Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving, Families, and all that jazz

El Centro Family Health, my employer, has a dental clinic here in Las Vegas. Unfortunately we have a hard time keeping a dentist and our clinic is temporarily closed until a new torture specialist... I mean dentist can be lured to the banks of the Chicken River. Kudos to our management, though. Instead of laying off the staff until further notice, they are spreading the dental assistants and receptionist around to fill in at other clinics. Today, Theresa went with me to the La Loma clinic.

On our long ride to La Loma (which isn't in the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from the front steps) we spent some time getting to know each other. She asked me where I was from, if I traveled a lot, where my family lived. She has always lived in New Mexico, has only been to California, and her entire, enormous, extended family lives in Las Vegas.

My family is small, we gypsied around till we landed in New Mexico, and I've traveled a fair amount though not as much as I'd like and not as much as many of my friends. I'm considered a bit of an oddity up here, at least among my hispanic friends. I'm a single woman who left her family behind to live in a place where I knew not a soul. Of course, they expect white folks to be a little wierd like that.

I asked Theresa about her holiday plans. She said she has seventeen cousins who all live in town and the family gets together for each of their birthdays. Thats about 1.4 birthday parties a month, not counting the folks that married into the family and their kids. So Thanksgiving dinner is not such a big deal for them as it is for those of us who don't see our nuclear families regularly and may only see our cousins at biennial reunions, if we go.

Theresa is curious about the big wide world but has reservations about wandering out in it for too long. She thinks its because the extended family is a blessing and a curse. They love and support you so well that you don't really know if you can make it without them. And so sometimes you don't try.

I'm headed down to Albuquerque for Thanksgiving. Both my brothers will be there with their families. My sister-in-law's family will probably be there too. In my family, at least my father's branch of it, we're independent to the point that my brothers and I often don't see each other for months at a time (though my brother Josh lives 90 minutes away) and I'm not sure of the last time I spoke to my youngest brother Aaron. My father is staying in town for Thanksgiving for the first time since 2003 and that's just because their dog is dying and my father's health isn't stable. Otherwise they'd probably be in Mexico again, eating fish tacos instead of turkey.

We love each other very much but support is rather loose. There's definitely no pressure to stay put. In fact, my father and stepmother strongly suggested that I leave New Mexico after graduating from PA school. Maybe I will, later. For now, my debts are getting paid and I'm recovering from a lifetime of tough lessons.

Anyway, I was hoping for a strong ending to this post, but I'm sort of wandering and am not sure if I'm getting anywhere. So, au revoir... I've got to cut up the bread for the stuffing.

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