This year I did something different at my family Christmas- I drank. No surprise that with at least one bottle of wine in me, it went quite well. I’m not a big drinker at all and am somewhat of a lightweight when it comes to drinking. It hasn’t always been that way, but since I’ve been busy for the last few years trying to graduate while working, I haven’t had much of a social life which included drinking. My kid even looked at me on Christmas like I was crazy for all the wine I drank. He doesn’t get it. He’s only 16 and the questions and comments for him are about his accomplishments and short term goals- plus he walked around with his acoustic guitar, playing and hiding behind it. Now that I think about it, maybe he does get it. He probably does; he’s brilliant. My family consists of: my parents (still married), my older brother (the one giving me bunny ears) and his perfect family of a wife and two young kids (6 and 10), and my sister and her perfect family of a husband and two young kids (7 and 9). Oh, and then there’s Matthew and I, the only representation of a broken home in my entire family.
But everyone seemed to get along on Christmas and left me alone about the BIG questions. From what I can remember, there were only a couple of figurative nose breaking comments- and they were before the wine. My mom commented about me gaining weight, which is ironic because while I’ve never been tiny, my clothes are starting to get bigger. She just said what she thought would hurt me, and while I get that, it does still hurt. I actually like the way I look…And my sister (who I believe actually had good intentions) told me to set a specific goal: to be able to have Christmas at my house in two years. She actually went on about me saving up and getting a new house- a bigger house, one where I can entertain in the winter, not just the summer. Oh, I have a decent yard and can easily host an outside party. But I LOVE my house. Really it’s just a tiny old cottage, but it’s perfect for Matthew and I in every way. Sure it needs work, but the work I will do (and have been doing) on it parallels the work I’m doing on myself. My point is, that while my sister set a goal for me, in doing so she picked on my house, one of the symbols of me getting my crap together, like it’s just a replaceable “thing.” Plus, the very last thing that I would even want is to host a family Christmas party. What a mess!
I also feel really bad because I believe I may have made my own nose breaking comment to my sister about ruining the mashed potatoes by turning off the burner and letting them just sit in the water. Mashed potatoes are my second favorite food (after prime rib) and I’m a master masher. But the look on her face was one of dejection when I told her she can’t leave potatoes in water because they soak it up and make watery mashed potatoes. I fixed the potatoes, but not her, and I still feel bad. Maybe her crap is about not being able to match my master mashing…Everyone has issues with their family because we all have families and crap that goes with them. The suckiest thing about my family though, is their symbolic “picture perfect families” of a husband and wife with two kids each (a boy and girl), their new cars, their showcase houses, and their perfect image of all those “things.” But while I know that perfect image is only symbolic and that they all have crap, I feel as the only ones I can really connect with are the kids. And that sucks. It makes me think about when Matthew and I were part of that kind of married family – and how we played to the “picture perfect family” image too. But the irony in all of it, is that in the breaking of our home, Matthew and I now have a depth in our relationship which includes a real relationship that has been built on the struggles that we have overcome together, a pride in who and what we are, and the knowledge that “things” don’t matter in the bigger picture of life- it’s about knowing something’s wrong when your mom gets loaded at Christmas, it’s about acceptance and support, trust and honesty, crying and laughter, unconditional love, and knowing how to be a significant other. It’s about people and relationships, getting it, and not things.