Our Thanksgiving trip was truly wonderful. We visited with family in various combinations, talked, laughed, played, ate fabulous food, got caught up on the themes of everyone's lives, and in general had a lot of fun.

I feel tremendously fortunate to enjoy the company of my family so much. I didn't grow up in a particularly happy family, and our current warmth, caring, love - and best of all, like - for each other is something I value more than I can express.

On the drive home, I was thinking about why it's so much fun to see my family now. First, the family has improved a lot with the absences of two people. One is my father, who was a terrible person riddled with serious emotional issues and beset by undiagnosed mental illness. Even though my mother left him when I was a young adult (after decades of marriage horror), and even though I was estranged from him (my choice) for many years, his death brought a huge relief and unburdening for me.

Another addition by subtraction is the absence of a horrible brother-in-law and his even more disgusting family. Getting rid of them was the best present my sister ever gave us.

On the positive side, all my siblings and sibs-in-law are happy with themselves and in good places with their lives. All our marriages (whether legal or common-law) are thriving. This makes for happy times.

The next generation - the ones I always call "the kids" although they are all young adults - is doing really well. The older ones are all exploring and expanding their lives in fascinating ways. There's so much talent in that crew, I wonder how I am related to them. The younger ones are working things through and seem happy, and on secure footing.

My mom, well, she's just great. I've always been super lucky in the mom department.

And all of these are people I like, respect and admire. We really enjoy each other's company. What more could anyone want in a family?

thanks nj 11
the next generation

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