Monday, November 28, 2011

I promise, I'm thankful. Just...not so much around the end of November.

I know I'm about to voice an extremely unpopular sentiment. I'm quite sure nobody is going to chime in and be all, oh, me too!

I hate Thanksgiving.

It seems popular to hate Christmas. Lots of people hate Christmas, which is a holiday I love, despite family baggage. But last week the Internet was full of posts of thankfulness and joy. It's a holiday of family and food and more food and who doesn't like that?

I just couldn't muster it. And you sound like an ingrate and an asshole hating thankfulness, right?

The thing is, I used to think it was about weight paranoia and fear of pie and everything food-related. But it isn't.

Honestly, holidays in our house were very stressful. You never knew how my dad might behave on any given day, but Thanksgiving and Christmas tended to be bad ones for him. And consequently for us.

He might drink and be belligerent. He'd certainly be moody. He'd pick on my mom. I'd fight with him because she wouldn't. I can't remember a winter holiday that wasn't stressful and fraught with emotional peril.

The best Thanksgiving I ever had was when I traipsed off to Cancun with Jen just before I started dating Nick. It was so much fun. Nothing but fun. And Latin porn.

Now we go to Nick's family in New Jersey for Thanksgiving. Even when nobody is being an asshole, there's nothing relaxing about it. Typically we drink our faces off. Self-medication, I know, I know. It wasn't an option for me this year.

And fall and winter are not my friends. The lack of light sucks out my soul. I am never at my personal best this season. And pregnancy is its own mindfuck.

Truthfully, I'm kind of struggling. Which is a whole nother post. I'm currently working on the illustrations.

So the Sunday before the holiday, Nick called his mother. He had us all on speakerphone.

Wait, let me back up. Nick has never liked her cooking. So the last several years we ordered a honey baked turkey sent to her house. So we could have delicious turkey and she wouldn't have to do a lot of work.

Turns out she hates turkey. Last year we bought turkey AND ham. They love the pork products. We figured that would make everyone happy.

This year we were told NO MEAT. She wanted to make pork roast. We could bring dessert.

And so on this call, Nick asked, as I mentally clapped my hand over his mouth, "So, mom, what should we bring?"

Before I could give her a chance to say something like "suet pudding" or "lard tart" I said, "We're bringing pumpkin and pecan pies."

Normal, traditional, delicious. No? I love pecan pie.

To which she responded, "Don't bring pumpkin pie. I HATE pumpkin pie. Nobody likes pumpkin pie."

I'm not proud of my behavior, but I will say that for me right now the line between rational and able to bite my tongue and raving batshit crazy is not so much in existence.

And so I said, "That's right! Let's just never fucking have turkey or pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving again!"

She snapped, "It's MY house and I get to have things the way I want them."

She may have said more, but I stormed upstairs, slamming doors and such. Like I said, I'm not proud of any of this.

I raged around. I threatened to stay home with Jordan so Nick would have to go and be miserable all by himself. I was very Very VERY angry. She's unreasonable and immature, yes. But I was fantasizing about fiery car crashes and the like.

Not good at all.

Nick asked me, in the interest of family harmony, to please go, and to behave nicely. We were talking in the kitchen. I was standing at the sink when he said, "We make compromises in marriage. We both do things we don't want to because they're the right thing to do. I'm asking you to do this. Do you agree that it's fair?"

I agreed it was fair, and the right thing to do. And in a small voice added petulantly, "But I just don't want to!"

We went...and most of Thanksgiving evening was incredibly uncomfortable. His mother didn't speak to or look at me except when absolutely necessary. It got better as the night went on, and later in the evening, she invited me to go shopping on Friday.

I got up the next morning, found his mother alone, and apologized for the outburst on the phone. All I could say was that I'm really emotional and irrational right now. And I don't really care about the pie.

She said that the pumpkin pie (because we brought three) turned out to be very popular. She'd had no idea.

And then we were fine.

But I fucking hate Thanksgiving.

21 comments:

  1. I hate Thanksgiving. Really I hate the whole holiday season and all the family crap that comes with it. So, you know. Solidarity. And I can't even blame pregnancy for my crankiness.

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  2. I have to say, I love that you stand up to that woman. That woman sounds so mean -- sorry Nick -- I don't mean it that way, really. But I LOVE that you don't take any of her guff.

    That kind of sounds mean, too. Sorry Nick.

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  3. I meant "that woman," not that woman. Sorry Nick.

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  4. I was just going to say, I would have brought, oh...a dozen or so pumpkin pies. Just to make a point.

    But no turkey? no pumpkin pie? That's borderline criminal...

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  5. Thanksgiving sucks. It's like going to yearly high school reunion except everyone is family instead. And family expectations and all the extra bullshit are even harder to live up to and deal with.
    I liked your reaction to her rudeness. I would have done the same. How selfish for her to tell you to bring dessert and then specifically what kind of pies you could and couldn't bring! (So glad that backfired in her face!)
    Hi 5 for you for taking one for the marriage team and going to the in-laws for dinner. You are a greater lady than I...

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  6. You and I must be cut from the same kind of cloth, because I swear to you, as soon as I got knocked up, my edit button flew right out the window.

    But seriously. She sounds like she was just being belligerent and mean spirited. She may not like pumpkin pie, but it doesn't mean that you don't. I host holidays all the time, and just because I don't like rolls doesn't mean I'm going to be all Grinchface about someone bringing them. JFC!

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  7. I hate all the holidays mostly too. I'm a little ashamed that every year I have a contingency plan in the back of my mind that I'm just going to avoid everyone and stay home alone. My family is beyond dysfunctional though. I totally would have made the compromise like you did, but I would have also made Nick make a compromise on his end... next year Thanksgiving's at your house on your terms, and if she has a problem with it, you get to give her a dose of her own medicine "It's MY house and I get to have things the way I want them." Unbelievable that anyone old enough to be Nick's mother would say something so stupidly selfish, childish and unmotherly. I hope that doesn't offend Nick... but really I would have told my own mother that she was being unreasonable after something ridiculous like that.

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  8. Perhaps Nick lets Lisa's mother live with them year round, and so one weekend trip a year to the other in-laws isn't so out of balance.

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  9. You have a huge heart, dont ever doubt that. Glad you were able to be with family for Thanksgiving, especially since it was important to Nick.

    When life gives you lemons, make lemonade...or add vodka and throw a party...or squeeze the lemons in life's face and say 'Take that!' Sounds like you did all 3 this thanksgiving, well done. Hugs!

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  10. No turkey?!?! No pumpkin pie!?!? Bryan is allergic to poultry, and even he doesn't ask people to not make turkey! Your MIL sounds like a real piece of work. We should put her in the same room with my MIL and let the crappy MILs entertain each other while we avoid having to do anything with them! :)

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  11. My 2 favorite Thanksgivings were the ones that I had to work. One I split a bottle of Wild Turkey (in honor of the holiday) with a co-worker and the other I went and gambled at the casino next door to the casino I worked at by myself. It was absolutely wonderful! This year I spent as much time hiding from my family at the barn drinking beer and pretending I was working on fences.

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  12. bahaha! you make me laugh.

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  13. You have every right to hate Thanksgiving. Families can be so toxic. And families, more than any other relationship, force us to keep learning the lesson (over and over and over) that sometimes we have to do things we really don't want to do. Good for you for being a big girl about it because you love Nick. And I'm glad your MIL was big enough to admit she was wrong too.

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  14. Julie - Thank you for the solidarity. I've hated most Thanksgivings I can remember, and I can only blame pregnancy twice.

    freckledk - She can be very mean. She has a kind heart, and I can recognize that when I'm not enraged. But she can definitely be mean. And so can I. It's not helpful.

    Tempest - I had a lot of revenge fantasies. The truth is, she didn't say a thing when she pulled out the pies. If I hadn't made a big deal out of it, she wouldn't have either.

    K-Tee - Yes, you are right - so much family expectation and bullshit. My father would have reacted the same way if we were bringing something he didn't like, I'm pretty sure. It's very narcissistic and infuriating. And it wasn't worth jeopardizing my marriage just because I was angry. Nick does a lot lot lot for me and my mom and this was really important to him. Marriage is a fuckload of compromise. I had no idea.

    Guacaholic - That's a great way to put it. I have no edit button. None.

    And yes, I agree, she was being belligerent and mean spirited. I don't know why Nick asked, because if we'd just turned up with them, it would've been fine. And if I hadn't said anything, and she'd expressed a preference that we then ignored, it would've been fine too. But I just couldn't keep my mouth shut.

    Megan - I would LOVE to avoid Thanksgiving completely. If I could stay home alone and watch movies, I would be delighted. The problem is that his sisters and their families are up there as well, and it is the one time a year that we go up and see everyone. It would be ridiculous to ask them to travel, and frankly, we don't have the space in our house for them all to come stay here. Nor do I have the generosity of spirit. The problem is that she has always gotten away with it when she behaves badly. Nobody tells her to cut it the fuck out. And so if you think your behavior is fine, why change?

    Fromage - Nobody but me actually suggested NOT seeing them. They're simply commenting on my MIL's admittedly bad behavior.

    HK - Thank you, my friend. I do want to have a decent relationship with them, because it is important to Nick.

    And you are so cute! Hugs to you!

    Tia - You know, the thing is I don't even love pumpkin pie. I do, however, really like turkey. Next year, we are bringing turkey. Not in an antagonistic way. She can cook whatever she wants. But I want turkey.

    Jocelyn - I bet those were fun. As I said above, I'd be delighted to be all by myself. I know people get horrified at the idea of anyone alone for Thanksgiving...but I'd be great with it.

    stacy - Thanks. :)

    Keenie Beanie - Yes. Families can be more toxic than anyone. And you're just supposed to suck it up and take it in the spirit of family togetherness for the holidays. It really did wind up being fine. It's still stressful though, even when things are calm and fine.

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  15. I'm apathetic about thanksgiving. Truth be told, if I hate something atleast I know I feel some sort of an emotion towards it, however violent. But thanksgiving.

    I. Simply. Don't. Care.

    Not that I'm not thankful for things at different times, but yeah....

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  16. I love that you brought 3 pumpkin pies!

    If you want to find out why she's being a bitch ask her what Thanksgiving was like when she was a child. EVERYBODY has baggage. Some people have steamer trunks.

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  17. I'm right there with you with the holiday stress. My brother is the one that we have to wonder about every year. When will he go off? How bad will it be? Ugh. (Mental illness sucks)

    I'm proud to say that this year we all had a great time at Thanksgiving and my brother didn't ruin it!!! (I'm 40 and this is a FIRST). I guess both my mom and my brother's wife thanked him afterward. True to form, he was totally confused at why he was being thanked. My mom, god bless her, said "Well, honey, we're thanking you because you usually make us fucking miserable on holidays!"

    And I am SO PROUD of you for bringing 3 pumpkin pies!

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  18. That gentleman's lady - I think that's fine. The only one I get excited about is Christmas, but even that one, I'd never had a tree till last year and I don't decorate.

    lacochran - She's British, so no Thanksgiving, but yes, I am certain this behavior goes back to childhood. It always does with all of us.

    And there was only one pumpkin. One pecan and one apple. Three pumpkin pies makes me laugh. That would've been harsh.

    cla517 - Yes, mental illness is terrible, and everyone else winds up working around that person. I'm sorry about that.

    And I LOVE that your mom said that! She graciously thanked him, and then when asked, explained why! Awesome!

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  19. I'm so sorry the holidays stink for you. Perhaps, years from now, after you've created rituals with Jordan and #2, they'll take on an entirely different feel.

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  20. I love the holidays and christmas etc but thats probably because I dont have any family to contend with. Dynamo guys family are all really nice so it's easy to spend time with them.

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  21. I love Thanksgiving, but I had the good fortune to be born into a totally, happy, nauseatingly loving family that I love spending time with. It's a bummer you don't enjoy it, but maybe you guys could start your own Thanksgiving tradition -- instead of being miserable up in NJ every year, I think you should just blow town and take an annual Thanksgiving trip to some warm beach where your Thanksgiving dinner consists of conch fritters and fruity umbrella drinks. Marriage is about compromise, but it doesn't really seem like Nick has such a great time at his parents' house either, so who is benefitting from this compromise? Seems like a lose/lose.

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