Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Avoiding Thanksgiving drama...

A few months ago, my mom asked Bill and me to go to my parents' home in Virginia for Thanksgiving.  I swore off family holiday gatherings years ago for reasons I won't rehash in today's post.  Suffice to say that I find holidays stressful, especially when I'm forced to spend them with my family of origin.

When my mom asked me to come home for Thanksgiving, I felt kind of guilty and obligated.  I told her I'd think about it.  Then I went to look up plane fares from Texas and found that going home for Thanksgiving would be very expensive.  It's not that Bill and I couldn't do it… it's just that it would be a lot of money spent on a gathering that, at least in the past, hasn't historically gone well.

I spoke to my mom yesterday and she was in relatively good spirits.  I was relieved, since I never know how my mom is going to be when I call her.  Sometimes she's happy to hear from me and other times, she's rather bitchy and doesn't want to talk.  I can usually tell by the tone of her voice.  Anyway, we had a nice chat and she told me who was going to be in attendance for the holiday.

All three of my sisters will be there with their kids in tow.  One sister has an adult daughter and teen son, as well as an obnoxious husband who seems to enjoy watching dramas unfold.  I've heard him go into gossip mode and watched him pull Bill aside for a play by play of the action.  My niece is bringing her boyfriend.  God help him is all I can say.

Another sister is single, but is bringing a boyfriend who apparently caused her a lot of heartache in the past.  They are apparently on good terms now, but something tells me that in the stressful environment they are about to enter, that peace may not last long.  This particular sister has a bit of a hair trigger temper and is easily offended.  When's she's offended or upset, she has a tendency to say very cruel things and/or throw temper tantrums.

The third sister is one who, for many years, seemed to have a fantasy that our family could become close and loving.  She often tries to organize gatherings, but then when people get together, tries to tell them how to behave.  It was this sister who sparked a fight with me at the last gathering I attended in 2003.  She has a history of telling me that my feelings and perceptions are "wrong" or that I'm too sensitive.  I may be too sensitive, but I come by those sensitive feelings honestly.  And after growing up being told I have no right to express myself or be who I am, I have a hard time accepting that now that I'm an adult and have been through years of therapy.  This sister has a husband and one son that I haven't seen in years because they live in Minnesota.  My mom brought up the fact that the lad has mentioned his mystery aunt who hasn't seen him since he was a tot.

Adding to the mix is my mom's best friend, who the last time I saw her, insulted Bill at our dinner table.  I got really pissed because she shamed him in my parents' home and treated us like we were wayward guests instead of family members.  I defended him in a way that made her slink out of our house early.

Mom also told me that my dad's dementia has gotten worse and he may not be able to sit at the table.  He has to be fed now and this gathering may prove to be overwhelming for him.  As it is now, he's usually asleep by 6:15pm.

Add in the fact that I, too, have a big mouth and a bit of a temper.  I also like my wine.  I just think it would be a mistake to gather for this holiday… or most others that are very significant and come with high expectations.  Watch the idyllic ads on TV at this time of year.  We all want that heartwarming holiday where everyone gets along and there's peace on Earth.  It almost never unfolds that way.

Perhaps I should have been a dutiful daughter and subject myself to this potentially dramatic scenario… but in all truthfulness, it always takes me a long time to recover from family gatherings.  And the trip would have easily cost over $2000.  Meanwhile, my mother-in-law who lives near us said that she was laid off.  I don't know what her plans would have been for Thanksgiving.  She's an independent sort and has local friends, so I'm sure that she would have found something to do if we weren't taking her out to dinner.  But I think she's glad to spend the holiday with us.

We're going to the same French restaurant we went to for our anniversary.  It's staffed with people from France, who don't care one way or the other about Thanksgiving.  They'll make some money for their up and coming restaurant and I won't have shitloads of leftovers and clean up to do.  I see it as a win/win.  Moreover, we won't go into debt attending a holiday gathering that could easily blow up once people start drinking and talking to each other.  I've seen it happen time and again and don't want to do it anymore.

I have enough drama to attend to on Facebook...


  1. I think you're incredibly wise not to subject yourself and the Lt. that low-key version of a Jerry Springer episode.


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