With the kids off of school Wednesday, I took off and had a little five day weekend to recharge my batteries, and it was mostly good. We got the Christmas lights up, the tree and house decorated, got in the garage gym a few times, and bottled 50 bottles worth of raspberry and tart cherry wine. Holly and I spent some good time together, but rarely alone (except for that time we went to Costco for a bit, and one night where we neither of us fell asleep too early). However, mission accomplished – turned off brain about stressful work environment the last couple months (and will continue to be for the next couple months). Batteries recharged… for now.
The part that sucked the life out of me at various times were the three family Thanksgivings we felt we had to go to, standard for the holiday. Holly’s dad and mom divorced, so that meant one with her dad and step-mom; one with her mom and brothers’ families (at our house) and one at my parents (the hoarders), not in that order. A few highlights:
T-day #1 (Thursday) – my wife and I worked out together in the morning, a great start to the day. All we had to bring was salad – easy. Her dad and step-mom got married a long time ago (25-30 years, not sure the exact number) and both had three kids, so was sort of like the Brady bunch with three girls and three boys…though they didn’t all live together. However, with family spread out and a nurse working evenings, the only attendees were our family and her two brothers’ family. This is my favorite Thanksgiving of the three, and we generally have some good conversation, good food, in-law homebrew wine while the kids all run around.
This year wasn’t too much different, except a few less people, and ones we see semi-regularly anyway. See, Holly and her bros all live within 25 minutes of each other (along with my parents, and her mom who lives 2 minutes away), so it’s not like we aren’t doing cookouts and birthdays and stuff together. Anyway, the kids were loud, and only allowed in a small area of the large Victorian house (rightfully so), but the hollering and lack of kids’ activities – oh and the two dogs (BIL brought his dog to the crazy house) running around was stressful in its own right. After eating five buns, son LoudBoy had a complete meltdown for maybe 45 minutes (we don’t eat flour, we think this contributed) that was funny but less than fun. This was the best of the group, but I never really felt relaxed with all the stuff going on.
T-Day #2 (Saturday) – After a day reprieve on Friday where Holly spent Black Friday thrift store shopping and I took care of a bunch of projects, we were really in the fray with my parents. I’ve mentioned my parents’ hoarding before. It used to not be like that (started to realize this wasn’t normal in high school), but they haven’t thrown anything away in 20 years and continue to buy shit at garage sales. We all have our blind-spots about ourselves but my parents are sick in the head. They have a semi-habitable living room (not exactly a compliment), a destruction of a dining room (complete with broken chandelier lamp for the last 10 years – it’s a $10 replacement people!), bedrooms that are disgusting (think: beds sort of cleared, but shit piled to the ceiling around it – games, toys, books, furniture.. including the kids room – NO we are not letting our kids sleep over..ever again) and a kitchen that would grade “F” in health code violations. Needless to say, Holly was super thrilled about going over there.
So I always have a tough internal battle over going home. On one hand, they weren’t always this bad. I had a happy childhood and my parents are really good people. On the other hand, they have an illness, and despite my dad being retired he doesn’t DO ANYTHING ABOUT THIS SHIT! It is so gross. We have some family drama (and I recognize everyone has family drama).
I’ll back up for a second: I have two brothers, I am the oldest at 37, and they are 35 and 33. For some reason, I exceeded at life; got nearly a 4.0 in high school, state qualifier in a HS sport, roughly a 3.5 in a STEM field in a D1 prestigious college,married a hottie who had a D1 women’s sport scholarship, did shit like MMA, Ironman triathlon (qualified for Kona), friends with pro athletes and writers, have great kids and family life. Seriously lucky, but work my ass for that, it’s inherent in my personality. My brothers are both sort of fuck-ups in their own right. Brother #2 (B2) and B3 both went to the same school. Both tried the hard major, but both were fucking around too much and ended up both in an easier major on the semi-same track. B2 was reasonably successful early on, traveled for work, made some coin, but never really found “love.” B3 (AKA “the baby”) couldn’t find a job after graduation and lived at home with my parents for over a year. Finally got a job and moved out.
B2 went on to find a wife, spit out three kids, despite a wife that he though for sure she was cheating (she was), and was depressed for years. In the last year, despite our cries for him to get help for years prior, finally gave up drinking. Because he almost died in various ways. Bleeding stomach, destroyed liver; ended up in the ER multiple times, ended up divorced, bankrupt, destroyed and pretty much dead. He seems to have come out of it, and went from a dark hole I didn’t know back to someone that I at least recognize. But his kids are fucked up. Kid #1 (son) has allegedly a million food allergies, but instead of feeding him paleo, they still feed him shit. Kid #2 (daughter) is the most normal, seems like a nice kid. But I think she’ll carry the divorce experience and B2’s alcholism with her as baggage through her life. Kid #3 is somewhere around 4 years old, and still wears a diaper because he shits his pants still.
A few other goodies here, but B2 basically can’t work due to health issues from his alcoholism results, so sucks off the government teet. Oh, but the have three tablets (one for him, one for the kids, and one for him), and has bought two guns in the last month for fun. Lovely. Oh, and let’s not forget their pet. No, not a cat, or a hamster, but a fucking PIG (actual pig below). Why? Not sure, attention is our guess.
We walked into my parents and it smelled like a barn, ammonia smell killing the nostrils. Because the pig has a litter box, right next to the dining area; that apparently doesn’t get emptied often, or used as much as it should be. Because the pig had multiple turds under the dining room table. So gross.
B3 is a bachelor and has been for life. Had his heart broken back in roughly 2000 or 2001 and hasn’t had a girlfriend that I know of since. Older bar whores and the like, but that’s probably been years. Videogames and porn has been his outlet. So sad. At 6’6″ he’s always been a huge dude, but instead of nailing the hottest girl in high school (he was), he’s a million pounds. I asked him what he weighed on T-day#2 and he laughed (he’s a fat funny guy, one of those types) and said “two.” I asked “two tons? Or two people?” Not the nicest thing, but it’s not like I haven’t tried to reach out to him and set him on the right track. He’s headed down the same track, but worse, than B2 as in he’s probably an alchy, is about 200# overweight and looked worse than I’ve ever seen.
So we had a few laughs with my bros, while Holly and Birdsnest huddled up on the least-worst Lazy Boy, protecting each other from the shit-storm that is my parent’s house. We ate some turkey and other fixin’s that met our requirements and got out of there. It fucking sucked. Can’t wait ’til Christmas!
T-Day #3 (Sunday) – Just wrapped this up, was somewhere between #1 and 2, but much closer to #1. We held it at our house, since MIL has a small apartment in an older than 55 community, so less than ideal in a 400 SF space with five kids and six adults. Worked for us, we have a better layout and are 2 minutes away from her, who is “hosting” this event. Holly and her mom worked to get all food ready and despite a “come at noon” request, both brothers (and wife and kids, who I get along with well and like) didn’t come until nearly 1:00 (planned dinner). And both brought their dogs (I knew this was coming). One dog is a Besinji, a semi-domesticated African hunting dog similar to a Dingo, the other a hound puppy. Disaster. Besinji and hound hated each other (Dum-Dum, our dog, liked both dogs). One IL had to leave and take hound home (45 minute round trip), missed dinner with the rest of the Fam. Kids, per usual, were super loud, but at least played outside for awhile. LoudBoy got in trouble for showing his penis off to his cousins (lead by only-child cousin going through some family stuff right now). Overall, not too bad, and had some laughs on life with Holly’s siblings and mom, but still somewhat of a pain to have everyone over, cleaning, hosting, etc. But compared to my nightmare of a mom/dad home, it was heaven.
Even before we started the fun “holiday” weekend, my wife and I talked about cutting this shit back…hard. I realized I need to Captain-UP and make next year different as it has gotten to be too much. Maybe we swap out holidays or something. I really do like all our family, but again, it’s not like we don’t see these people a fair amount over the year. It is EXTREMELY stressful to deal with holidays, and we’re ready to start our own tradition here.. very mixed feelings about this, as can be expected. Anyway, we plan to have our own T-day (just wife, kids, maybe single MIL – we did this one time about five years back and it was magnificent) next year and say F-You in a nice way to everyone else. We’ll still see everyone for Christmas (at least for now, it’s really hard for us to go to my parents…and we’ve had my family Christmas at our house some years because of this).
It’s almost too much stress in a short time… and not like we’re not dealing with our own shit. It’s been an extremely trying year for us and it’s a testament to my wife and kids and I that we’ve kept things so much on an even keel and so good despite these obstacles. But not sure we can handle another year like this one. In reality, I’d like to kill Thanksgiving with anyone but my own family for good. I’d wouldn’t mind seeing any or all of the family over the weekend, but without the obligation and expectations that seem to go along with Thanksgiving dinner, and as long as we don’t have to visit the hoarding house.
Anyone else feel this way in general about the holidays or specifically about parents that have lost it hoarding? Is it any wonder we as a society tend to stress about the holidays and drink more than our allotment during this time?