Monday, December 7, 2009

why I am not even fun at christmas

It will come as no surprise to anyone that Christmas stresses me out.

Today I took all of the gifts I have been collecting throughout the year, and wrapped everything, and made sure I hadn't forgotten anyone. And I packed up boxes to ship to the mainland, and filled out the mailing labels. But I was missing an address, so I had to send out a festive family email:

.....I have a birthday gift and a christmas gift to send, and that man is not responding to my (perfectly pleasant and civil, by the way) email requesting his new mailing address.

I am not in the mood to call and chat with whatshername, so I'm not calling them. If someone has the new address, great. If not, I'm sending the box to the address I have.

Happy Fucking Holidays. Remember when Christmas was fun? Me Neither.

I used to like Christmas. I mean, as a kid, of course I LOVED Christmas. What's not to love? You get a bunch of stuff, and you get money, and you don't have to buy a damn thing for anyone else because your parents take care of that shit.

But then I got older. And getting stuff wasn't that much fun anymore. And the gifts I could afford to give were shitty. And my life was chaotic And then, my father left.

On Christmas.

And then, the very next year, while I was in my second year of not getting pregnant, and loaded to the gills with fertility drugs and crying and depressed and celebrating my first Christmas without my father, his girlfriend had a baby.

On Christmas.

When my mother found out her husband's girlfriend was pregnant, she told him "this is going to kill your daughter". And it almost did. That news was pretty much the nail in the coffin for me. My husband was really the only thing that kept me going, kept me afloat and focused and sane. But as for the holidays, the verdict was in: Christmas officially sucked and was a non-holiday. Christmas is for kids. I didn't have a kid, my brothers were basically not kids any more, there were no kids around, so I was prepared to Never Celebrate Christmas Again.

That was bullshit, of course. Because the very next Christmas found me holding a 10 day old baby boy of my own, and his arrival healed my broken heart enough to carry on and find some of the joy that had been wrung out of the holidays with all of the tears I had shed in the previous two years.
It's better, it's easier, it doesn't hurt so much anymore....but every December we celebrate this holiday and it all comes back to me. And every year, I feel guilty for not having a relationship with that kid who was born on Christmas just like Sweet Baby Jesus. But I don't and I can't and I won't....for the foreseeable future. Yes, I know, it's not his fault our dad is such a putz. And I know that relationships end and people move on and that I am hardly the first person in my particular situation. I'll spare you the details, my self-righteous indignation over the specifics which are tawdry and unflattering to my father and his girlfriend (now wife). The point is, my problem is not with this kid - I just can't deal with this kid's PARENTS. So, for now, he is not a part of our life. Too many hurt feelings, too much confusion, it was too easy to make excuses and put it off.

For a long time, it was easy - we had absolutely no contact. My father sent a few cards, called a few times, and each interaction left me so upset that finally my husband and family and doctors suggested that I stop. I wrote my father a letter explaining that I didn't want to have contact because I wasn't ready to interact with his new family, and pretend that everything was normal and wonderful. I closed that door firmly, turned the lock and threw the key in a drawer somewhere. I Just Didn't Think About It. OK, that's a lie. I totally thought about it, but didn't dwell on it. OK, maybe I dwelled a little, but JUST A LITTLE. OK a lot. I dwelled on it a lot. But I was resolute in my No Contact Ground Rules. And then there was the good old Golden Rule - I had nothing nice to say, and I tried to say nothing at all.

I failed miserably - I am, after all, me.

Saying nothing is not an option. Ooooh how I wish I could keep my mouth shut, to remain cool and calm and quiet. But it's just not in my nature. (Not in my father's nature either. It does not escape my notice that I am my father's daughter not just in my biology, but in my personality as well. Oh, irony, how I love you so.) So I kept my distance, not trusting myself to be civil, and knowing that if the two of us got going, it would be World War III.

And then I saw him. Them. All three of them were at a wedding we attended. And suddenly, maintaining the silence was not so easy. In fact, seeing them was hard and unpleasant. I was horrified. It was the worst thing I could imagine, and it was happening in full view of future in-laws and extended family and friends of the family and OH THE HUMANITY. I had to be on my best behavior. I refused to make a scene. I even took their picture. I definitely didn't fight - I didn't say much at all. I stayed as far away from Her as possible, and dealt with my father only when completely necessary. And their kid was just a kid - and busy doing kid stuff with MY kid. I don't know if the boys knew they were related, I don't know if my son remembers it at all. I was nauseous and upset and angry and trying to deal as best I could without self-medicating. (The last family wedding I had attended, I actually drank ALL OF THE VODKA at the reception. All Of It. I know that, because I went up to get another Vodka7 and the bartender was all "You drank all the vodka, ma'am." Now, that is just poor planning on the caterer's part, but I digress.) There was not going to be enough vodka In The Universe to get me through this wedding without being uncomfortable, so I decided to spare all of us the drama that comes with Daffodil+Vodka+family event

You are welcome.

But that wedding broke the seal - the seal of silence, the No Contact Ground Rules. Houston, we had contact.

And my father started sending gifts - excessive in my mind considering the years and miles between us, but the gifts would arrive and sometimes we would accept them, and sometimes we wouldn't because it just seemed wrong to be getting gifts from people we didn't even SPEAK TO. We really struggled with it. The last thing we needed or wanted was more STUFF to begin with. And stuff with all of the excess baggage was even less appealing.

I finally decided to get over it. If they want to send a Christmas or birthday gift to the kids, fine. But what about THEIR kid? Should I be sending a gift to this boy that I am related to but have never really met? Never had a conversation with? Never hugged or kissed or read to or carried around or introduced as my (and this word is so hard to use in this situation) my brother? Because of course it's not about him, this silence. It has nothing to do with him. My father told me during a tense conversation that "he knows all about you" which freaked me out. I tried to imagine what our father said to him, how he would have explained to this boy that he has a sister, a big sister who ignores him. Pretends he isn't there.

No. Not even close. I know he is there. I just don't know him. Big Difference.

So now, every December, I put a package together for this kid I don't know, but who is related to me. I don't know why I do it, exactly. I send a Christmas present and a birthday present. Wrapped seperately. Birthday paper on one gift, holiday paper on the other. And I mail them out, and maintain my silence.

Which is so unlike me.

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