encouraging self-sufficiency, responsibility, resilience, and independence. As a result, there remains one small box of my childhood 'treasures' in the attic at my Mum's house and consequently I've developed very thick skin which has served a great purpose in all areas of life. In addition, I have to admit it's been indescribably empowering, if not a little daunting to establish my own way of living without the additional pressures and familiarities of such close relatives constantly being present. I have, without a doubt begun expanding my life in the ways I wish to.
Anyway, I digress. One evening this week I hosted dinner for my mother, my sister, and my Nan (who has been in Yorkshire visiting from Kent). I say this was a rare occasion because in two years this is the first time we've ever done this. My Nan rarely visits the North, my Mother has visited me three times in two years (including this week), and me making dinner for others is a rarity in itself due to my unhealthy health obsession and my inability to define a 'normal' portion or substantial meal for that matter! So I'm writing about it because it seems like these days it's not only rare for my family and I to get together like this, but it seems rare for families to really enjoy time spent together at all. There was no fake happiness or uncomfortable conversation. It simply was as it was. It was genuine and it was lovely. There was a lot of love. We ate the fresh food that I'd prepared (they were very appreciative and complementary of my cooking), drank wine, and sat in the candlelit garden until late evening by which time my poor grandmother must have been so tired she probably could have quite easily fallen asleep there and then if I poured her another glass of wine.
I remember writing a year or so ago that families are odd units, joined by the wonders of science and genetics, living in a house together, our first human contact being each other... Loving and hating and everything inbetween. There's an unspoken bond or code between family members but it's still up to us how we act upon that definitive bond. We form relationships that hopefully work for us and function in some way or another; creating as much distance as humanly possible or sharing the same lives for years on end. I had written that families are odd concepts; they have the power to both build us and break us. However, what I failed to write, was that ultimately that power is in our hands. We call the shots. No one can determine our choices and responses but ourselves. Families do build us and break us apart, but whether we let them - that's up to us. I choose to let people build me.
So what I'm saying is that this evening was special. Maybe I'm valuing family in a different way now I'm a little older. Or maybe I'm just finally learning the art of allowing the moment to be enjoyed.