Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday Emo Thoughts

Little things keep happening to remind me of how things change as you get older. Today is the last day of my Christmas visit home. Today is my fifth day away from New York City. It feels as if I have been away for an indulgently long period of time, and yet, I only took two days off from work. The other three days were a national holiday (a real national holiday, not one of those like Columbus Day when a lot of people go to work anyway), and a two-day weekend. Its funny how, once you get into the habit of working long week days and sunday afternoons, a couple of days off feels like an unimaginable luxury. Tomorrow I will be back at work, and probably put in a pretty long day, and before too long this vacation will seem like a distant memory.

Related to the first story, I am beginning to realize that it is important to get some physical distance from your office from time to time. When I am at home, and the office is a relatively short commute away, it always feels as if I could go to the office if I choose to, and, because of that, it is sometimes hard to relax because you know that there is always more work you could be doing, if you were only at the office. Being hundreds of miles away, you don't really have a choice other than to make the most of your time away and wait until you get back to the city to get back to work. A change of scenery is good for you in more ways than one.

Growing up, I knew that I lived in a nice single-family house, and had parents that loved me, but I didn't appreciate how lucky I was in the big scheme of things. I have become more and more appreciative over the years, as I have learned more and more about the world around me, and been exposed to more people with backgrounds different than mine. Having spent the past few years in a series of small New York apartments, and having spent the past few days in spacious north Buffalo houses, I amazed by several things - by the space and quiet I took for granted growing up, for the large meals we always shared with our extended family at the holidays, and for the way that our parents were somehow able to manage the demands of raising children with those of demanding jobs that paid them the salaries it took to live lifestyles like our own. I'm at the beginning of my professional career, working a public interest job in an expensive city, and I find it amazing that for more than twenty years I took for granted the accomplishments of people like my parents and my friends' parents, who have led good and charitable lives while balancing so many competing demands. Being an adult is hard, and my parents have pulled it off with extraordinary grace. This holiday season, I am thankful for that.

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