Thursday, December 24, 2009

true colors

I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays. It seems that for better or for worse, the holidays are the one time that you can count on your loved ones to show their true colors, and this has been true once again this year. Having family members with issues, family members who have overcome hardship, family members who struggle with mental illness... well.... add that all up, shake it up like a snow globe and wait to see how everything shakes out, know what I mean?

The hardest thing for me on the holidays stems from being a child of divorce. My parents didn't split up until I was 17, so for 17 years I grew up with one sense of normal... then my world was ripped apart and I had to muddle through what a new normal was going to be. The problem is that all of that came right as I was getting ready to head off to college and not actually have to live it on a day to day basis. The holidays were the biggest chunk of time that I actually went home, and bouncing between my parents was less about establishing a new tradition for myself and more of just taking the chance to see my parents for a bit, albeit individually.

Since husband and I got married, we've muddled through the holidays and making plans for them has always been tedious at best. Some of the worst fights we've ever had have happened in the middle of carrides between family members, trying to cram in seeing everyone all on December 25. Talk about the reason for the season. We have at least managed to limit ourselves to seeing one set of family members on any particular day and we do manage to make this work pretty well. Becoming parents has stirred the pot a bit with all of this, because everyone wants to be the one to get THE day. While everyone WANTS to be THE one, the way they all address that issue comes across differently. I will say that none of our parents have managed to handle it perfectly all the time, but we are especially grateful for those who acknowledge how hard the bouncing around can be and usually say "we'll see you when we see you". Husband and I had a big talk once where he pointed out that that attitude is really the one that our parents OWE us, having put us through the pressure and stress of splitting up and therefore forcing us to split our focus when seeing family. I had never really thought of it that way, and I certainly very rarely take a perspective of anyone owing me anything... however.........

Today our state is facing an enormous ice & snow storm, and our plans to go out of town to see some of husband's family are being postponed. The hardest part about that fact is that whenever we do reschedule, not all of the family members who are there today will be there when we go up. We will get to see the 'major players' but some aunts, uncles and cousins won't be around. Certainly not what we planned or what we want, but for a state that has had only 12 white Christmases since 1908, and it being Christmas eve w/BLIZZARD conditions, we have to make do with the hand we've been dealt. While my husband's heart is especially heavy in missing out on his family's annual Christmas Eve party (complete with a visit from Santa his own self), there really is no way we could safely navigate our way up. That doesn't stop certain family members from lying on the pressure to visit (don't get me wrong, many of them have called to say STAY HOME) or (even worse) assure us that the roads aren't bad and that we'll be able to make it just fine (insert eye roll here). Talk about true colors.

But, I guess that is what family is all about. You get all kinds of characters, and you love all of them, even the ones you don't like very much. Heck, even Mary had to hop on the back of a donkey while she was 9 months pregnant to make her way to Joseph's home town for some silly census nonsense and wound up stuck giving birth on the floor of a stinking stable. Which brings me once again to one of my favorite Christmas songs, and what I feel really puts me in touch with the true spirit of the season.

Enjoy... and Merry Christmas.

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