Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Posted by Anonymous.

First, a little history. My husband and I have been dating or married since 1999. When we got married, I was slightly horrified to discover what his Christmas celebration plan looked like. He got up early on Christmas morning, raced over to his parent’s house, opened presents there and then went to his grandmother’s in the afternoon. It wound up being this non-stop marathon of a day, where he was never home. AND they never went to church. On one of the most important holidays of the year, his highly Christian family (as in, no swearing, very little drinking, prayer before meals, goes to church twice a week, etc) doesn’t go to church on Christmas. I was flabbergasted.

Anyways, when we got married, I told my husband that I wasn’t enthused about the way Christmas worked, but I would do it until we had kids. When we had kids, I wanted to make some changes so that a) the kids were able to wake up in their own beds on Christmas morning (something that I didn’t get to do as a child very often) and b) not have to be rushed through present opening, and c) not have to leave newly-opened, and hopefully much longed for presents to go to someone else’s house for more Christmas celebrations. He agreed. This is important to note: MY HUSBAND AGREED THAT WHEN WE HAD CHILDREN WE WOULD CHANGE HOW CHRISTMAS WORKED.

Fast forward to now. We have children. Two of them. A girl, E, who is 5.5 and another girl, L, who is 3.5. To date, we have done the Christmas thing roughly as described above for the last eight years. When E was born, I said “I don’t want to do Christmas like this anymore.” And then caved because she was 4 months old and as long as she had food and a pacifier, she couldn’t have cared less about what we were doing. Each year, I would mention that I was still unhappy with the Christmas craziness and every year, I would back down because the kids were too young and they wouldn’t care. Or because my parents were in town (my parents are divorced and remarried. My mom and her husband live about 20 minutes from us and my dad and his wife live in Michigan) and so things were slightly nutty anyway. I think we skipped exactly one Christmas because his mother couldn’t grasp the concept of naptime. My kids, when they napped, went to bed for nap at 1 pm. Every day. Maintaining the consistency of naptime was very important to me so that I wasn’t dealing with the Anti-Christ on Christmas evening because someone hadn’t had their nap. Now that they are older, they don’t need to nap as much and I can be more flexible.

Anyway. Last year, I said my annual “I don’t want to do Christmas like we did it last year. It’s too crazy, it’s too much. I don’t like it.” And my husband talked to his parents about potentially changing things so that we could host Christmas here or make some other arrangement so that everyone was, if not happy, at least more content. It was flatly turned down. His dad didn’t want to change things. Whatever. I bit my tongue, and worked very hard to relax through the day so that I wasn’t a vibrating ball of stress. It was a nice day. Not exactly what I wanted, but good enough.

This year, October turned to November and we started thinking about Christmas. And I said my usual piece about how much I hate the craziness of his family’s celebrations. And my husband, bless his heart, dutifully called his mother and said again that we would like to host Christmas. Or make some other arrangement so that those of us who weren’t happy with it could be happier. Or something.

-> I need to insert a small digression here.

OK. So the whole tradition of everyone trooping over to my husband’s parent’s house has its roots in his mother freaking out about running all over kingdom come on Christmas Day and deciding that everyone could come to them and they would just stay home. This was probably 30 years ago? I think? SO. You would think, if you were a logical person, that she would COMPLETELY understand where I’m coming from. Given that SHE ONCE HAD THE SAME ISSUES. Apparently not so much. Either she has COMPLETELY forgotten how her tradition came to be or she just doesn’t give a shit about my opinions, because we have told her repeatedly that I don’t like the craziness and I want to just stay home on Christmas with my family. She even SAID when we were talking about this stuff that when the time came, she would willingly change it so that WE COULD JUST STAY HOME ON CHRISTMAS. I’m not much for swearing, but WHAT THE FUCK, WOMAN?!

/Back to the story.

One of the things that my mother-in-law said to my husband was that he needed to contact his siblings (he has an older brother and a younger sister) and make sure that they were OK with the potential switch from Christmas morning at his parent’s house to Christmas morning at our house. Now, in here, the communications between my husband and me got a little garbled. What his mother said was, if your siblings are OK with it AND her slightly agoraphobic/somewhat strange/also Alzheimer’s-y parents were OK with it, then you can host Christmas. What I *heard* was “If your siblings are OK with it, it’s OK with me.” Now, I’m not sure where that message got messed up, but regardless, I’ve spent the past week and a half under the impression that I was hosting Christmas morning at our house. His family is somewhat large – there are the 3 kids and their spouses, plus my mother and father-in-law and then my 2 kids and his sister’s 3 kids, plus his mother’s parents and aunt and sometimes his mother’s brother and his girlfriend. So that’s what? 18 people? In my 1400 square foot house. And my nephew and nieces, God love ‘em, are somewhat like hyperactive bulls in a china shop. On speed. (The bulls. Not the china shop.) So, this Christmas celebration wasn’t exactly what I was looking for when I said I just wanted to stay home, but it was better than dragging my kids away from their presents at 815 because we had to get dressed and ready to go to Nana’s house.

So last night my husband calls his mother to talk about Christmas. And as the conversation progressed, I could tell that the kibosh had been put on us hosting Christmas again. This time, his mother said that she’d been dithering back and forth, trying to decide what to do. And then his dad made the executive decision that Christmas was being hosted there. Because my mother-in-law’s parents would maybe come to their house for Christmas, but they ABSOLUTELY wouldn’t come to Christmas at our house.

My husband gets off the phone and relays this information to me. And is upset because he thinks that we won’t be going to his mother’s for Christmas. At which point I lose my ever-loving mind.

The problem is this.

Well, there are actually a bunch of problems.

1) My husband is perfectly happy with things the way they are. He’s been doing this for so long, it’s how Christmas should be to him.

2) He wants to see his siblings and parents ON Christmas Day. Christmas Eve doesn’t count. (I don’t understand it either, but I’ve given up trying)

3) I don’t really want to host Christmas.

4) There isn’t a viable or acceptable alternative to the current Christmas plan.

-> Here’s another slight digression.

When my husband spoke with his brother to make sure he was OK with changing the venue of Christmas, my husband was all “E doesn’t want to do this anymore. E doesn’t like running around all over the place for Christmas. E wants to just stay home.” Which, while perfectly true, somewhat tossed me under the bus. And pissed me off. My husband hasn’t exactly grasped the concept of presenting a united front to people and so he doesn’t see anything wrong with what he said. I’m hoping I can help him see the error of his ways with that. Because OMG I was ready to smack him.

/end digression.

Now back to the problem.

So all of this boils down to the fact that I am not happy with this situation. I don’t like rushing on Christmas. I want to stay home, relax and linger over breakfast and presents. I want to stay in my pajamas if I so desire until I decide that I want to get dressed. I want to have the ability to consider going to see a movie or watching a movie. I want to watch my children open and then play with their new presents. I want to be able to wander off and take a nap if I so choose. I can’t do any of that because we have to leave the house at 1045 to get to his mom’s roughly near the 11 o’clock hour and that means we have to be done with presents by 10 and we shouldn’t have a big breakfast because his mom will be serving brunch. And if we have to be done with presents by 10, that means we should be dressed and more or less ready to go by 9. And so on.

So my choices are:

- Give it up and go with the flow. My girls don’t know any different – this is the way it’s always been.

- Or decide to make a stand and make my husband very unhappy.

- Or or have our family Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve, wherein we do the leisurely present opening, breakfast eating, potential movie watching, nap taking and relaxing the day before Christmas and then go to his parent’s on Christmas Day.

-> Yes, another digression.

We bought our house from my husband’s parents. His parents built this place back in the late 70s and when we bought it, we agreed that they could stay in the house with us until the house that they were building was sufficiently completed for them to get their Certificate of Occupancy. When we moved in, we naturally started going to the church that his parents were attending. I was 4 months pregnant with E. I wasn’t all that wild about the church, mostly because the members were mostly of the same age as my in-laws. My husband’s sister and her husband were also going to the same church, but that was about it in terms of people our age in the membership. It is a VERY small church. When E was born, I received very little support from the church. And when E reached an age where she was beginning to be a disturbance in the sanctuary during the (usually hour to hour and a half) service, I was encouraged to take her into the pastor’s office, which was attached to the back of the sanctuary. It had a speaker in the room so that I could hear what was going on, but I was still essentially told to leave.

As E became older and more active, the setup was less than optimal. Finally I asked the pastor if it might be possible to set up a small nursery somewhere so that I could take E someplace that had some toys and wasn’t equipped with printers and copiers and computers and other office equipment that is so very tempting for a mobile baby to get into. He agreed that sounded like a good idea, given that in addition to E, there was now a second baby, my nephew T in the group. That was the sum total of the child care available to us at that church. It’s been 5 years and I STILL find that appalling. When I spoke to the pastor several years (and 1 building move) later, and said the lack of Sunday School/Child care/ volunteers to watch kids/what-have-you was troubling me and making me unhappy at the church, his response was “Start a Sunday School.” THAT wasn’t my point. My point was HE was my pastor and it was HIS job to (forgive the Christian-y language) shepherd his flock and provide for their needs. After ANOTHER entire year of this, I finally had had enough. I told my husband that he was perfectly welcome to take the girls to that church, but that it was affecting my relationship with God and I had to go somewhere else. We both made it exactly one week. He agreed to leave that church and begin looking for somewhere else that would better meet the needs of our whole family, not just him.

/end digression.

This whole Christmas thing has a very strange “déjà vu” feeling for me. It feels so eerily similar to the church issue where I spent FOUR YEARS repeatedly telling my husband that I wasn’t happy with something and he repeatedly telling me he didn’t know what I wanted him to do and around and around until I finally reached my breaking point (during the church thing, I remember asking him “how long? How long is long enough? How long do I have to be unhappy at this church before it’s long enough for us to go somewhere else? Another year? Two? Because if I know how long I have to deal with this, I can do that. But I need to know how long.”) and made the decision more or less for him. Unfortunately, I can’t do that here. I can’t up and decide that I’m going to take myself out of the equation because it’s Christmas, not Sunday church services. But the fact remains that again, I’m telling my husband that I’m not happy about something and while he’s willing to work with me on this, he’s also not entirely convinced of the issue.

A big part of what brought this to such a gigantic head this year is a conversation I had while waiting to pick L up from preschool. A woman, who was there to retrieve her grandson, and I were talking about the craziness of the impending holiday season. And somehow she said that she really regretted not taking just one Christmas to spend at home with just her family. That they always did the rounds to see all the relatives and while no one complained and everyone seemed to have a good time, she really missed just taking that time. Because her kids are all grown now and have families of their own and so she doesn’t get to just spend the time with them. I desperately want to do that with my family. And I’m essentially being denied that chance.

But I know that if I put my foot down and say that I don’t want to go to his mother’s for Christmas, that my husband will go along with it, but he won’t be happy about it. And when I look for agreement that this was a nice Christmas to have, he won’t agree. Because he didn’t see his family. And I don’t want to do that. Not only because he won’t agree that my vision of the perfect Christmas isn’t the same as his, but also because I don’t want to keep him from seeing his family. And I don’t want to be “THAT girl” in this family. Though I am sure I already am. Clearly I have opinions and am not shy about expressing them.

I just don’t know what the hell to do. What do I do? Do I go along to get along? Do I cobble together an acceptable alternative? Do I give up on the perfect quiet Christmas at home? Do I tell him that he can have Christmas as he wants it as long as I get {insert other large-ish religious holiday here} the way I want it?

Also, Christmas is in a few days. How the HELL am I going to rid myself of the seething anger and hurt and sadness that comes pouring out of me at the mere MENTION of Christmas in time to be all happy happy joy joy on Christmas morning? And then continue that happy happy joy joy-ness while I’m visiting my parents in Michigan, since my stepmother LOVES this kind of conflict and will drag this out of me faster than fast? And then bring it up for YEARS to come in a pseudo-caring, but really just nosey and gossip-monger-y way?

Please help me, O citizens of the basement. I don’t know what to do. And it’s tearing me apart.

Thanks ever so much.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa Doesn't Come Anymore

Posted by Anonymous.

Christmas is just a little sadder now. Ever since I can remember, Santa came to visit on Christmas Eve at some point after we’d fallen asleep. We’d wake up to a wonderful, magical Christmas morning. I don’t know how old I was when I realized who Santa really was, but that didn’t stop me from believing in Santa. Not at all. Santa was still just as real, only the embodiment of Santa changed. Santa still came every Christmas Eve. This year I’m 37. Santa stopped coming for me a couple years ago. He sort of came the Christmas before last, but last year… Last year he faded away completely. You see, my mom was the best Santa around. She made every Christmas absolutely magical. It didn’t matter that her kids knew Santa wasn’t “real”. Santa kept coming, year after year. Even after we’d left home. Even after I’d married. Even after I had kids of my own. Santa still came for me.

The Santa part of my mom was taken by an insidious evil we call Alzheimer’s. My mom is still here. She’s still my mom and she’s, mostly, the woman she used to be. Mostly. The sending cards part of my mom has been snuffed out. The going out and picking out gifts for loved ones part of my mom has been extinguished. I can only imagine that Santa is in there somewhere. Trapped. Longing to get out and be free and play the role again. But Santa can’t.

At first I thought it was because the focus had shifted to the kids – at least that’s what I wanted to believe. But my kids are six and three. Santa still came for me when they were littler. I realized it wasn’t a decision to retire Santa. Santa was forced out by something much stronger. And with each passing Christmas it becomes more and more apparent that this malicious disease is taking more and more of my mom. Things are different. I wonder if the tree will get put up this year; if she’ll think of it. I wonder if she’ll pull out all the ornaments from years gone by and lovingly hang them from the tree. Or will my dad have to be the one this year to think of putting the tree up? I don’t think he quite realized until now how much my mom really did when it came to occasions. Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings. She was the gift-getter. She loved it. Looking for the perfect gift. The look on the faces of the recipients. Now? The task either falls on him – or gets forgotten completely.

I know this post is very sad, and it seems that Christmas has a dark cloud over it now, but I am thankful I still have my mom. And, of course, there are my kids. Santa lives on in the eyes of my children. The wonderment in their eyes is just amazing and I hope I can keep Santa alive for them, even though he’ll change form in their minds through the years, just as my mom did for so long for us.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Co-Worker From Hell

Posted by Anonymous.

Gotta get it out...

Dear C,

The following is what I cannot, for the sake of TT and both our jobs say to you but I have to get it out of my soul. Here it goes. You actually are not without a couple of redeeming qualities. You are a master at public speaking and relating to youth. Probably because you are so much closer in age but ok, well whatever. I am now, however, going to list the 50 million things I hate about you in no particular order and I wish that I had an “ANGRY” font to put it in because today I feel like I could choke the life out of you. Here goes:

#1. Your cocky, arrogant, classless attitude toward pretty much everyone around you. I’ve seen your FB posts about wanting to know why girls aren’t attracted to such a gentleman. HA! What a fuckin joke! Do you even realize that you have shoved every woman on the team (besides c, who you want to bang) to the side to get your precious front seat and that if anyone dares sit in it you fume all the way home? That you allow every door you walk in to slam into our faces? That in every presentation if you do not have command authority of every detail you sit and act like an immature child until you do? I think you are blind to your own actions and its sick!

#2. Your pathetic, incomprehensible so-called love for God. First of all, you are a man divided against yourself. You openly talk about women’s breast and naked women, yet openly talk about women who don’t bother to wear skirts to your stupid Pentecostal church. In addition, you have TWO churches. One that is super holiness and one that is grace based. So you can attend whichever one suits your needs. ARROGANT LITTLE PRICK!

#3. Your know-it-all, comprehensive attitude on any given subject. Whether it be a job I’ve applied for, or about relationships, not only did you write the book, but all people and admire you for your intelligence on the subject. Please allow me to give you a fuckin wake up call prick! Every single person on our team thinks you couldn’t hold a girlfriend if a terrorist asked you to. SHE’D RATHER BE WITH THE TERRORIST THAN AN ASSHOLE LIKE YOU! THAT IS THE TRUTH SUCKA> YOU'RE THE LAST TO KNOW YOU PRICK! That sweet girl that had it for you so bad was treated like yesterdays garbage while you threw your sick puppy eyes c’s way last Christmas. What a dumb, ignorant jerk you are. You are the exact opposite of what you say you are!

Take your God’s gift to women self and go take a short leap off a long bridge. I was the #2 producer this year despite the fact you tried every dirty handed trick in the book to plaster your name over my work! You may think I’m a washed-up mother but at the end of the day, this washed up mom got the best of you, and bested you at your own game so suck on that lemon a little while. Come back to me in 15 years when you’ve probably been through a couple of divorces and you’ve been knocked righteously off your ass. I bet your little tune will have changed dramatically. All I want to say is until then don’t procreate. I can’t think of anything sicker than another you!