Perhaps the most frustrating part of growing up in a blended family was that no one spoke to one another. My parents are out of the picture. My maternal & paternal sides have been in a [justified] feud since 1990 & have no contact. Where my paternal side is all very close- with the exception of my father- my maternal side does not communicate, and everyone stays within their household. Basically, it’s a mess. This time of year always reminds me of just how wild family dynamics can be. I’m going to recount my messiest adult Christmas for you below…
Christmas Eve 2012:
After spending the week visiting with both of my maternal uncles and their wives/children- who don’t celebrate holidays together- I celebrated Christmas a day early with another part of that side of the family (great-aunt & her boyfriend, second-cousin & his then-boyfriend [now husband]). We opened all of our presents & had a great night. I spent the night there at my great-aunt’s house & prepared to travel the next day.
Christmas Day 2012:
I woke up and started getting ready to visit my paternal family, who lives about 40 minutes from my maternal family. I have a fantastic relationship with everyone in the paternal side of my family, except for my “dad,” who I have never spoken to. For context- he lives in the same town as everyone else, and no one ever sees him (I mean, ever).
As I began walking to my car, I received a text from my oldest cousin saying “He’s here.” I panic. I obviously can’t drive there now! What do I do?! Do I just celebrate Christmas alone at 21? My reply, “Okay, text me when he leaves.” She did, hours later, and I made the drive out. My presence then sends my Grandma in to tears, and leads to my younger cousins asking 1-million awkward questions. Perhaps this was the first time they had realized I had no relationship with him? Who knows. All I know is that it was incredibly uncomfortable, and I vowed that year to never spread myself too thin on a holiday again. Being alone and vulnerable was not the way I wanted to spend my Christmas, and I’ve never done it again.
This year, I’m spending Christmas Day with my boyfriend & his family, including his two daughters who are 1 and 3 years old. I cannot wait to see them open their Christmas presents and make the whole day about them (and Jesus). The day after Christmas, the four of us are driving 2.5 hours and spending half the day with the paternal side of my family, which includes both grandparents, three aunts, one uncle, my half-sister, brother-in-law, two nieces, and six cousins (with the always-present possibility of cousins’ significant others making an appearance). We will spend the later half of the day visiting my wonderful uncle & aunt on my maternal side who raised me from age 12-18.
Will I see any other relatives? If so, it will not be on either of those days. I love my whole family but over the years I’ve learned that you can’t spread yourself too thin. Communication goes both ways, and I can’t be the only person reaching out and making contact to try and see relatives. I just can’t do it. I spent a long time kicking myself because no one in either side of my family ever invites me to anything. I just invite myself. With parents out of the picture, there’s no one there to loop me in to plans. So since Christmas 2011, I’ve just done whatever I wanted to and it’s been freaking amazing. I know I’m still spread a little thin this year, but this is most definitely progress!
At the end of the day, Christmas is about whatever you want it to be about. For me, it’s about Jesus, family (meaning, my boyfriend and the girls), and NO STRESS!
Happy Holidays! Have you ever spread yourself too thin during the holidays? Let me know your story in the comments!