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Notes on the Valley

By Monith Ilavarasan

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About this blog: My parents, brother, and I moved to Pleasanton when I was in the seventh grade. I then graduated from Amador Valley High School, went to college at UC Davis and started out a career in tech. After several years working in large co...  (More)

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Thanksgiving day blues

Uploaded: Nov 30, 2022
My partner’s family takes Thanksgiving very seriously. I’ve been over for a few years now and each year the dinner is great.

This Thanksgiving my partner’s sister, her boyfriend, my dad, and brother were all able to come. My Mom is on an extended trip to India so unfortunately she wasn’t able to make it. In addition, a few neighbors who had recently moved into their neighborhood joined. It was a full table, and everybody had an amazing time.

The holy trifecta of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and turkey have been perfected over decades by her parents. Her dad took charge of the turkey and stuffing while her mom took over the mashed potatoes. The rest of us made various side dishes including my own experimental jalapeño cranberry sauce. The folks who were into the heat slathered it over everything and it worked out alright.

The day itself was amazing, we all enjoyed the delicious food, stories, and company. Afterwards I felt creeping sadness. Many members in this wonderful group of people would soon have to fly back to their far away cities.

These types of get togethers only happen a handful of times a year. Sitting around a home cooked meal surrounded by the people you love gives you the biggest high you can possibly feel. Modern life makes this a luxury and not something you can experience on a regular basis.

The people we love often live so far away and the time we spend with them is packed into such short time frames. There is so much pressure into optimizing each moment spent with each other to make up for all the lost time apart.

This pressure is what I think people talk about when they talk about the stress of the holiday season. Without regular and consistent conversation you often don’t have full context on how to properly communicate with someone. The same conversations you’ve had in the past don’t seem to flow as seamlessly as they once did.

The day left me thinking how my partner and I could build out our web of friends and family in a way that allows for more consistent everyday interactions. It left me thinking about the importance of putting in energy to keep your relationships strong.

I’ve had this strong belief in the past that some relationships have this innate magic that allows them to stay strong no matter what. The truth is, relationships fade away much like muscles atrophy. They weaken if you don’t take the time out of your life to make a concentrated effort of reaching out and keeping up.

I have reflected on how much work is needed to keep relationships strong and it's disappointing to realize that there are friendships I’ve let fade due to a lack of effort.

This Thanksgiving I’m thankful to have gotten clarity on what is really important in my life. I felt a deep happiness in being around people that I cared about. It’s pushed me to reevaluate how I view my life and the frequency of contact I have with my family members and friends. I’m thankful I’m on a phone plan with unlimited minutes as I reckon I’ll be using a few more of those moving forward.
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