Can I Just Hibernate, Please?

Man I wish I was a bear. Sleeping through the winter sounds like a really good solution. I'm starting to find that with each passing year, I dread the holidays more and more. The few family members I was close to have all died in the past couple of years, leaving me to try and look forward to fending off questions about my constant single-ness and underhanded comments by my mom about never having grandchildren. That's Thanksgiving in a nutshell. This year, to make it worse, my mom invited her dad and stepmom, who just recently moved back to the area after living 23 years in Oregon. I have seen them maybe 5 times since I was born.

He scares me. After all the stories I heard of how mean he was when my mom and her brother and sisters were kids, it is hard to want to get to know him. She is nice enough, but has brain damage from a very bad bout of pneumonia that left her without oxygen for too long. She is unpredictable in a childish way; lifting her shirt to show me a scar (god help me) or bursting into tears when talking about her nephew that died. They aren't my grandparents. I don't even consider them family.

It pisses me off that I have to pretend to want to get to know them (as I would never be blatantly disrespectful to them or my mom). I had grandparents. Ones that took care of me, played with me, talked with me, loved me. And now they are both gone and I am not looking for replacements.

Thanksgiving was so uncomfortable. I did anything I could to avoid being in the same room with them, only to be cornered by my aunt who succeeded in calling me a "titty baby" a few times for not getting plastic surgery to fix the after effects (loose skin) of losing so much weight. The only time I actually enjoyed myself was when I was with my sister, her boyfriend, my cousin and his girlfriend. We are all about the same age and it was nice to be able to sit and chat about things that we wanted to; movies, sports, school, etc. We sat down and played cards for almost 2 hours as well. I enjoyed that, but couldn't wait to leave.

And now that brings me to Christmas. Something I dread as well. First and foremost, I enjoy Christmas for the ability to celebrate the birth of my Savior and give back to the community. The thing I enjoy second most to that is being able to go out and see my Dad. With my work schedule, this is one of only two times a year I get to see him. I struggle with everything else.

Christmas with my other family makes me defensive. I don't want their obligatory gifts. The fact that you are buying me something to show me you care just because the date is December 25th ticks me off. You don't show you care any other time, so I don't want you to even bother now. Save your money, it'll just be wasted on someone who can't appreciate your half-hearted attempt "showing love." It's a lose-lose situation, because my family has always worked on the belief that you show how much you love someone by how much you spend on them. I wish every year that my desires of just a small gift card or maybe a new Vera Bradley purse were honored.

Knowing it never works that way, I'm stuck with trying to balance gift giving for everyone else in my family. My sister I tend to spend a little more on because she's still in school and has no money, but I do not want to go overboard on her. The bad thing is, she has experienced much more of the "I love you this much because I bought you this much" message since that is how my Dad is with her. I can see the disappointment on her face when I give her just one thing, or maybe two when she was expecting more. To her, it means I don't love her. Then she goes and spends money she doesn't have on things I don't need to try and show me she loves me. It's a freaking great situation we've got going on. >:(

As far as my mom goes, I'm to the point that everything I think of getting her is so lame (slippers, gift card, etc) that it hardly seems worth the effort. I'd rather find something that we can DO together as opposed to something I can just give her. My sister however, always goes overboard. I swear she spends at least $500 each year on her and wants me to go in on everything she buys. I just don't see the point. My mom would be just as happy to spend time with us as she would with whatever crazy contraption my sister has decided she needs this year. So this year I'm taking my mom, sister, and two youngest nieces to an art studio here in town where they let you paint ceramic plates, bowls, coasters, ornaments, etc and they glaze and fire them for you. My godmother used to have a store like this when we were kids and she would always let us paint something for Christmas. My mom used to do this very often as well so I thought it'd be something fun for all of us to do together. She was so excited about the idea, especially being able to bring the girls and starting a fun tradition with them. My sister on the other hand was like "That's it? What else are you getting her?" *sigh*

All of this "fake" love and obligatory actions tends to put me in a very depressed, somewhat passive-aggressive mood. It doesn't take much to trigger me into a deeper depression, where I fall into the traps of old habits and thought processes and re-route all my pain, anger, sadness, everything that the holidays brings me into myself, where I hold onto it and let it eat me alive. But I'll always put on the happy face... until the holidays blow over and I'm left with a dark cloud of depression and anger that will take me months to get out of. Yay, Christmas.


Grace said...
November 28, 2010 at 2:42 PM
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grace said...
November 28, 2010 at 2:42 PM

I don't like the holidays much unnecessary stress for a lot of people. Now that my gramma is gone I have no extended family "obligations" - and I live over 1000 miles away from my *mother*. It will be a quiet holiday with the hus and my children -and I'm thankful for that.
I am so sorry for the pressure and stress you experienced over Thanksgiving. And frankly I have a few words Id like to say to your rude aunt. What a cruel unkind thing to say! I'm sorry you had to experience that.
I've been hibernating this weekend - and I have to say, there's something to be said for it...(((HUGS)))

Lisa said...
November 28, 2010 at 3:18 PM

i'm so sorry that Thanksgiving was hard. I also really appreciate your support and I understand being nervous around the holidays with family and triggering issues. You are strong and you can do it :)

Stay strong- keep holding on

Colleen said...
November 28, 2010 at 6:56 PM

Thanks for visiting my blog. I felt better after your comment.
I feel the same way about holidays. Have often felt like hibernating. Since breaking it off with my father, it is much better. I feel free from having to pretend.

Anonymous said...
November 29, 2010 at 7:05 AM

Hi Lily,
I hear your frustration. I used to go through this with my mother n law. When I walked in to her house for the first Christmas married to my husband, it looked like Macy's. She literally bought me and my husband 25 gifts each. I was so exhausted from opening and saying many forced thank you's. Thankfully my husband talked to her and we have a more balanced gift exchange.

I love, love the idea of making pottery and spending time with your sister and Mom. :)


Paula said...
November 30, 2010 at 3:17 AM

Lily, this Aunt is respectless and rude. I guess I would have answered with clear words. I am truly happy that you have lost weight. It is a tough going and not easily achieved. Congrats.
Love from my heart to yours