Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Wrap Up: Better Luck Next Year

As it is for most folks, this time of year is a challenge for me.  The holidays were...rough.  The situation is not unusual, but deciding where to spend time and how much to spend time over the holidays leaves me feeling inadequate and frustrated.

I adore my in-laws and I love our eight (soon to be ten!) nieces and nephews.  I am the fun aunt who will happily color, build car tracks, and practice for the holiday pageant (Aunt NGS the atheist is maybe not the best person to ask about when exactly you hold up your arm to get the congregation to respond during prayer, but I'll do my best) for hours and hours. I will walk you up the hill after sledding dozens and dozens of times.  I will sit with you and encourage you to try one new food while your mother glares at you across the room. I will do whatever it takes to be a good aunt.  But I know that it doesn't really matter if I'm not there.  The adults rarely speak to me.  I am nothing to them but a good aunt who can be trusted to babysit their children.  When we do talk, I am inevitably letting them down and they wander around to find someone else who doesn't make them uncomfortable.

My own family hardly makes me feel better.  I call to talk to my mom, but she has little to say to me. My sister sends me a text thanking me for the presents without mentioning any of them specifically.  This is the first year that my mom has been alone at Christmas - really alone - my sister is not living with her anymore and my dad is gone and I was too busy being the good aunt to be there on Christmas Day.  I think it is true that this fact bothers me much more than it bothers her, but I can't stop the guilt. I can't stop the tension. I can't stop the fact that once again, my neck is locked into place by the stress of a time of year that I know stresses everybody out.

The only light at the end of this tunnel is that at the end of it all, I get rewarded with a visit with some of my friends - real friends.  These are friends I've known forever. Friends who know it all. Friends who genuinely want me to be with them.  For those precious few hours I got to spend with them, I felt loved and happy and wanted.  And for this, I am thankful. It is a high note for me to end the season on - and maybe next year we can figure out a way so that I don't feel like staying in bed from Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve.

Right now she's sleeping adorably in her new tunnel, a Christmas present I wrapped and put under the tree.  Yes, I wrap presents for my cat.  She loves it.

2 comments:

  1. Holidays and family gatherings make me uncomfortable too. I spent a lot of energy to put some distance between myself and my family. I love em, but that doesn't mean that I want to each year revisit the close quarters I shared with them while growing up. Weddings, funerals, and graduations seem about right.

    Your nieces and nephews are lucky to have you as an aunt. Your role in their lives will increase as they in turn seek to put some distance between themselves and their immediate families.

    Life is too short to spend precious time off stressing at holidays.

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  2. I am so sorry you had a rough time. but like the previous commenter said, life is too short to stress out. Do what you love and take care of YOU first.

    HUGS!!!

    and I wrap gifts for my dog, so you're not alone. :)

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