I love to give gifts to people. I love to bake cookies and decorate them with festive frosting. I love to listen to Neil Diamond sing Christmas songs as we light the menorah. I just don't like to do any of these things 17 times in one day. So when the what are the Thanksgiving plans? email started circulating among my family members today I felt a twinge of sadness. Part of me will miss spending the appointed day with my mom and my siblings~ eating kugel and fretting about what the evil White Man did to the Indians ( took away our native tongue -and taught their English to our young).
The thing about having divorced parents who hate each other is that the skills you adapt during the year become so much more important during the holidays. We become masters of the monotone voice and the fake smile so whatever parent we are with doesn't start to think we favor the other parent more. We aren't swayed by the gifts they give to win our love or the ones they take away when they think they've lost our love. Detachment is our best protection.
What also happens during the holidays is that we get tired. We get cranky. It is harder to keep up the smile when we're being shuttled and flown and driven all over the place so not one parent or grandparent feels left out on the all important day. Really, how many times a day can a kid be forced to eat turkey and stuffing and still be happy? And really, now that we're adults do we still have to pretend those days were fun?
A few years ago, my husband and I decided to put an end to the madness. What was bad as a child became worse as an adult. A married couple with married siblings and divorced parents on all sides just doesn't make for good holidays. Ever. Nobody is ever happy with who is going where. So, we stopped going. It is not that we don't love our relatives. We do. We really do. We just got tired of the chaos. We got tired of having to choose which family to be with. We got tired of having to have weird conversations with the strange in-laws of whoever we chose to be with that year (and the awkward phone calls from the relatives we chose not to be with). We started a new family tradition. We pack our bags and leave town.
We stay at a fancy hotel.
We eat fancy dinners.
We buy ourselves fancy gifts.
We totally fancy it.
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