It takes a lot of guts to drop that smiling mask that’s starting to crack and admit that there’s someone in your family who makes the holidays mental and emotional agony. We worry about dealing with them for days or weeks before the holiday, they act out as expected on the special day, we go home in misery. We take it out on our own families, snapping at our kids, arguing with our partners without even understanding why. Our parents, in-laws, grandparents, often don’t want to believe that person is so unbearable that they take all the pleasure out of the holidays for us. It’s just us overreacting. It’s just us not letting go of slights from years ago–slights like theft, damaging vehicles, falling asleep with cigarettes and burning furniture, decades of condescending remarks, moving out and leaving pets behind for others to care for, borrowing money, begging for money, beating us down mentally until we hand over the money, beating us physically if we refuse, showing up at family events drunk and/or high, going into histrionics when asked to stop drinking or just leave . . . we’re supposed to forget all that for the sake of the family, for the holiday spirit.
We’re designated doormats.
I read this wonderful post by Piper Bayard about this subject. It’s called “Pilgrim on a Lonely Journey,” and whatever your stage you’re in, you need to read this because so many of us have been there or are there and we have little traditions like putting up our Nativity scenes that we really want to do tomorrow night but we can’t because our holidays revolve around another person’s behavior.
Maybe one day it won’t.