Surrogate family syndrome
It's Thanksgiving in the US. It's just another evening in London. But I feel the pull and the need to celebrate all the same.
I called my mom and asked where she was spending this evening. She said she's been invited to dinner. I then started my usual complaint of how we're all over the world and how difficult it is to get together for a family reunion.
She reminded me, "Anne, most people at your age have families of their own. They don't have a need to have family reunions with their parents or siblings."
Unfulfilled by our phone call, I called my brother and woke him from his lazy slumber. I repeated the same story.
"Why don't you visit me?"
"I don't have time. I'm too busy."
"Well, I've got time. Can I stay with you for a month?"
"I told you. I don't have time. No, you can't stay for a month."
"Where are you spending Thanksgiving?"
"Where I've always spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and other holidays: with my friends' families. I've just been made a godfather to my friend's son."
He then reminded me, as my mother had done, "Most people have kids. They don't think about spending their Thanksgiving or Christmas with their parents or siblings."
He added, "The older you get, the fewer single friends you'll have."
"That's not true," I retorted. "I made a list of all the single and attached female friends. And you know what? the singles list is as long as the attached list. I did the same for male friends - and it's also equally long."
My brother replied, "Yeah. Just watch the singles list get shorter as time goes on. Unlike other people I know, you seem to get stuck in one place - you just want to get to know more single people you can hang out with, without any desire to find the one person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Will you ever get there?"
"What's wrong with meeting lots of interesting, single people who are perfectly happy living on their own?"
What's wrong with this is that you will continue to feel homesick and familysick at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The remedy is to borrow someone else's family at such times. I call it the "surrogate family syndrome."
28 November 2002 Thursday
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