Monday, December 15, 2008

When the Holidays get Heavy

This is my final gust poster, Crazy Loves Company. Her baby was due the same day as mine. Neither arrived promptly. Go check her out! Hopefully she's posted some photos of her little one by now.

My first guest post. Jenni is a brave woman on two fronts. She thought I'd come up with something entertaining for her readers, and she is betting that she has her baby before I have mine. Well Oscarelli readers, I'll do my best.

My family always took in the "stragglers" as we called them, for the holidays. Friends from college who were far from home. Friends left alone for whatever reason. Friends that were just in town that we haven't seen in 5 years... it didn't matter. Mom and dad always made everyone feel comfortable to have a bite to eat and hang out.

This Thanksgiving, husband and I were the stragglers and we celebrated with friends since both husband and I are without family nearby. There were 8 of us and we had an awesome time. Great food and even better conversation and company. The cast of characters included:

  • husband and me
  • our good friends, recently married, who were the hosts; we'll call them Kevin and Sara
  • the mom and sister of Kevin who both came from New England
  • 2 guys, friends of the married couple. Ed from Texas - I don't remember what he does for a living, and Alex, who came to America from Russia when he was 20, 20 years ago, an anesthesiologist who was on call that night. Their wives took the kids to visit family and left the husbands to fend for themselves. You know that can't be good.

    At first it was just the 6 of us, the guys were running late. While Kevin and Sara were finishing up in the kitchen I went to talk to the mom and sister. Both were super nice, but I had a hard time making conversation with the sister. She had to be in her late 20's and was nice enough, but we had nothing in common. I was struggling for conversation and could not be less interested in the football game playing in the corner. But at the same time I could not make myself get up from the director's chair I chose to sit in. It was either that or the couch and I know it would have taken at least one person to pull me up if I had planted myself there. God a vodka tonic would have been wonderful! Finally husband came into the room and the conversation flowed a little easier. I envy his ability to hold a conversation with anyone, anytime.

    The mom was pretty soft-spoken but we had this whole pregnancy thing to discuss. You know what I'm talking about moms. How are you feeling? Is it a girl or a boy? Oh, you're not finding out? How unusual. Why not? Are you working? Are you going back to work? Do you plan to nurse? Be prepared, it doesn't work for everyone. Let me tell you about my 72 hour labor with my first child and my unscheduled C-section with my second and all the horror I had to go through and then the nursing, OMG. At about this point I had to pee.

    I wander into the kitchen to help by sampling everything and we chat. Things are great, Kevin and Sara really are one of my favorite couples here, they've been such great friends to us.

    We sit down for dinner and the 2 guys arrive shortly thereafter, but not before I have to pee. I love good conversation, not just the 'how's the weather... weekend plans...' kind of conversations that are fine, but lets discuss something we all have an opinion on, whether we share or not. You have to get a picture of Alex in your head. He's dressed very European and reminds me of a Russian Billy Crystal in his speech and mannerisms. Got that?

    We are talking about the election, and we're clearly in the pro-Obama majority but it's not unanimous. We talk about promises made and that no one expects everything to be put into effect, clearly there are high hopes and expectations for the coming years. And then we get around to gun control. It becomes clear that Alex and the rest of us at the table have very different frames of reference. When Alex and I were talking we agreed that there should be stricter controls and laws. The difference is he owns a gun, and would never not own one, and I would never own a gun or have one in our house. It's a deal breaker. My rationale, however flawed, is that I understand if bad people want to get weapons, they will, whether legal or not. However, I don't believe I have ever heard a report about a burglar or murderer being shot by someone who owned a gun. What I do hear are the stories about the child that found a gun and accidently shot himself or someone else. Or the stories where an adult gets their gun and shoots someone, who turned out not to be a burglar. I know, there are safeties on most weapons, you can keep them in locked boxes, the ammunition in a separate place, training ....... all of that. But the possibility of an accident is too great for me.

    Here is where it gets interesting. One of my few personal gun related anecdotes takes place when I was in high school. Some friends and I were at a friends house and he says, look what my dad has. Classic right? He pulls a handgun out of a closet somewhere and shows us. He says it's not loaded. He's showing everyone and waving it around. He hands it to a friend and what happens? A shot goes off and shoots out the window. People, we're in suburbia in a middle class neighborhood. Everyone practically wets themselves and they guys scramble to replace the window glass. I freak out and go home.

    Alex's personal anecdote is this: He was in the USSR until he was 20 years old. When he was 12 years old, in the 1980s, all of the kids went through drills that included putting on a gas mask and then assembling and dis-assembling an AK-47. They did this all through high school to prepare for the imminent threat of war. He never felt safe as a kid growing up, people fought all the time and there was a lot of general violence. Now being in the U.S. for 20 years his neighborhood is 'up and coming', and his home has been broken into twice in 4 years. Now, I would move out of this neighborhood, probably wouldn't have chosen it to begin with, but it's where he and his family live. He is close to the hospital he works in and it's close to his wife's job as well. He feels that with a weapon at home, safety on, locked away, and an imposing dog, his family is much safer than without.

    I don't mean this to be a post about gun laws. More about perspective, frame of reference. This man grew up preparing for war when he was 12. They didn't know any differently. My background is so different, it's almost impossible for me to even imagine thinking like that.

    So, this holiday season when you find yourself talking with family, friends and stragglers, enjoy the conversation. Ask questions. We don't all have the same history.


Casey said...

Very strange.. I used to date a guy who slept with a gun under his pillow. He was raised in the middle of nowhere and when he moved to the city, he had his car broken into twice in a month. I made him get rid of the gun, it freaked me out... I hope you crazy kids both have your crazy kids soon...

Sarah's Blogtastic Adventures said...

My fear would be having a gun in my hand trying to scare the bad guy in my home, he takes it and shoots me instead, since I can barely chop an onion without cutting myself. To each his own. Thats why this country is so great! Good luck with the little babies to both of you. I may have to stop reading after that for fear that I will want another! : )

Kat said...

I never grew up with a gun in my home, but I support peoples rights to do so if they choose.