Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm Sad Because Vodka Popscicles Don't Freeze

A trip to Arizona for a wedding, the election,  a weekend campus visit to see two of our sons in college, a heartbreaking level of work stress, one respiratory infection, a crying jag, the discovery of Trader Joe's salads and a partridge in a pear tree. That is where I've been for the last month and the five of you who still read this blog most likely already knew it and refrained from calling in a missing person's report. I appreciate your self-restraint.

Meanwhile the words have built up inside my head to dangerous levels and this is bad news since it is time for Thanksgiving and the emotional dodgeball game that is holiday dinner at my in-laws. I've come to know it: Dysfunctional-Palooza.

I love my in-laws and they've always been good to me, but it's always been difficult for me to allow my life to be influenced or my holidays negatively affected by the off-kilter way others conduct their relationships. This year I seem to be unable to keep that from happening. The plan was to have the dinner at our house--you know--like the big kids do and have everyone plus their wheelbarrow of crazy here. One son is only here briefly and it was going to work better for him to leave from our house, rather than 45 minutes west of here after a dinner that will NOT start on time, no matter how many promises are made.

However, my MIL chose to allow my FIL to play his "heart attack" card and keep dinner out at their house. Now before you gasp at the sheer, unbridled heartlessness of that last statement, Aunt Bea, let me just tell you that this is the way my FIL operates ALL of the time. Even when his heart hasn't been stitched together with catgut and hot glue. He works hard all week long being the infante terrible of the legal world and then wants to sit out in his workshop and pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist.

Now he would like to do this again on Thanksgiving day and just pretend it's because it's due to a weak heart, rather than the fact that he's uncomfortable in other people's houses all of the time. Not to mention that I believe he's no longer on the pre-op medication that kept his moods of non-confrontational. This is no small feat given that the scotch and cigar industries took a major hit while he was under doctor's watch before his bi-pass and now those pills that made him okay with pretending that sparkling grape juice was just as satisfying as a snootful of chardonnay have probably worn off and it's every man, woman and child for himself.

Bring on the turkey coma, people. I'm hoping to lose consciousness before the BIL with the low self esteem and loose-cannon mouth says something stupid. I'm in no frame of mind to trifle with fools. My yoga instructor says that every time we encounter that family member who brings on the road rage, we should go outside and do a handstand.

At this rate I'll just have to eat my entire dinner while upside down. What about you? Who makes you crazy?


  1. I, too, have an aggressively provocative BIL, who delights in sharing every anti-Obama, anti-gay, anti-feminist platitude he picks up from Faux News. Fortunately, a family funeral in Atlanta is preempting Thanksgiving this year for my husband and his clan, so I'll have the house to myself for three lovely days. Best. Thanksgiving. EVER!!

    I remember the year my mother announced that we were starting our own family traditions for xgiving and xmas instead of being guests at the grandparents' events. What a relief that was. I hope this is your last year of dealing with The Others. You need your own special brand of crazy!

  2. Maybe you should plead job-related stress and stay home. He's not the only one who has had a brush with death in the not-too-distant past.

  3. What Nancy said in P2. Rick and I started that when the boys were babies, and we stuck to our guns. If there were any hard feelings, they were wisely kept quiet.

    Tell Mr. Rainbow to break The News that you'll all be dining at home and then send a fruit basket.

  4. I'm with Nance. Stick to your guns and kick-start your own family tradition. You can visit them at a more convenient time. Somewhere I once read that if you do things grudgingly, it adds to your resentment towards people. Recognizing this repaired how I dealt with my own family and now I have a much healthier relationship.
    Whoa. That was deep stuff for a comment. Peace to you this Thursday, however it goes.

  5. I absolutely positively agree with Nancy and Nance.

    We have had a tradition of going to my daughter's dad's family for Christmas Eve for the last umpteen years, and last year circumstances on their end prevented that from happening. I can't tell you how happy I was to not have to be at the other end of town (over 30 minutes from home) until 1 in the morning, eat dinner at 10 pm, and open gifts after midnight. Not to mention stressing out about buying gifts for people we never see and are not close to anymore. We're going to use the excuse of visiting my mom in another state to avoid going this year, and hopefully that will break the tradition for good.

    It's sad and yet maddening that you can't just be honest with people about your reasons without everyone getting hurt and being angry. Just what the holidays should be about...

  6. I know this will make you green with envy but we spend T-day alone because of the business we are here. I have had as many as 25 people think it was sad enough to spend it with me. But now I am old and crabby- leave us to our day off and we will find a nice place to eat or stay here and eat pie and ice cream and watch sh*t on the t and v. Sorry you have to go.
    Go and be at one with the alcohol and handstands....

  7. Thanksgiving has always been pretty fun for me, until the last couple of years. We always did a "friendsgiving" and it was AWESOME! Now that I have a new guy in my life, and their is HIS family to contend with, I just drink. A LOT. And split as soon as the meal is over. Wishing you the best of luck. Maybe you can start your own traditions like everyone said.

  8. Oh, thank you for your delicious in-law vent. It really satisfies. Especially since I like how you write about it.

    If it helps any, I've got a BIL from hell, too. And a forked-tongue, uber self-righteous SIL who will not rest her flapping jaw.

    And a MIL who was successful at hiding her hostility toward me (toward? towards?) from everyone BUT me. Now that dementia has set in and everybody sees. I can't decide whether I'm thrilled to be vindicated or sad and hurt that my kindness as a DIL went unappreciated. Ok, mostly I'm thrilled.

    Thankfully my spouse was on board with limiting the visits. I love him.

    All said, I agree with suggestions to cut down on your visits. Or shorten them. FIL heart attack acting up? Oh gee, really am sorry, but we're having Tgiv dinner here because now OUR children are OUR family and OUR priority. Sounds selfish, but its either you are happy tending to your own self-interest or you are miserable tending to theirs. And with that stressful job? There probably is a physical price you're paying with all this combined.

    Maybe you go because you feel sorry for your MIL being trapped there. But here's what helped me. While I'm being dutiful DIL my kids are exposed to a lot of shit. My shit because I get in foul moods as well as the inevitable in-law shit. What I wanted for my family life was relaxing good times. Zero chance there - decent chance if we cut back on the visits and stay home.

    Everyone has their reasons though and they're often valid where family emotions are concerned. So no judgement for continuing to put up with it. I find taking Valerian supplement helps me achieve that zen state I call "I don't give a fuck what you think." And taking long walks so that MIL can get her fill of alone time with her son, which is what she really wants, right?

  9. We have celebrated thanksgiving and Christmas at home for quite a few years now. My toxic MIL passed away about 10 years ago, my loud FIL passed away 2 years ago, as did my own beloved father. My mom decided not to join us this year, although she has in the past. So just the three of us, and I expect at some point, just the two of us, as my daughter is sucked into her boyfriends large and all-consuming family. I am ok with all except the last, I miss my sweet daughter and am sorry we can't seem to offer the same family experience her boyfriends family does. I have four siblings and since my dad passed away rifts have appeared in what I once smugly thought of as my happy, close family. That makes me sad, but apparently my siblings don't share in that sentiment. I miss my dad so much that I still reach for the phone to share something with him and tear up when I remember that I will never talk to him again. My mom became a different person after his death, and I don't find comfort in that. So We celebrate quietly and have our own traditions. Life is change, and we try to find the best in the present.


Be nice. It's not as hard as it sounds.