A move that strengthened, not severed, family ties

Note: This column appears in the 2/4 issue of The Glendale Star and the 2/5 issue of the Peoria Times

My wife and I made the decision to move here to Arizona on our own volition. The hardest part of the decision –- in fact, the only “con” on our list -– was saying goodbye to our family.

I never found it necessary to describe how close we are to our family until I realized that our bond seems, at times, abnormal when compared to others. As an example, my younger sister is married to my wife’s younger brother (legal in only 48 states, of which New Jersey is one). And when I say family I include not only parents, siblings, and in-laws, but also aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins-in-law, and lifelong family friends. And when I say close I mean that we all legitimately enjoy and prefer each other’s company. I’ll like, hang out with my uncle. My mother-in-law will have lunch with my aunt. Our wedding party alone consisted of twenty people. Considering that many simply tolerate family, we are, I suppose, abnormal indeed.

So it was difficult to leave that behind. Of course, we secretly hoped that at least a few would follow us out here. Nary a phone call home went without a casual mention of the weather here, or how we just returned home from a spring training game, or -– less subtle in the context of a normal conversation -– what we pay in property taxes.

But the decision to move here was ours and ours alone, and who were we to expect others to even make an annual visit here, much less start a new life. No one was happy to see us go, and I have to believe that some, if not most families would rather hold firm to spite, and simply await our humbled return. That is why I’m so thankful that we don’t belong to most families.

A few months back my in-laws purchased a home near us. They won’t be so much “snowbirds” as just “here when they can be.” And they were here, for virtually the entire month of January, and their new home allowed others to be here too.

Over the span of the past month Arizona has hosted my mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, other brother-in-law and his girlfriend, my own mom, and several very good family friends. Some of them experienced a cross-country road trip in the midst of horrendous weather. Most of them took considerable time off of work. All of them got to meet our hopefully-soon-to-be-daughter, who may have just provided a little more motivation for them to come back soon.

So what did we do for a month? A bunch of us went to the Cardinals-Packers game, which was the greatest game any of us had ever witnessed in person. Some of us ran in the Rock & Roll Half-Marathon because, why not? We wined and dined, golfed, shopped and enjoyed every second of it. All because I happen to belong to a family that would rather be with us than be content missing us.

I think about our “pipe dream” of having family follow us out here whenever I drive past my in-laws’ new house. I’m feeling pretty blessed these days. I can only hope that your family is as abnormal as ours.


Anonymous said…
Mike, we love you & yes family is very very important. We so enjoyed our visit & look forward to the times we can all be together whether east or west coast.
Anthony P. said…
very well said. best month i've had in a longgggg time.
Judy said…
I never thought I'd be looking forward to January each year so much! I love our new "family tradition"