Thanksgiving - Reconnecting with family

Thanksgiving is coming up soon, and I have a lot to be thankful for this year.
I had a healthy pregnancy and gave birth naturally to my beautiful daughter Chinami. 
I was able to come back to Hawaii and reconnect with a lot of friends and make many new ones as well. 
And most of all, I feel thankful that I have a loving family who cares about me. 
No, not them. 
When I was with my "parents" for last Thanksgiving, I also saw the other part of my family, whom I hadn't seen in over 10 years. It was the part of the family that wasn't related to my "mother"; my paternal grandparents, my aunt, uncle, and three cousins.
Since we lived abroad when I was a child I almost never got to see them, and when we moved back to America I saw them from time to time, as they lived in the same small town as we did.

My grandmother would take me to high school football games, along with my aunt and cousin who was just a baby then. I was in middle school at the time and would be going to that high school in the following years, and it was the same high school my "father" and his siblings went to, and the same school my oldest cousin is going to now. She enjoyed sharing this legacy and history with me. She would also take me to the museum, carnivals, the mall, church (not to force me, but because I enjoyed playing with the other children and singing in Sunday School) and I would stay over her house sometimes. 

My grandfather was one of the original computer nerds, and taught me a lot about computers (in those days, we still used 5-inch floppy disks and Windows 3.1, and MS-DOS) He had also served in the military and was stationed in Japan, and gave me some of his old mementos when I started to become interested in Japanese culture.

Years later, my aunt found me on Facebook and I saw that I now had 2 more cousins, and my oldest cousin was starting high school. My aunt and uncle would message me, and I was unsure how to handle it after all those years. 

The reason I was unsure was because of all the things my "mother" would tell me about them. She accused them of using her for her money, she ridiculed them and called them horrible, degrading names in front of me (things I will not write here as I do not want to hurt their feelings,) and basically convinced me that they were some kind of malignant, abnormal people. When I told them I wanted to go visit my family, I was warned not to. I'm glad I followed my heart, and did the right thing.

After my "parents" left to spend Christmas and New Year's in the Caribbean and left us to house-sit (despite the fact that it was the first holidays we could spend together in over five years) Yasushi and I went over to have lunch with my family. I made some cupcakes and brought them over, and they had cold-cut trays and lots of yummy desserts, and spent the day asking us questions, talking with us, and making us feel welcome. We played games with my cousins, I helped my aunt with her computer, and we all had a great time. My husband commented that they seemed like a normal, Christian family, and were very kind-hearted, and I agreed.

Now that I have looked into my past, I can now fully appreciate how normal they are. No one launched into loud, rambling stories and demanded that you listen to them no matter how long they kept talking, no one lectured us on how our choices, hobbies, and lifestyle were wrong and tried to force us into something else, no one called us degrading names, and they would listen to us. The three children seemed comfortable and happy, no one was screamed at, insulted, or invalidated.

I can remember now that my grandparents were the only ones who validated my feelings when I was in middle school. They always listened to me, remembered things about me, showed me they cared about who I was, and never tried to force me to do something I didn't want to do, or be someone I wasn't. That was the thing I needed most at that fragile point in my development, and something I was not getting at home.

And even now, the way they treat me and Yasushi really shows how much they care. When they found out I was pregnant, they asked me how I was, and that they wanted to send me something for the baby. When I told them I didn't need much, and would appreciate if they would just send me any used items or hand-me-downs, they sent me precious family heirlooms that were used by my grandparents, their children's baby blankets, hand-sewn items that were passed down in the family, and a used breast pump, because they knew I was breastfeeding. Most importantly, there was no Facebook announcement about how THEY were becoming great-grandparents/aunts/uncles, no posts with pictures of the things they bought for THEIR grand-baby, there was no waving money around in a big fanfare that was still centered around themselves. It was just pure sentiments and love.

I am very glad I reconnected with all of them, and my husband was able to meet them before we moved to Hawaii. But also, I am very sad at all the years lost between us, and how far apart we are now. But as long as they are in Pennsylvania, I can say that I may think of going back to see my family some day.












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