The Holiday Tradition No One Wants to Admit To: Regression+comment
By the time you read this, I will be gone. No, not dead. Sorry if I worried you. I will be in Chicago, spending the Christmas holidays with my family. Megan wrote an article about how more and more people are opting to spend the holidays in their adopted hometowns, despite having family in other parts of the country. I greatly admire those people, but I’m not one of them. Each year I pack up the few sweaters that I own and join the mass exodus out of Los Angeles back to the arctic tundra of the Midwest.
I’m not complaining. I love visiting my family. However, a funny thing happens to an adult child that suddenly finds herself back in the nest. You forget that you’re an adult. No matter that you have your own home and your own life and your own dog. At once, you remember that you’re someone’s child. And that can knock the adult right out of you.
This phenomenon isn’t reserved for me alone. I’ve polled several of my friends and we all agree: there’s just something about being at home that can turn a perfectly sane late-twenty, early-thirty something into a raging bundle of teenager.
What is it about being under our parents’ roof that makes us forget the people that we’ve grown in to? It isn’t like I sleep in my childhood bedroom. That’s been turned into a “media room” (my parents watch a lot of HGTV). It isn’t as though my parents don’t see me as an adult. No, this problem is mine and mine alone.
Perhaps part of the problem is becoming a guest in what used to be your house. Suddenly, things aren’t quite as you remember them. They’ve been rearranged or moved. Everything is the same and, yet, it’s completely different.
It can also be difficult to accept that your parents have formed a life without you. You’re their baby and they’ve outgrown you. How can this be? YOU’RE the one that’s supposed to grow and change! You’re supposed to be the one spreading your proverbial wings and flying. And, of course, you are. You have that whole life back in the place that you now call home. You know, that one that you kind of forgot about while you were reliving your childhood and the one that you get to return to as soon as the holidays have passed.
Ultimately, it’s probably a good thing that the holidays only come around once a year. That’s probably about as much as anyone with a devoted family and a questionable psyche can take. The silver lining to the holiday regression cloud that is looming over us? Some day we get to do this to our kids!