A snapshot of each holiday gathering is like time-lapse photography capturing the evolution of both family members and the family itself. With each new frame, the subjects, and the relationships between the people develop and change. Sometimes the differences between snapshots are dramatic, sometimes subtle.
I reflect upon these changes with the recent family gathering over the holiday. This year, my youngest son, his girlfriend, Chris’s daughter and her boyfriend, join us at the beach. All together under one roof for four wonderful days, this is our first time cohabitating for longer than the time it takes to enjoy a meal together.
What a difference a few months make. I guess you can say Chris and I have been together a “long time” according to the perception of teenagers. When we started dating we were working through the emotional turmoil of separation and divorces. Since then, not only have we worked through that transition, we have also invested time and energy into strengthening our relationship. This upfront effort has paid off to create a smooth, comfortable and companionable partnership that would be apparent in our couples’ portrait.
A more dramatic change would be evident with the picture of the kids. The divorces after our respective 20+ year marriages were understandably traumatic, and being introduced and acclimated to new surrogate families was a big, and not so easy transition. Yet we progressed, within a pretty short timeframe, from “I’m not ready to meet anyone,” to hanging out under one roof as if we’ve been palling around for years.
Frankly my style tends to be to push forward without looking back, but that style does not work for everyone. Sometimes just patience and acceptance is the best way forward, Chris reminds me. Evolution, not revolution. Living in the land of Patrick Henry during Independence Day, I am now channeling my inner Darwin and celebrating changes that are more incremental than dramatic. Viva la difference!