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Tuesday, November 25, 2008


For most of my life we have spent our holidays with my mom's side of the family. She comes from a large family and I'm very close with my grandmother, so it just make sense. My dad's parents died when he was young and he was raised by an uptight Aunt, so not much fun on holidays.

Fun, however, might be pushing it when describing our holidays. You see, my mother's side of the family might be big which could potentially mean fun, but mostly it means dysfunction. All of her siblings are great, friendly, funny people, easy to be around, relaxed, none of that stuffy-have-to-mind-your-manners types. But something about putting all the siblings and spouses in a room all together and it starts to resemble a late night episode of Jerry Springer.

No, their lives were not easy growing up. They were poor, there were a few different fathers involved, okay 4 to be exact for 6 kids, my grandma was always working 2 or 3 jobs due to the fact that she married 4 losers, and the kids were pretty much on their own with my mom being the oldest and trying to herd the other six. As you can imagine, this lends itself to some anger, resentment and general bad feelings.

Your first clue when you walk in the room and are trying to gauge the environment is how thick the tension is. If you get there early, it's not too bad, but if you make the mistake of coming later, bring a knife - you'll need it to get through the room. I always try to arrive early, go straight to the kitchen with grandma and busy myself doing something useful - like buttering rolls or mashing potatoes. The key is to stay busy and don't make the mistake of getting in the middle of any conversation. Small talk is fine, but when the decibel level starts to rise? Maybe it's time to walk the dog!

There are many old wounds that have never been healed and when they all get in the room at the same time, the shit usually starts flying. It starts with snarky remarks and usually ends with someone leaving early.

You might ask yourself, 'why would you even go?' That is a good question, one that I have aksed myself many times over the years, but when it's all you've got - there aren't many options. But then about 9 years ago, my world changed and other options opened to me! The key is, you move 7+ hours away from your family and have some great excuses as to why that drive just isn't going to work for you this year.

As time went on, I got really smart and picked the relatives I enjoyed and invited them to MY house. Like I said, one on one they are great - just not together.

So in honor of this tradition I have started, I am looking forward to my grandmother and my uncle coming to our house for Thanksgiving this year. We all three love to cook, we love to play games, we all get along with no hang-ups and enjoy being together. It's the perfect solution.

How are your holidays? Are you one of the lucky people that have a normal family that just likes to have a good time or can you relate to my 'divide and conquer' strategy?

Either way, I'm hoping you all have a wonderful holiday full of lots of food, drink and fun.


Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

For most of my life, I've had two Thanksgiving dinners -- one with my father's family and one with my mother's. This year, however, we're having dinner with my mother's family and that's it. I'm so relieved.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Way to go! I think that while there is something to be said for family obligation, at some point it's okay to let go if things are really toxic. That said, we gracefully split the holidays between my side and Mr. D's so that his gets Thanksgiving, mine gets Easter and they each get a weekend before or after Christmas and That Is It.

Cherry said...

The last few years I have pretty much cooked a special meal for my parents, so it's just Us and Them. My brother moved out of the country, and doesn't exactly get along with my father, so it's just the local family getting together. There is usually some uncomfortable silences and my father will tell some story or give us some profound advice. I sort of push us through the meal just to get through it.

When I was growing up I actually don't recall much of a Thanksgiving. My mom probably took my brother and I to my grandmother's tiny studio apartment in her assisted living facility where we likely had deli turkey sandwiches, or a roast chicken.

And in high school I started spending the holiday with my friend's families. It was more fun and my parents didn't seem to fight it. I carried that on for a number of years until my brother got a girlfriend and wanted to show her some sort of family resemblance. I cooked, we all ate, it was weird.

so NOT cool said...

Yay for your new traditions. That is something that I have focused on as a mom during the holidays ... creating our own traditions and not feeling stuck to old ones. It's still hard to balance sometimes, just with one little section of the family. That is stressful. I grin and bear it, focusing on taking photos and sticking to our simpler philosophies on what the holidays are all about.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mrs. G. said...

Uh, boy do I get this. Happy Thanksgiving!

denise said...

Oh yeah. We decided we DON'T live far enough away, and farm animals would be good to limit our ability to travel. ;) Har.

Minnesota Matron said...

Here's to new holiday traditions! Angie, one includes a blogging get together at Pop!! on December 13 - it's like the third post down under "invitation" on my blog. Spread the news to Wi/MN crew . . .

*~*Cece*~* said...

I'm VERY thankful that my family is "normal". There aren't any wounds or issues we need to skirt around. We all get along, walk in, hug, kiss & greet everyone individually and enjoy the time we have as a family. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Erikka said...

i go to my parents/or which ever sibling is hosting. my family...is loud and volatile when left on their own. outsiders coming in, like my beau, see this and hear this as a stressful and not fun situation. while this is partly true, it leaves out the fact that...this is how we communicate (for now) and we do still manage some fun. this year, my eldest brother and his wife hosted, so her family was there with ours. more people helps diffuse a little of my families energy. and this was the first tday my beau came home with me. it all went well!

Tootsie Farklepants said...

I don't think "normal family" exists.

Mrs. G. said...

Way to work through the bullshit. 2009 is going to be my year for doing the same.

Have a good bloggy break. I love your music when I come over here!

Daisy said...

Dysfunction isn't fun, no matter what the jokes say. I commend you on your solution: stay in the kitchen with Grandma! I'd do the same.