Monday, November 25, 2013

I Just Don't Get It

For those of us living in the U.S., Thanksgiving is this week. A time to get together with family... which may or may not be a good thing. Last week, I was part of a Twitter conversation that left me completely flabbergasted:

I swear. Thanksgiving is the worst holiday. We both have family in town. Which means we have to fight every fricking year about where we're going and when and it's AWFUL.

My parents and my MIL live two blocks from each other, so we get that any time we visit for the weekend. For holidays we just alternate and too bad for whoever doesn't like it.

Well, both sides of the family would stop talking to us completely if we did that.

Umm... what?

I didn't continue the conversation, because I honestly didn't know how to respond to that, at least not without completely ripping on this person's family. But my knee-jerk response is simply, "Their loss."

I get that it's disappointing not to get to see people on holidays because they're spending the time with the "other family," but really?!

Where did this idea come from that family is such a sacred bond that you can be so disrespectful and it doesn't matter because the other person will always forgive you? This whole "nothing is more important than family" thing is actually kind of crap. There are lots of things that are more important than simply BEING a family. For one, how about ACTING like a family? Like you actually care about each other... that includes dialing down the guilt and manipulation.

Personally, I like the way we do it. Thanksgiving with one side, Christmas with the other. And every year we switch. On Pat's side, all family get-togethers almost always involve the same people, but with my side, it gets even more complicated because we might be with my mom's side or my dad's side. Which means that, the people we don't see one year, we won't necessarily see them the next year. And when you factor in the fact that others might also be dividing their holiday time... there's really never a guarantee.

(The "no guarantee" thing is true to an extent with Pat's family too, but it's pretty uncommon to go two years without seeing someone... whereas that's the norm for a lot of my side.)

So, trust me, I can see the benefits of trying to fit everyone in... but personally I think it's too much of a headache. Especially if those who are insisting on it won't compromise. So, family is important... but the other side of the family doesn't deserve the same quality time?

If seeing your family is really that important, make time to see them throughout the year. And if you do see them throughout the year, then why make such a fuss over one day? I know there's something to be said for tradition, but when people come together and create a new family, you can't expect everything to always stay the same.

If our parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins can't respect the decisions we make for our new family, then that's their problem. And if they'd take it so personally to the point where they'd actually stop talking to us because of it... then why would I want make more time and effort to see them? Just because they're family?

Family is NOT a get-out-of-shitty-behavior free card.

And I know I shouldn't be judging this other person's situation, because I don't know all the people and all the factors involved, and it has nothing to do with me. But I feel like I see so much of this kind of thing. And I just don't get it.

Maybe it's because I've never been involved in family drama. Maybe someday I'll end up in a situation where an outsider would say, "It's not worth it, why do you put up with that?" and I'll respond, "Well, they're family."

But I hope not. I hope I go through my whole life never "getting it." The price of understanding is too high.

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