Day #8 – Ughhh…Family
I know many of you may disagree with this part of my 12 days of pointless ranting, but I find family to be one of the worst during this time of the year. From the sudden fake niceness to the expectation of being friendly and polite to people you don’t know just because they are “relatives”. Add in the obvious inequality of the season and family is near the bottom of things I want to deal with at Christmas.
Now obviously I have a very jaded position on this topic because of my relationship with my family, but I know plenty other people who find dealing with family at this time of the year difficult. Take for instance split families. Excluding the few families who can get along after they separate and can come together and share the holidays together it puts a tremendous strain on both the parents involved and the kids. From the kids point of view they either get to spend the holiday with only one parent or they spend their day being shuffled between families. This means they no longer get to share their holiday with the two people who are supposed to love them the most. If they truly did couldn’t they get along for one day a year? There can be drama between the “adults” involved which only makes it harder on the kids. Even as the kids get older and move out they have the pressure to make both families for Christmas. Now you can add to this that often times there will be an inequality between parents in the gifts they give the kids. One parent may try to out do the other or one may not have the means to give the same type of presents the other may afford to give. This again adds pressure on both the parents and kids involved. This is especially bad when the parents are still playing the “who is your favorite parent” game. If you add in step parents and then 4 sets of grandparents and you can see how the kids spend their time visiting people on Christmas rather than being able to relax and enjoy the day.
It can be the same for kids who are of parents who have not divorced. They may be pressured to visit all the relatives and the whole day becomes stressful instead of relaxing. My brother and sister-in-laws always have an issue with which family they are going to see and who gets dinner and who gets to be seen first. The drama never seems to end and they are a happy family. I know when I was a kid, I left home on Christmas so I did not have to deal with it all. There were other reasons, but I just know the place I did not want to be was with my family.
Family gatherings are just as bad. You get a large group of people together whom you have never seen before who call themselves relatives. I think with most families the types of people who are there can vary widely. You spend your time trying to avoid having to meet all these people who faked like they were so glad to see you. They probably did not even know you existed until the 30 sec before you were introduced. You then are expected to fake interest in them in return. Hopefully you can sneak away before you have to have a long conversation about how your uncle was the person who actually came up with the idea of toilet seat covers but the idea was stolen from his roommate. In these situations I feel like I am going through a job interview.
Gift giving for family members is one of the worst things you have to do. Depending on the size of your family you may buy gifts for everyone or like my wife’s family they draw names each year and only buy for one family member. Do you get them a personal gift, a gift for the family, or just a useful gift for the house? If you are lucky enough to get the crazy member of your family (every family has one and don’t pretend like it doesn’t. If you don’t know who it is, you should look into a mirror.) then it is even more difficult because you do not know how they will react to any gift you give them. I know in our case we are always worried what to get our crazy because she can fly off the handle and disown everyone in the family for a while. It has happened before.
If you are lucky enough to have them stay over at your house then you are guaranteed for some amount of drama. It may be between the kids or spouses or in-laws but for some reason people cannot just share space for very long. I know for me, I go nuts because I feel like I no longer have any where I can go to decompress or get away for a few minutes. I feel like I am always on host mode and never have a chance to relax. In the end, you hope everyone had a good time but then you just noticed that you spent the entire vacation being stressed out and now you get to go back to the rat race and continue that high level of stress.
I am sure some people have the picture perfect families and they all get along and sing songs at the table and never get on each other’s nerves but for the rest of the 99.9% of the world we just get to deal with it. What is the alternative? Not see your family? You would cause just as much drama as if you went. They would not understand why you don’t want to share this holiday with them. They would feel slighted and then you have just as much drama. We are all in a lose-lose situation. I don’t even like it because it is not like I got to choose my family. Of course I am in a different boat as I have no contact with any of my 6 siblings or my parents so our level of drama is cut in half, unless you count the number of times they try to contact during this time of year. I am thinking that the best idea for the holidays would be go to an isolated cabin or island and get away from it all. Lose the family, lose the drama, gain the relaxation.