I find myself in a strange situation. My parents, who have traditionally been all-things-new suburb dwellers, in contrast to my steadfast midtowniness and love of old houses and independently-owned businesses, have flipped the script on me. It's partially my own doing, too. To make a long story short, after selling their house recently, instead of immediately buying a new one, they moved into the guest house behind a pilot friend's "big house" and are living rent, utility, cable, and phone-bill-free for one year in exchange for my mom babysitting five overnights a month. My parents are now living my college life, but without (let's hope!) some (or, ok, any) of the more sordid details. It was college after all.
One of the strange outcomes of this arrangement is that my maternal family's big Christmas Eve dinner and gift exchange was held at my house this year, for the first time ever. I enjoyed being able to host, especially since I wasn't responsible for the whole dinner, and it rained all day so there was the added bonus of knowing I was not dragging four kids in and out of the minivan all day or listening to Big Daddy bitch about having to drive Way Out To East Jerusalem in the nasty weather. In my 1240 square foot, one-bathroom house, we had my parents, maternal grandmother, aunt and her husband, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew, plus our brood, and it really worked out just fine.
Even though I know that next year my parents will have bought another roomy suburban house and will, in all likelihood, insist on hosting the holiday themselves, I feel like this was a rite of passage. Somehow I never feel quite like an adult in my parents' eyes. I think it's because so many of my lifestyle choices just don't jibe with their idea of adulthood. It's as if they are still hanging on to the hope that I will decide to move to the burbs, start going to church, express regret over my two (very banal) tattoos, get a "perky" haircut, and buy some bejeweled holiday sweaters and tops to be worn in the appropriate seasons. As I approach my mid-thirties, I think they are close to giving up. I hope so. Nevertheless, they seemed cheerful at our gathering, and my Dad even had a few glasses of pinot noir to help the holiday cheer along. I almost felt like I was being a bad influence!