That's what my brother said to me when I disagreed with the general consensus that this Xmas eve was the "best ever." Best ever meaning no tears, no fighting, actual civility among parents and our small little circle of relations. We actually got along. Or so it appeared.
Really? Sorry to let you down, folks. Glad you had a blast, but if I never have to do that again, I would be grateful.
After dinner (where it was duly noted that neither M. nor I said grace) that we didn't eat and presents that were craptastic (wow. thanks, mom, for getting M. sweet rose wine he will never drink, my brother a mexican fiesta gift package he will never eat and me a necklace with 2 little girl charms that is so gaudy and so not like anything that I would ever dream of putting on my body that you have guaranteed its return. Nice to know that you have your finger on the pulse of people you allegedly know so well...), M. and I convinced my brother to pull out his Wii and hook it up.
Thank goddess for the g*d damned Wii. Hours and hours of playing this game and getting my parents off the couch and involved apparently counts as the Best Xmas Eve Ever.
M orchestrated the Wii set up, the crafting of the little Miis, the bowling tournament. And it was 100% selfish. Because we knew we would have to linger a bit longer and I honestly couldn't see how I was going to make it without crawling into a corner and going fetal. He could obviously see that too.
In true clueless form, my parents saw nothing, said nothing relevant and were focused solely on themselves: My father's comments directed at all the hours my mom spent in the kitchen and expecting us to lather her with praise, my mom waiting in silent martydom for the praise. A word about the girls? Not a one. A question? A Query about us? No way. Just an acknowledgment that we have arrived and that dinner was ready. Meanwhile, my aunt and cousin were quiet at their seats trying to see through the tension that was obvious to them but apparently no one else. My brother: hungry and just trying to be a good host. His girlfriend: as usual, fairly clueless but sweet. She is usually a welcome respite at these affairs.
Can I just say when I saw the necklace I wanted to punch through a wall? And then I wanted to punch my mom. Wanted to ask, what the f*ck were you thinking when you picked out this piece of shit and is this what the girls are to you? Some tacky charm? Some cheap ass trinket? Is this what you think of your daughter? Do you even know me? Have you ever known me?
I am sure that I am acting like a brat here, but you know what? I think if there were ever a moment when I could, that moment would be now.
It is easy for me to get myself absolutely riled at how awful my parents have been since this all went down. Every moment when they have had an opportunity to show compassion, some love, some empathy, they have managed to avoid it. Every chance that there has been for words, for no words, for acknowledgement, for...for f*ck's sake...something, they have managed to act in the exact opposite way that I would hope for. Every time I see them I feel as if this is something I have done to them. A punishment that they now must bear, a situation that I have created out of spite and because I never really wanted them to be grandparents. You see, it is all about them and I can't help but thinking that somehow an apology, an admission of guilt has been expected from me.
Now, hang on there, m. Are you serious? Is this just an extension of what we already talked about?
Look, all I know is how I feel and I feel like I want to scream every time the phone rings and I see it is their number. I crumple into "Darlene" at the prospect of spending an evening with them. I want to limit any and all interaction with them and this, of course, is obvious and is grounds for more guilt and martyrdom from them.
Ah Eastern European traditions. F*cking great, no?
And here is where I need to pause.
And I need to remind myself that as horrid as xmas eve was, that was how wonderful Xmas day was. I woke up with my husband. Hugged and held. Opened the few presents we bought for ourselves (none of them surprises.) Oh look! A package from vans! oh hey! Santa Matador records came! Oh golly! the elves from Keen shoes must have left this here (rip. rip. tear. tear. hurray!) we do this every year, and you know what, every year we crack ourselves up.
With new pressies on our bodies and bellies full of coffee we went to M's parents' house where we opened (truly fabulous and NOT craptastic presents) and sat around, and ate, and laughed, and talked about the girls and plans for the future and enjoyed each other's company. And simply loved each other. And it was wonderful. I fell asleep on a chair with a book on my chest and a belly full of food. I fell asleep content.
And for as awful as my parents have been, that is how amazingly wonderful relatives like my brother and my aunt have risen to the occassion. I have had shaky relations with both of these folks at various stages in the past and now, dammit, they are my homies. My strongest allies, my biggest supporters. And that is a gift.
And for as thoughtless as mom and dad have been, that is how thoughtful our friends, our good good friends have been. They have surrounded us with love and care, but not smothered. They have asked, but not harped. They have simply reminded us again and again and in so many ways that we are loved and that they are here, as they have been in the past, like they will be in the future.
And that is a gift.
At the end of the day, I am simply thankful that this holiday season (at least the worst of it) is over and that a new year is just a few days away.