Novak (novak) wrote,

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Personal: Thanksgiving with the Sweeney clan.

amea just made me think of some things as I saw her journal entry from this evening, and so I found myself replying:
I agree, though, with the general problem: I'm amazed at how much of my own life has faded away from me and into general impressions--months and years that are now only "general impressions!"--and I'm grateful that the LJ has gotten me in the habit of journaling again, because it's the journaled years that I remember. Or rather, it's the journaled things that I remember. Or even--eek!--what I've journaled becomes my memories!

My own life is of great fascination to me, and I was saying something about this to my uncle after dinner tonight, how as an historian I bring that kind of focus to the observing of my own life, that my own experience of my life is important in helping me as I try to reconstruct the lives of others, for my own life is my basis of comparison for what life is.

I've come to take greater and greater comfort that my history--my past and all the memories I can't remember--are entrusted to God, and in some way I believe are kept safe for me. In fact, in some way, through the mysteries of redemption, they're even made better than I yet know.

It's a sweet thing, life is, Jenny. Thanks for reminding me of that tonight, in a different, "sideways" fashion. And I pray that you can journal with more joy than fear.
Thanksgiving was pretty quietly grand this year, the only tragedies being my parents: Mom couldn't make it because she had to work this holiday--not unusual in health care--and Dad was sick and suffering at home from what might be a burst blood vessel in his nose, which has kept him from getting hardly any sleep from the last few days.

As usual, it was all too short: I had perhaps one percent of the conversation that my brother and I were capable of having. I really have got to get down to Kentucky to visit him and Daniele and to see this house they bought, and just be able to have the time to talk about Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams, The New Teen Titans, mutual intestinal drama, home restoration, and all the not-terribly-important things that we would want to talk about at leisure and length. And to get to know Daniele even better in those parts where she'd want to join in with us, in where she would take the conversation herself, and in her silences.

The nieces were so overwhelmed by all the people that they would barely let go of Mommy, so I got less raw cuteness than I would have preferred, but I'm an addict and know no restraint with them, anyway. Haley did warm up a bit later on in blowing raspberries with me, and Grace chattered a bit about colours as she looked at my cousins' pictures from their summer Ireland trip on the computer.

Again this year, I spent some time with my cousin who has been a decades-long victim of schizophrenia. She is just a few years older than me, and so I have early childhood memories of having really taken a shine to her from when I was three, and she's very affectionate toward me in recent years and very excited about what I've been able to do with my life. On the flipside, I'm always heartbroken talking to her and at a loss to imagine life with the struggles and limitations that she's endured. My own illness quickly fades into the background as "merely physical" when we spend time together. The temptation, I suppose might be the right word, is to always mourn an illusion of "what might have been" in terms of intellectual and social capacities, and to fail to see wealth of her kindness and affection. It's hard talking with her at times because our lives don't intersect in so many ways. I'm ashamed when I realize that tendency and limitation in myself toward her, because there's so much in which our lives do intersect: there are things that make us happy and sad, that we think are right or wrong, that we can speak of music and friendship and how cute all these little nieces and cousins running around are. I spend time with her and find out how limited I am.

I scored big points with my cousin Becca by showing her on the computer what software she could download so that she could get a Torrent file of the episode of Lost that they all missed watching last night. Aunt Helen's brother Chuck, a public defender who is still back down in North Carolina (they grew up on the campus of North Carolina State where their father was Chancellor for some years) and his wife Patsy, a long-standing educational administrator for the state, who together are a cool and classy "power couple" but the in the most open and gracious way, arrived in town last night and went out to eat, forgetting about this show they all are enthusiastic about. (After I missed the first episode, I've never watched it, despite all the interesting-sounding reports about it. I'll just watch it on DVD someday, I figured.) So after everyone else had left for home tonight, I stuck around for a while longer and got Becca, Helen, Patsy and Chuck started, gathered around the iMac G5 to watch their episode. My stock definitely went through the roof for having arranged that: I wish there'd been some way to buy more before I made my announcement.

The triumph of the night was winning the annual family Euchre tournament. I play well, but have never done anything but lousy during the Thanksgiving gathering for some reason. But the fanatic students at St. Joe's back in South Bend had given me much practice and tonight I played several fine games. But I didn't get to triumph in front of my Mom, which would have been the icing on the cake. And the truth of the matter was I tied for first with my Aunts Pat and Kay, but only because they managed to get an unheard-of 14 points playing against the abysmally-awful team of Helen and Chuck. So the post got split three ways instead of me walking off with everyone's cash.

And that's a Sweeney-clan Thanksgiving.
Tags: family, food, grace, haley, personal, writing

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