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How close?

Published February 13. 2010 09:00AM

When we decided to move to South Carolina from Pennsylvania, everyone asked us "Why?" The answers were many and varied-

We hated the Pocono Mountain winters.

I wanted to live where my Dad had lived as a young man.

With family in PA and in FL, we would be about halfway between.

The appeal of living near the beach was strong.

We were excited about a new home, new area, and new adventures.

After almost 12 years in South Carolina, those reasons are all still valid.

We love the winters. Snow and ice are nonexistent. Flowers bloom in January.

We have discovered Wells Family members that we never knew we had.

We have become a natural "stopping-off" place for PA and FL visitors and family.

Being near the beach is a blessing.

Our home is comfortable, our area has everything we could ever want, and we have adventures all the time.

So, our move was a good one. Right? Well, almost.

As we get older, the pull of being near family has become stronger. It's not quite good enough to be 11 hours away from one set of family and 8 hours from the other. We are forced to make our trips lengthy ones in order to have a good visit.

What is the answer? Perhaps exploring the "How close? How far?" syndrome can help us.

Some families live in the same house. Some live on different continents. How close is too close and how far is too far? In my opinion, every family needs its own house. One of the rules of life is that you can close your front door and enjoy your own life. When your family lives right in your house, that's impossible. If they live next door or down the street, it can work fine.

Families who live next door or down the street from each other are lucky in some respects. They can see each other any darn time they want. They can share each other's special events and contact each other about daily occurrences. Mothers and daughters can go shopping and cook together. Dads and sons can help each other with home projects. Cousins can play together. Families who can share this togetherness are lucky.

That is, they are lucky if everything goes well. However, there's an old saying- "Familiarity breeds contempt." Sometimes, people who live in close proximity to relatives don't get along with them. When you see and hear too much, hard feelings can follow. Arguing and fighting can erode the family structure. Children can fight over a toy and their mothers can expand that fight and create a bigger, more disastrous family argument.

On the other hand, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is another old saying. When we are away from loved ones, we appreciate them more. When we see our relatives only two or three times a year, the visits become more special and aren't usually marred by petty arguments.

So - how close is too close and how far is too far? There is not a "one size fits all" answer to that. For some families, right next door is perfect. For me, 8 and 11 hours are too far. There must be a happy medium.


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