being a mom

I Have Family Issues, And I Hate Holidays Like Thanksgiving

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Yesterday Lindsay Cross wrote about how she loves her large extended family and spending holidays with them. For someone like me, it seems like the majority of the world on holidays spends time with their families, parents, grandparents, siblings and distant relatives. It should be noted that I have an amazing family that I adore. An incredible husband, three wonderful kids. Which is who I will spend my holiday with. Everyone else is either dead, too far away, spending time with their own families, or crazy busy. For a lot of us, the holidays are twinged with a sort of melancholy. And envy. I’d love to have a full house on the holidays, filled with laugher and everyone cooking and cooing over my children. But that’s not how it will be.

My holidays weren’t always like this. I’ve had plenty of wonderful holidays with family that were great. I have memories that I will always cherish. I also have a lot of not very good memories. And I think a lot of us are like that. I’m not sure how you get over the sadness or loss you feel when your desire for a certain type of celebration is not meant to be. I know I’ll be a bit sad this holiday season, missing people I’ve lost for one reason or another. I also know I’ll make the best of it for my kids and for my husband, the family I do have, but part of me wishes it were another way. It’s sort of sucky when I read stories like Lindsay’s. I feel jealous. I’m not sure how I can get over it and focus on the blessings I do have instead. It’s not always an easy answer.

There are many reasons that people are estranged during the holidays. People are dead. People are sick. People are abusive, or drunk, or addicted to drugs. People you are related to could have badly hurt you, hurts that aren’t as simple as sucking it up and apologizing for things that you have no reason to apologize for. You could have hurt people, and can’t find a way to repair the damage that you have caused. Or maybe it’s simply because you live too far away. Sometimes it’s not as easy as tolerating an uncle who gets a little too drinky after the turkey is carved and bloviates about political beliefs that you don’t share.

I always wanted a huge dining room table, with generations of women sitting around it, teaching my daughter how to bake pies. I’ve always wanted the laughter of children in my leaf-strewn yard, tossing a football around, board games played after the dishes are cleared with young and old. I avoid Hallmark movies that depict these cliched and enviable scenarios of families at holidays. I sometimes get teary at television commercials that advertise french fried onions decorating green bean casseroles passed from grandparents to children.

One of the neat things about becoming a parent is that you can create the type of family celebrations you have always wanted. You can use your holidays to participate in charity work, to share the holidays with those less fortunate than you are. You can have the sort of Thanksgiving you see on tv movies, the type you read about in articles like Lindsay’s, but just on a much smaller scale. You can enjoy what you do have, and count your blessings.

And then you can sneak off into the bedroom, locking the door behind you and holding a pillow to your face, crying as quietly as you can manage so the kids don’t hear you, before you go downstairs to soften ice cream for pie. I’m sure a lot of you do this as well.

(photo: AVprophoto/shutterstock)