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Flipping the Bird

I’ve got two siblings. A brother who is married but never had kids, and a sister who has an older teen and a little boy who is just about my big girl’s age. My brother lives the out east. My sister is somewhere in the middle. My mom’s house is in the middle, too. Until recently, we always had holidays at my mother’s house. However, the last few years that’s changed. We had Thanksgiving here in 2008; My sister had Christmas Eve. My brother hasn’t hosted in a while. His house isn’t kid-friendly. He’s got a big TV, and lots of animals. (His wife does dog rescue, so there are always plenty of forgotten animals hanging around.) He doesn’t have a single room that’s pet-free, actually. Great for him, not-so-great for someone who needs to put a baby down to sleep.

This year my mother, who still works part-time in addition to sitting for me, is working on Wednesday. She also just had a tragedy. Her long-time boyfriend’s son died of sepsis. He was 36. So sad for him and his family. Because of this, my mother didn’t get a chance to cook this weekend. She was at the funeral. She was complaining to me on Saturday that she had to work, and she wasn’t sure when she would be able to catch up with everything that needs to be done before Thursday. Okay, so I offered to host. I would prefer to host, actually. Everyone can arrive at 2 when Little Girl goes down to sleep, I figured. She wakes up at 5, eats dinner, and then we could put her back down at 7. My life would be much easier, even with all the cooking and cleaning. I called both of my siblings last night. My sister was fine with it. My brother, however, is now threatening not to come. He offered first, he says. And if I am going to host he might just “bag it” and stay at home so he can watch football. Sigh.

I tried to explain why we wanted it here. Having it here means my big girl and my sister’s little boy can play in the playroom. They have plenty of room to run around. Also, my sister wouldn’t be too far from Brooklyn in case she needs to make the trek to her in-laws’ house. (They’re still not sure who is hosting this year.) It will be easier on Mom, too, who is tired and still recovering from helping her boyfriend deal with his sudden tragedy. But he wasn’t buying it. He hung up telling me he would speak to my mother today.

Families. It’s a tough subject. You’re not just dealing with rational thought when it comes to familial issues, you’re dealing with emotion. My brother, who is in his 40s, will revert to being a child again when it comes to family stuff. We all do. Sibling rivalry never goes away. We’ll probably be old and decrepit and still be fighting over who gets their way. So how will it all turn out? I have a feeling my mom is going to side with my brother (as the only boy and a cancer survivor she tends to favor him a lot), and we’re going to end up out east. If it comes to coming to us, but not having my brother there or going there, she’s going to push us to all go there. (I am much more easily led when it comes to mommy guilt.)

And so, even today, I can see my Thanksgiving clearly in my mind. I will spend the entire time chasing my 16-month-old, and trying to find something for her to do. My big girl will read. She’s great like that. My husband will watch the baby so I can help my mom set things up. My sister-in-law will come in to a full dinner table after spending the day riding her horses. (Love her, but she’s an extreme feminist and will say, since my brother is insisting on hosting, that he should do the cooking and cleaning.) My younger sister will stop in for an hour or two having to split the day between Brooklyn and Suffolk County. And my mother? She will be happy because we’re all together. And after what happened to her boyfriend’s family last week, she’s the one who will have the greatest insight. I’m going to work on that between now and Thursday. Being grateful for what we’ve had this past year, and the promise of what’s to come.

Do you have issues when it comes to planning holidays? How do you manage to compromise? What would you do if you were me?

5 Responses to “Flipping the Bird”

  1. MarthaandMe says:

    About 18 years ago we opted out of all holidays with my husband’s family. Lots of issues involved, but there was simply no interest in compromise. We’ve never regretted it.

  2. Shari G says:

    I host a lot, actually I host mostly. This is the first holiday in a while that I am not stressed and actually looking forward to it. This is because an out of control family member who would always make me crazy, stressed, etc has been crossed off my list for hopefully forever. With that decision I magically don’t resent hosting every holiday. Actually, if things stay this way, then I will gladly host it all.

  3. Theta Mom says:

    I so related to the whole, “chasing my 16 month-old” and finding something to do…I think that’s what I dislike the most about gatherings, is when I am not in the comforts of my own home, my 14 month-old is a NIGHTMARE. I am the magician, reaching into my bag of tricks every five minutes! I so hear ya!

    BTW, thanks so much for the comment on my blog. I was actually at the doctor today for my daughter and briefly asked him the question (I told him the story) and he said it’s more likely he was allergic to a specific chemical or dye that was used in the manufacturing process of the rubber, than the rubber itself since has not shown an allergy to rubber in any other way…At any rate, the allergist will confirm, but it’s certainly food for thought…thanks again for your awesome comment. :)

  4. susan delg says:

    After the complete nightmare we had for Christmas in 2008, I wanted to plan a trip at the end of December this year instead of having the same old fights again. I’ve been dreading the holidays for the last four months — every time I turned the page on the calendar I knew the damn holidays were getting closer and closer. Had my husband not been laid off last month (*sigh*) I would definitely have pushed for a get-away in lieu of begging for the right to cook dinner for 20 people and spending $300 again. Thanksgiving with my family should be rather simple, but thinking about Christmas with my in-laws has me quivering.

  5. Kim the little sis says:

    There’s always drama when it comes to holidays. You know that. I’m easy, I don’t mind where we end up just let me know!

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