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January 2009
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Christmas came and went. Developing in all a taste for simple food and solitude. And a deep gratitude that christmas only happens once a year. Best quote? My brother, which after ending the last piece of panettone on the 25th eve said. Yes! We made it! We survived this 48 hours.

You see, as family situation gets complicated. With the growth of the horizontal family. You get to have xmas with different branches of the family in different times. And you are just left with the gratitude that there are only so many possible meals in 48 hours.

For him the situation was especially hard. He was surviving: massive dinner on the 24th, tough lunch on the 25th, serious dinner on the 25th.

Yes! We made it.


Pietro, my friend, I think I know what you mean. Family gatherings for my clan always end up in meals. Not conversation, or deepening of appreciation for each other, but endless meals for days. I think we use food as a substitute for a great number of things. And so we end up insulating ourselves against each other in the process, giving ourselves leave to not speak again until the next major excuse for a banquet.

It can be difficult when families are, as you say, spread horizontally. Distance does make it hard to keep involved in each others' lives. I feel as though my family in California are on a different planet --- and they feel the same about me. Telephone conversations are strained, and there is much forced laughter.

Yet often the occasions when we gather are major touchstones in my learning. I find out exactly where I have failed by talking to my mother. I find out exactly how cool I am from my nieces and nephews. And my brothers and sister? They shake their heads, immersed in their own lives. I leave with enough fat stored to hibernate (and like you say, embrace solitude and simple food) and the realization that my "family" is more than those who are related by blood, but others, like yourself, who I have chosen to include by my own choice.

It's good to talk to you; I haven't seen your posts for a while. You're looking healthy and content in your latest picture (I think it's in the next post).

To the wise man, every day is a holiday, a reason to celebrate.

Dear John, I am so happy you commented. Yes to all that you said... except:

when I speak of horizontal family I am not referring to geography, but to ... to something else.

My brother, sister, mother, father, grandfather, and cousins, those are my vertical family.

The son of the first marriage, of the third wife of my father, although we have no blood relation, still we might meet on xmas. He is what we call the horizontal family (to me). You go up and down, zigzagging, as relations form and break. Never too high in generations or too low. Thus vaguely horizontal. The poliedric family, where each meeting have different people attending.

I do learn from meeting my relatives. Somehow when I write those posts I need to keep to the bare minimum. Have you ever written a post from a mobile phone? Is like the king (Sargon ?) who asked the wise man to tell him standing on one leg what was the meaning of the sacred texts. He answered: "don't do to other's what you don't want being done to you". That was before A.D., and landed his foot.

As this wise man I am forced to keep to few simple concepts. Except that I am not so good in synthesizing. So I just spoke of the tiredness. Mainly because I feel quite stuck by this general excessive sweetness.

But believe me, it wasn't the only feeling. Nor (on average) the stronger.

P.S. I like your new icon.