I grew up an only child. My half siblings were 13 – 19 years older and not around much for most of my life. We never lived together sharing the sibling experience. I also never had aunts and uncles, cousins or grandparents around. Most of my life it was just me and mom… except for holidays. My wants and needs got put on the back burner whenever my brothers were around. When they started getting married and having kids I didn’t fit anywhere at the holidays. I wasn’t old enough to be an “adult” in their book and I was way too old to be a kid. I was lost to my mom quoting the story of The Prodigal Son and the fattened cow. We were two separate families forced to share holidays together as a family with no help integrating them at all. I struggled for years to make a place in my family. It never really worked.
How many of you can relate to the holiday conversations about who’s coming to the get together? Yeah. That was my family totally!!! I was the Switzerland sibling who talked to everyone. At least as much as they wanted to participate in my life. I gave up trying eventually. When 3 of the 4 siblings don’t talk to each other at all it’s REALLY hard to plan a holiday. The fighting began in early October. If you invited so-in-so I’m not going. One year my mom thought it was a good idea to lie and get everyone under the same roof. We had the WWIII Christmas that year. No one spoke to anyone for the next 6 months.
Eventually, after more than 20 years, everyone would come and be civil. The typical family battle of whose house and who’s cooking was the norm. I took over Thanksgiving in the early 2000’s. My brother’s ex-wife insisted on “cooking” for Christmas. I’m being generous using the word cooking in the same sentence as that woman. She burned a spiral baked ham into ham jerky every damn year!!! How is that even possible?!
I love to cook!!! Cooking a big holiday meal is a 3 to 4 day process for me to get everything done and on the table hot and pretty at the same time. No dishes afterwards, no drama and a meal to remember. The fights at the table over my refusal to say “grace” because I’m Atheist and should play nice with others to make them happy. Untouched food and pushed away because it’s not the traditional plain-Jane crap from the 1930’s. Showing up to dinner with appetizers wanting to nibble on them and chat almost an hour after I said dinner would be on the table. The tantrum which ensued the year I served Thanksgiving dinner before that part of the family arrived.
People make jokes every year that they moved 3,000 miles away from their family because of the insanity only to make plans and arrangements to be with these same people for the holidays. The next two months are spent bitching about family and the drama and all the horrible tales of bad behavior, hurt feelings and all the rest.
It’s been a long time since I’ve spent a holiday with my family. The last holiday I spent with my family was 2012. I opted to work holidays and spend time in service. Go to holiday events with friends. Take myself to a movie. Ultimately Daddy and I met and came together. WE share our holidays quiet with the two of us.
Holidays are about being happy and with those who love and support you. I have never seen my family more than 3 times a year… two of which are holidays. I’ve come to love the peace of a nice dinner with those I truly love, doing what we enjoy without the stress of all the anticipation and the gossip and hurt feelings afterwards. The exhaustion from all the work put into a day which others don’t really appreciate.
The first couple of years were challenging. Letting go of the idea that I was supposed to be with family doing the big shebang. The hint of loneliness. That quickly wore off as I established my own traditions which bring me joy. I don’t miss big family get togethers at all for anything. Certainly not the holidays when emotions are high and so many people have all these expectations of what it should be.
I’m looking forward to a quiet, romantic Christmas at home with Daddy and the puppies doing what brings us joy. Holidays are just another day to bring joy into our lives. 🙂