Ever ask yourself how much you can take? Ever ask that during the holidays? Haha sure you do. I am just about maxed out –no, I AM maxed out. Enough. I quit. I'm done. I want our normal household routine back with only the people who are supposed to be here. Family is great, and I love them dearly. Blah blah blah…
A very wise man once told me that families go crazy during the holidays because they're together so much. When parents and their grown children and even grandchildren all gather under the same roof, it's sweaty, emotional dynamite. Everyone reverts back to the roles they played decades ago. Parents parent when they should keep silent. Sibling rivalries flare. Old wounds are laid open, and everybody has a handful of salt. My favorite part of this whole scene is a family's insistence on ignoring the obvious and pretending that it never happened/isn't happening now. That, my friends, turns up the pressure on the already-jittery pressure cooker. When it blows, and it will, better have a back row seat.
My husband's mother stayed with us for 4 days, beginning on my birthday this year. My husband loves her very much but as with all parent/child relationships, there is an undercurrent. My husband is the youngest of her 4 children, but he has served as the patriarch for many years. Well, he and his older brother did, but his older brother passed away a few years ago. There are hurts, favoritisms, slights and just flat-out inconsiderations that he tolerates and as his wife, I tolerate them right alongside him. The pressure has to escape somehow though, and it does in this particular case in shortness of temper and his just plain tuning her out. That makes me in charge of small-talk and conversation. If you know me at all, that is a funny thought. Four days of that is tricky, folks.
We spent time with my dad, too. He is 91 years old. He long ago stopped caring about whether he hurts someone's feelings or says something offensive to a passerby. He believes he has this right because, in fact, he is 91. To an extent, I agree with him. But when we're walking down the hallway of his upscale retirement community and a neighbor woman tells him, "Happy Holidays," and he replies, "Are you a JEW?" that's embarrassing. It's infuriating when he tells me he hopes I haven't screwed up Thanksgiving dinner too badly. I have a very soft spot for him, but he tests it frequently.
Our children have started bringing their "significant others" with them to holiday get-togethers. Not going there. Too many dynamics to address here.
We got through it, though. No big blow-ups. No hospitalizations or 9-1-1 calls. No emergency interventions. I'd call that a success.
I'm ready to draw the curtain on this year's holidays. Believe it or not I love Christmas and Thanksgiving, and I even loved them this year. It's just that enough is enough. God knew what He was doing, folks, when he crammed all the heavy-duty family stuff in at the end of the year. Time is the Great Healer, and 11 months is just about enough to forget many slights and trespasses. Here's to training for the '11 Holidays.