A Thanksgiving Message from “Mama Bear”

Dear sweet readers…. I want to start by thanking you for your readership and friendship over the years.  What started as a quest to hopefully become a widely-read, popular blog has yielded… well, quite frankly, almost no results to speak of in terms of internet traffic.  But, there’s a few of you out there who still read my posts and for you I am very thankful on this Thanksgiving day!

I write to you from a beachfront hotel.  It is a holiday when most people are with all their family, but I just can’t do that anymore.  My mother’s Alzheimer’s has progressed so much I don’t think she knows who I am anymore, much less whether it’s a holiday or not.  The rest of my family?  I love ’em, but for one family member in particular holidays bring out the absolute worst in behavior and attitudes.  I learned my lesson about that six years ago.  As I saw the look on my then-teenager’s face as he got to behold all the drama and emotional fuckery unfold at the hands of one person, I went into Mama Bear mode.  I swore then he would never have that look on his face again–at least not for that reason.  He is now about to graduate from college, and even though I can’t protect him from ever being hurt or miserable again, I can certainly protect him (and me) from dreading the holidays thanks to “family obligation.”

Ever since, our holidays have consisted either of traveling somewhere (usually a beach), or, having friends of our choosing come to visit and cook with us.  This year is the beach, as I mentioned.

Of course it had to begin with a stomach virus for me, but I think the worst of that is over.  I am good, really GREAT!  I’m quite peaceful and content, in spite of feeling a bit weak from the stomach crud.  It’s early morning and I can hear my son and Handyman both snoring and all is right with my world.  Bonus points for the fact that I won’t have to tolerate even a bite of turkey today, as we are having mexican food for lunch and italian food for dinner!  My little family of three people is juuuuuust right.

As promised, I did not host my holiday party this year.  I do not miss doing it, and, not one person at work said, “Awwww…. please do it again.”  So either they all hated the parties, or they were just tired of attending and either way, I’m good.  More time for my family, job, and hobbies.

Handyman is still here!  We will celebrate one year together on December 31.  His ex-girlfriend wrote his mother and told her we were having an affair long before we actually became involved.  They had completely broken up before we started dating.  She’ll never believe that, but I guess I can live with that.  I guess there’s nothing like a woman scorned to create historical fiction.

While I was nursing my virus today, I had a chance to go back and review some of my old posts about food.  I think it’s time I get back to that, since I have no more unpleasant romantic adventures to share with you!

We have much to celebrate in the coming weeks.  Have a wonderful, bountiful Thanksgiving!  A great Hanukkah!  A fantastic Kwanzaa!  A very happy Christmas!  A spirited winter solstice!  May you find all the happiness you can possibly stand during this holiday season!


Baby It’s Cold Outside… but Maybe Not?

Yesterday I booked a trip to Orlando for Christmas.  My son and I wanted to go somewhere tropical formickey-mouse-snowman-christmas-510x640 the holiday but all the resorts were outrageously expensive and I didn’t have $5 thousand lying around to burn.   So, I booked one of those time share deals–pay $250 for three nights, and in return I have to go through a time share presentation.  Ugh.

That was really our only option for the budget, because the resorts charge outrageous prices that time of year.  I guess it’s because they can–apparently we ain’t the only cats who avoid family at Christmas.

That sounds awful to say, but it’s true.  And I’ll tell you the history.

When I was 18 years old I leased apartments to work my way through school.  I would volunteer for the Christmas Eve shift every year just so I had a reason not to go to my parents’ house any earlier than I had to.  It wasn’t because of my parents, though.  It was because of a certain other person in our family who had to make a scene.  Every.  Single.  Year.  It was like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were on their calendar marked, “Show My Ass in the Biggest Way Possible.”  The holiday was so miserable that I fantasized about growing up, moving away, and spending Christmas alone.   If it wasn’t arguing about something it was a crying fit about a dead dog.  It was always always always something.  Oh, and it happened at Thanksgiving, too.

I loved Christmas.  It was my favorite holiday of the year.  I lived for it, decorated, shopped, wrapped, baked….but then that person would have to make their scene each year and so it was often anticlimactic and disappointing.

I grew up, finished school, and moved away.  I came back for Christmas, and it still happened.  Once I had a child, though, I stopped traveling at Christmas.  As I told everyone, “Santa will come down our chimney for our son–you can be here with us if you like, but he’s not going to travel at Christmas.”  With that came a wonderful thing–peace at Christmas.  My son was the focus, and I did not go to see my parents and engage in the drama.  They would come and visit us, leaving the drama starter at home.

I got to decorate, shop, wrap, bake, etc.,. to my heart’s content, and I got to see Christmas through the wonder of a child’s eyes.  It was magical.  In 2009 we moved to North Carolina.  And we were close enough to my family that we were able to visit for Christmas.  We didn’t have much of a reason not to.

The first year, we went for Thanksgiving.  While we were there had an early small Christmas celebration.  I’ll give you three guesses what happened, and the first two don’t count.  Yep–the Scene Maker started with their antics.  But, there was one critical difference between this time and all the times before…

…I had to see the impact of it in my son’s eyes.  I had tolerated it all those years and was used to it, but he had never had a miserable or unpleasant or drama-filled holiday in his life. He was 12 at the time and caught in that odd space between being a child and a teenager, and the confusion and tension I saw on his face was just heartbreaking for me.

The next year, we visited the family for a short time just before Christmas.  And yes, it happened again.  The drama was something that my father was so used to he simply said, “You know ____ always has to show their ass.”  And that look on my son’s face?  There it was again.  I can’t begin to describe it accurately, but it was one of disturbance, pain, anxiety, confusion, and sheer fright.

It killed me to see that.  And at that moment I made up my mind:  there would never be another holiday with my family.  It was one thing when I had to take the abuse but it was a whole other can of worms when I had to see my son get hurt.

One of the most frustrating things about this whole situation is that my parents–my father in particular–is an enabler.  Come one, come all, even if you do act like an asshole.  Ruin our holiday and we’ll accept it as a normal occurrence.  If it were me I’d un-invite the offender until s/he could learn to behave.  But, that’s not how it works at Dysfunction Junction.

I see my parents several times a year.  I love them with all my heart.  But, I just cannot spend a holiday with them anymore.  This year we’ll travel through there on our way to Orlando and spend a night or two, and deliver a few gifts, but there will be no Christmas festivities with “the whole family.”  I just can’t do it.  On this Christmas Day I will be in the company of someone I love more than anything–my son.  I’ll be dancing with Mickey Mouse to the tune of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and avoiding drama at all costs.