I've never been able to understand those people who dread the holidays. They all have the same reason - their families are mess up somehow and they hated the tension or outright fighting that occurred when everyone got together for their mandatory merry-making. It was never like that in my family; everyone looked forward to spending time together. In fact Christmas lasts for three whole days in my family, during which we do totally Norman Rockwell things like sit down and watch a movie as a family or sit around the dining room table playing a board game or collectively building a jigsaw puzzle.
But for two years running now, the holidays have kicked off with some event that makes me dread the coming months.
I logged on this evening to try and post a MySpace comment for a newly minted 22 year old I am friends with (however, MySpace is being a bitch tonight, so Heather, I hope you're having fun in Virginia), and I came across a very long comment on Bizzybiz from my uncle to a post I wrote over a year ago. I would never even have seen it if I didn't have all my comments e-mailed to me. The comment was made to a long-winded angry treatise I wrote about a conversation I had with my aunt last year.
I'm not really sure how to address this. I wrote the post in anger over a year ago. It's not really how I feel now, and truthfully not even how I felt the following week. I actually feel like it's been a really good year as far as my aunt and I are concerned. The few times we talked were pleasant, I was always pleased to get her e-mails, and was looking forward to going on vacation with them next May. But my aunt and uncle are in a different place. They feel as though this was yesterday, because for them it was.
It wasn't my intention to hurt my aunt - I wrote it and got it out of my system. That's what a journal is for. I actually love my aunt (and my uncle) very much. For the record here's a little background on my aunt:
My aunt came into this family long before I did when she married my mother's brother. Since that time, she has done more to see to the welfare of this family than any "blood" relative I can think of, most especially me. I am very adept at shirking any family responsibility which could potentially be emotionally taxing for me. She raised two amazing sons who are both brilliant and well-adjusted, and who both outperform me entirely in intelligence and maturity.
However, she is also relentless in her quest to help out. She means well, but it's not an approach that has ever worked well with my personality.
For much of my memory I have had the feeling that I am a major disappointment to my family. I've consistently failed at every turn to live up to what my family wanted for me. This always becomes strikingly apparent after those types of conversations with my aunt. To her credit, it's because she's generally the only one who is ever upfront with me about what she thinks. Nevertheless, it always has the effect of making me extremely uncomfortable. I can't think of anything more painful. And sometimes I feel like I could drown in the guilt I have for dreading picking up the phone for fear of having to have one of those conversations. But it is what it is.
My uncle ended his comment with a kind of "ball is in your court" message. For sure, I have been an exceptionally lousy niece; I can't deny that. But I also know I can't pretend to be someone I'm not. I've tried it, and it was totally transparent to everyone. Part of my move to Chicago in fact was for me to stop doing that. And part of that is just what my uncle said, the don't get close to me signs are there. I am happiest when I work through my problems alone.
My uncle questioned whether it was worth the exhausting effort to continue to try. I'm not sure, but i think it was meant as a challenge: would I try to be more accessible, or will it always be a one way street? With sad but brutal honesty I think the answer is no. You're not going to find anything in me that will justify your efforts. I'm never going to be the niece or daughter that lives her life and makes decisions you can be proud of. I think our value systems stand in too much contrast for that.
It's a bizarre feeling to adore your family and at the same time know that you'll never fit in with them the way you or any of them wishes you would.
I spoke to Fish and to the bartender before Halloween and told them that I didn't feel like going home to Cleveland for Christmas this year. It just seemed like it would be depressing: half the family missing, no Boxing Day and a rudimentary Christmas Eve to accommodate what I understand is some major kitchen remodeling. (Also, because I'm totally insane, I feel guilty about leaving Kristen alone on her birthday, as if she even knows when her birthday is.) I think now that I was right about that instinct, and it looks like most likely I'll be Christmasing in Chicago this year.
I'm not even sure of what my original point was here. I'm quite sure this post can't do anything except make the situation worse. But it's my journal so I get to determine the content. Anyway, I'm sorry I hurt everyone's feelings; it seems to be something I excel at.
Everybody enjoy your families this Thanksgiving. Eat lots of turkey and get fat so I don't feel like the only one.
I now return you to your regularly scheduled jocular fare.