Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Family Christmas

When we announced that we were going to visit Utah during Christmas time it set into motion a chain reaction of events that led to all of my siblings except 1 and Dad to also decide to visit Utah (pretty big feat for 7 out of 11 people to drop in). L. and I had decided to stay with her friend so that we did not have to deal with playing favorites with who we stayed with (blessing/curse... you decide). Anyway, this meant that visiting all of my wife's and my families quite the scheduling nightmare. L. is great at these kind of things and had a whole schedule, and phone list. I admitted up front I was just along for the ride. Every day of the two weeks we were there we visited at least one usually two people. A pretty determined thing with how bad the weather was for the first few days. L. and I had decided to put this trip on the credit card since we didn't know when the next time we would be coming here and living on a student salary does not allow for travel.
I don't mean to vent but whenever you get that many siblings together there are bound to be tempers flaring. I usually do pretty good at staying out of the family politics, in fact I hate how often I have to play the mediator. This trip was just to much. I don't want to dwell, and I am not about to write out the details on a web page but time after time visiting one of my siblings left me mute for lack of anything good to say. I looked forward to the days of visiting L.'s family which is not the norm for me. I came away from this visit with the distinct feeling the best for all those involved is that I should just cut off contact with my family and I would not be missed. I originally decided to not write any more posts here also but later changed my mind (obvious because of this post) and just not posting anymore to my family website. So I guess it is for the best that we are moving across the country.
Sorry for the downer post but the number one reason for these posts is for me.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Being in Utah for December

Since we are moving to New York we figured it would be a good idea to visit any family on the west coast during the break. This meant going to Utah... in the winter. When I lived in Utah 11 years ago there was the worst snow storm in 50 years. When I left Utah (besides never wanting to come back) I felt I had an understanding, I didn't mess with Utah and it would do the same. When we checked the weather before leaving we read a storm was coming in over the Pacific, so we left a day early. As we listened to the radio while driving we heard that half of Portland's power got knocked out by the windstorm. We decided to drive straight through without stopping at our friends and made it to L.'s friends house without incident without snow or ice in sight. However, the next morning the snow hit. You guessed it, worst storm in 11 years. We just bummed around the house for the day and the snow plow was so behind schedule they didn't plow the street until the next day.
When I lived in Utah the culture was "yes, there are other cultures out there, but they are wrong". Now from this trip I really get the sense that there is enough population or something that the culture has changed to "there are no other cultures besides ours". A big step in the wrong direction. The advertising and stores catering to the lifestyle was just over the top (case in point- giant inflated missionary on the roof at the mall). We went to a couple of Christmas services and they all had the same message: Did the people who experienced the first Christmas really know what they were experiencing. The message I got was: "The people who experienced the first Christmas didn't know how significant what they were witnessing was, but we do, (therefore we as a group must be better then the people who experienced the first Christmas)".
With my wife growing up in Utah it was funny to see how L. reacted to everything. She was complaining about all the stuff that I did when I first moved there. It was especially amusing to see her yelling about and at the driving there. My take is that everyone is in a hurry for church or family related matter so in their mind they feel that other drivers will understand if they bend the rules in their favor. Now in New York or Italy I experienced aggressive driving. In Utah is seems more like just driving with blinders on.
One of the fun things that we did while there was to go on an old train ride. It was made up to look like the Polar Express on a trip to the North Pole. Everyone got cookies and hot chocolate and read the story for the 13 mile trip. at the end of the track Santa came on the train and talked to all the kids and handed out sleigh bells while they switched the track around for the trip back. All my nieces and nephews had a blast.