Several years ago, I got a divorce. This was rough on my family, but it was nothing compared to when I met my husband. My parents don’t approve, and never want to see me again.
What does that mean for the holidays? It means I just dropped my daughter off 15 minutes from their house. (My brother met me at the grocery store, so I didn’t have to have the awkward at-the-door exchange.)
And it means tonight they will celebrate Christmas without me. The holidays are tough when you’re estranged from your parents. Every year around Thanksgiving, I start to get anxiety, and it doesn’t end until December 26th.
It’s hard on my marriage, because my husband feels responsible. It’s hard on my kid, because she still wants to see her cousins, so she’s there, with them– but she wishes we were there, too.
How we got to be estranged isn’t really important on the holidays. It’s just one of those things that’s happened, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Trust me, I’ve tried.
But what it does mean is that while my family is unwrapping presents, hanging out around the table, watching the littles play together, and just being present, like you do this time of year, I am at home watching reruns of the office. Man, time sure doesn’t fly when you’re trying to kill it.
And it sucks. That’s the thing. When your holidays suck, and it’s out of your control, you tend to overcompensate. For example, I sent really big presents with my kid. (She loved that, she loves giving her cousins awesome stuff.) I baked a bunch of stuff and sent it with my brother.
But mostly, I just try not to think about it. Which is really hard, because I want to think about my family. I want to remember the good memories, and the Christmases from before, but they suck to remember. It’s just not fun to know that your mom wants a holiday without you.
If you’re estranged from your family, remember that you’re more than that relationship.
Find something in your life that’s good. (My marriage is pretty awesome.)
Do something nice for others. (I paid it forward in the Starbucks line.)
Or do something just for yourself. I think maybe a pedicure is in order.
Oh, and if you are someone who isn’t talking to someone in your family, stop that right now. Go call them. Shoot them a text.
They’re your family. Make an effort, and try again. No matter what.