My Christmas Confession

>> Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On Christmas day, we had a great morning. We opened gifts and our Babe had a blast, we had a yummy breakfast, we helped Baboo play with his new gifts, listened to Christmas music and watched Christmas movies. And then we packed up and got in the car to drive to our big extended family dinner. We were, of course, the first ones there. We arrived ten minutes late, but all the guests hadn't arrived until a two full hours after that. That's how my family rolls.

When my parents and sister finally arrived, I knew right away what had happened. Their expressions were drawn, their eyes were red, and their greetings strained. I had been a part of this scene for years before, so I knew. A talk with my mom later on in the evening confirmed it. There had been a huge fight that day, just as there usually was on special occasions. My family is pretty much incapable of just having a nice holiday. I don't know whether it's the fact that everything is supposed to be perfect on Christmas, so emotions are running high and everything gets blown out of proportion, but I have been a part of many ruined Christmases, birthdays, and Thanksgivings.

On my 16th birthday we were in Florida, and the night before my birthday I was watching a movie over at the condo of a friend I'd made at the resort. My father came over and yelled at me and forced me to leave in the middle of the movie, for absolutely no reason other than that he wanted me to come back. The next day I was so upset that my mother basically had to beg me to come to Disney World with them. I didn't feel like going anywhere with them, I just wanted to stay at the resort by myself.

Two Christmases ago, my father and my sister got into an argument on Christmas Eve, which resulted in him taking her $400 cell phone and smashing it to pieces. On boxing day, he took her out to buy her another, and then tried to convince her to get a cheaper one. He said, and I quote "The problem is that you got a cell phone that's too expensive." No, the problem is that you throw tantrums and vandalize others' property like a child, and then don't want to make up for it.

I have a lot of other stories like these ones, but I'll spare you. I found a quiet room to talk to my mom on Christmas, and she told me that he had screamed at my sister the entire. way. there. That morning when she'd given them their gifts (they didn't have any to give her, so desperate is their financial situation) he'd opened the mug, and then said "You think I want your stupid mug?" Yes, people. This is my father. And no, he wasn't drinking, this is actually just his personality. He then proceeded to yell at her the entire car ride to Christmas dinner. About what a crappy daughter she was. About how she does nothing for my mother. About how heartless of her it was to take off to Mexico over Christmas break instead of coming home and spending time with my mom, who just got out of the hospital (again). My mom said she just kept asking him to stop, over and over, but that he just refused. My mom isn't happy with my sister either, but she is wise enough to know that screaming at someone and ruining their Christmas (again) isn't the way to get them to come around more.

My confession is this. When they walked in the door, and I immediately realized what had happened, I was relieved. Relieved that I'd had a perfect Christmas morning with my little family. Relieved that I hadn't been there. Relieved that never again, would every holiday have to be ruined. I have my own family now. We have our own traditions. We have our own way of doing things, we are functional, and I don't have to be a part of that mess any more. My options for the holidays are no longer spend them with my dysfunctional parents or be alone. I am saved. I can breathe. And I'm relieved.

I feel guilty. Like I was in a war, and went AWOL, and left other men behind. But my relief and joy completely overpower that guilt. It is, after all, not my fault. I didn't create those conditions. I just survived them. And now I'm finally free to move on and create a new life for myself, and I have. So when I get down about our life not being perfect, about all the things that we don't have or can't afford, or about how difficult it is raising a spirited child with zero family support, I will go back to that moment at Christmas. The moment when I realized that I was free. And I will be thankful.

I'm reminded the words from a song by Nikka Costa, that I used to listen to all the time when I was in high school, dreaming of the day when I would be free.

Just like the earth has spent a thousand years making up for what we do. . .
Just like the heart that's spent a lifetime forgiving what is cruel. . .
Just like the sea has spent a thousand years at the mercy of the moon. . .
So have I for you.

You can choose the rain, but I choose the sun.
That's all I need to free myself.

(So have I for you, by Nikka Costa. Check it out. You'll be inspired).


KeLLy aNN January 5, 2011 at 6:43 AM  

and THAT is exactly why we now celebrate Thanksgiving with our own selves, and after this past Christmas, are searching for ways to do it on our own. In my family it's more my brother, his wife and their 3 boys, which 2 of them are just pains. The power struggle between her and my brother is uncomfortable and a pain in the arse,. And after spending all Christmas Eve cooking {cornbread dressing, broccoli rice casserole, average of 4 to 6 pies, AND the Turkey all from scratch}, going on a road trip to see mother in law {which is a minimum of 5 hours from the day}, I don't want to spend all day Christmas, catering to my Brothers lazy butt who won't even help with the dishes. Not when I can stay home, relax and have the Hubs help me.
It's sad that your dad is like that. Maybe your sister could just celebrate with your family unit.
As for your Family Morning, kudos!
Here's to making the Holidays are OWN!!

The Psycho Mama January 5, 2011 at 8:53 AM  

I hope you find a way to take back Christmas! It should definitely be a peaceful time, not upsetting or uncomfortable,


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