More and more these days, I deeply feel that life is short, and family is so very precious. Yes, we may not all get along all the time, but in the end, family is really all you've got- and sometimes, good long standing friends fall into that category, but not always... In any case, if you have persons you love, you need to show it. You need to show it by putting them before yourself.
Every holiday now for almost 30 years, I have worked all the holidays- Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, Easter, well, maybe not every day, but 99% of them. Working with animals, you don't get holidays. They need to eat/be cleaned on schedule. However, I ALWAYS make sure that I am with my family on the holidays, thankfully we eat at normal dinner time. Anyway, I am usually beat, but I make it there. This year, I really could just skip it, but as I sit in the recliner watching all that goes on- nephews chatting, opening presents, mom talking to sister, dad chatting about the various work he's been doing, I sort of revel in it, at first, it was contrived- this revelling, but now, I truly see that this will not be forever. My parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and have been starting to show their age a bit, and things are going to wind down, I know it.
I made a post on FB on Thanksgiving that I was going to skip Thanksgiving (I was just venting, as it was an exhausting day at work) and my brother relayed that to my mother, who called me several times, very upset. I told her I wouldn't miss it, and I was just venting. She said "Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without you". See? Everyone in the family is cherished- even me, the sink (single no kids) person. Holidays are more than just us taking time away from our lives to celebrate a holiday, it's a chance to spend time with the ones you love, and realize just how important they are.
I know all about the difficulties of trying to take care of animals, and go away for holidays. I have always figured it out. If I had family that was say, 4-5 hours away, I would get to work early, get it done, stop home, get my stuff and head the heck out for the holidays - have a friend take care of my animals, and be home the next day. It's really not that hard. I cannot imagine what my family would think of me if I chose to stay home to take care of my animals. And I am ALL ABOUT animals, it's who I am, it's what I do; it's breathing to me. That said, my family comes first.
I am not here to judge anyone, but I do hope that people who read this take time this holiday season to remember that you going to holiday functions with family is more than about you, it's about the WHOLE family being together and SO MANY cannot do it, and wish every day they could.