Family Ties

imagesSo this is Christmas, I thought to myself, looking around the room at cousins I had not connected with for almost three decades.  I wasn’t certain what to expect when I invited myself to spend a few weeks with my uncle and he suggested we visit another uncle and my cousins for Christmas Day.

While I have always felt like an outsider in my family because they thought I felt I was too good for them, or better than them, when I really just wanted to escape; my mom has always felt as if she was the outcast in her family.  Her three brothers were all professionals who went to college, purchased homes, and traveled the world; conversely, my parents didn’t finish high school, moved their family around not very close to our cousins, and I did not see them after I was 10 except the rare business trip when my oldest cousin would breeze through town; twice maybe.

Growing up, I heard about my cousin’s adventures; one traveled to Australia to play soccer and got to go watch the Olympics with his dad; one studied for a year abroad in Spain; they all spent summers taking swimming lessons and going to camp; all three of the girls had big, beautiful weddings with white flowing wedding dresses, pictures on the beach, their blonde tresses flowing in the wind; there were trips to foreign countries, too numerous to name; ski vacations with their friends to the family cabin in the mountains; they were everything our family was not.

As adults, I had heard their lives were just as spectacular; much different than the disaster mine had been.  Each one was successful, happy; the girls married lawyers and other professionals; one of the boys married a very successful executive for a major network and owns a house overlooking Sea world; they own houses, have blonde haired blue-eyed children who adore them; they have loving spouses; and, they love their parents and are an intact family unit.

Needless to say, I was somewhat intimidated to visit for the holiday, even if it was only one day.  I had not seen them in years, but they all knew what my life had been like, up to and including all of the latest family drama.

Having already spent Christmas Eve with my uncle catching up and making the traditional secret family bread; we headed up the mountain early Christmas morning to visit my other uncle and my cousins.  Everybody would be there except two of my cousins, one of the twins, and the younger girl; however, the cousin I had been closest to when we had been young was going to be there along with her husband and kids.

When we walked in the door, I was overwhelmed by the warm hugs and welcomes; I was introduced to the spouse and girlfriend of my cousin K and M respectively, and reintroduced to my cousin B’s wife A whom I had met in 2001.  I barely recognized my cousins, but they warmed me and graciously invited me into their parent’s home.

There were children running all over the place opening gifts, screaming, playing, and taunting each other; it was after all, Christmas morning.  I went into the kitchen and greeted my uncle B while he was making a big breakfast for everyone; then turned around and saw my aunt P.  It was a crazy and fun madhouse.

As everyone settled in, my cousin’s K and B and Aunt P stood in the kitchen drinking mimosas cooking and catching up; they wanted to hear some stories about my life both as a child and as an adult.  I told them story after story; they were not surprised, they were somewhat saddened, though.  While my aunt knew we had a difficult life growing up, some of the stories were beyond what she saw as an outsider.

Later, my cousin K and I sat and talked for hours; she listened as I told her my woeful tale of feeling disconnected and flat, of not being able to love.  She looked at me with tears in her eyes; she stood up and hugged me, warning me to tread lightly with my relationship so I don’t end up alone.  We talked about how many times I had been in the area and had never seen or called anybody in the family for the past 20 years; she implored me not to continue the behavior.

K stood up and hugged me and I let her.

I felt incredibly warm and accepted by them, although I missed my family; my girls, my mother, sisters and brother.  The day was good, and by the time I left, I was no longer intimidated by them; they were truly no different from me.  We all embraced and said goodbye, I promised to keep in touch.

Before I left, I went to the restroom; my cousin’s 4 year-old boy was on the stairs, I asked how his Christmas was, he eyed me suspiciously and said, “I don’t like you.”  So it goes, so it goes.

8 thoughts on “Family Ties

  1. I loved this whole story and the awesome way you share your heart. Maybe you are too close. But did you not see that you met YOU on the stairs that Christmas day. Not a young silly child. Not ever one who you might think sees something only a child can see… I think that he was probably just an obstinate kid. Nothing more…. perhpas the flat little cousin that will grow up angry because he has too much!
    I was a tester kid. My dad was a VP at Mattel Toys. I mean how spoiled could I be? My cousin on the other hand… told me she didn’t get those weekly Weekly Readers because her mom (my favorite Aunt) spent all her money on cigarettes and Antiques!
    If I had only known!!! I would have sent all my Barbies to my sweet cousin! How stupid are we? My mom always packed a bunch of my old clothes for my cousin in boxes a lot and added toys… later, my cousin told me the only new barbies she ever got were ones we sent.
    It all seems kind of silly but the Weekly Reader story killed me!
    Keep in touch with K!!! She loves you. I bet she will think of you often. You are a brilliant writer… Write her a letter. Keep in touch! I love your heart!
    Forget the brat on the chairs… He is just a version of all of us with a bad attitude. lol.
    I totally see ME in him…He is going to have a hard life… cuzzz you can’t always say whatever you want in life. WHAT A BRAT!!!
    Don’t let him rob ya of what you found in K!

    • Your childhood reminds me of that of my cousins; I was so envious of them… but I did learn a few things from K that made me believe it was not as perfect as I had thought. It was not the chaotic life I had, but she was not perfectly happy, and her life was not that of a fairy tale princess like I thought.

      I fell in love with her on Christmas day and realized I have missed out on so much…

      I sincerely want to be 3-Dimensional and join the rest of the world…


  2. Firstly I am glad you arrived safely. Our internet went out last evening and stayed out at least until we went fell asleep.

    I am reminded of a question I have had for some time, and that is, “Does your family know that you write this blog?” This question has very important ramifications, not the least of which is laying time bombs where people can get angry that you have portrayed things other than they themselves have chosen to remember. What is more important is that you get out what is in your head whether your memory is perfectly accurate or not.

    A theme has emerged regularly in your blog and it is very prominent here. There is the obvious importance of certain occurrences which to me, at least, potentially mean nothing at all. I will invent something similar:

    My sister married a doctor. And I’m not married. (Neither is true.) What we could have here is jealousy that my sister married well, that she must have things, that her social life must be grand, that she has a lovely house and car, and her friends must be caring and intelligent. Where did that come from? Straight out of my ass. My sister instead could be horribly lonely because of the long hours her husband works, he might be love and be loving the receptionist, she could be getting perpetually sick from one thing or another her spouse doctor is constantly bringing home. He might beat her and yell at her and make her feel small. They might be broke either because he invests all his income into his business or because he has a kind heart and takes too many patients who cannot pay.

    My obvious point is, having married a doctor, or living in a fancy house, or whatever does not equate to what matters. Nowhere in this listing of yours of “enviable” life events of your relatives do you mention whether their lives are happy or not. THAT IS ALL THAT MATTERS. You can be a poor hermit living alone in a dusty cave and be happy and you can have all the so-called good things in life and be absolutely miserable.

    I do not find a Christmas gathering such as the one you describe to be anything but an exchange of pleasantries and well wishes and a general covering up of what is really going on in one’s life. If one is truly happy then that comes out. If one is miserable it is likely to be covered up. If you are not seeing someone regularly then you are not likely to get anything but a glossy view of what they choose to portray.

    It does sound like you had a lovely time and that you realized you were all more alike than different. Good. What saddens me is how you end your piece. If you had left off that last little paragraph you leave the impression of warm happiness. With those last two sentences you leave the impression of rejection. Usually in a story the last thing is what matters most.

    One last thing was the advice to “tread lightly with your relationship so I don’t end up alone.” That really bothers me and I’m not sure what to say. It does seem to me that if you need to tread lightly then you need something else. I don’t know the truth of the matter but I do know one should go where one does not need to be constantly careful how one behaves. That is wrong.

    • Oh, Sir, I have missed you so much the past few days. Truly.

      I had a wonderful Christmas day; they did all seem so happy with their family and spouses…not perfect, the way I had built them up in my mind, but genuinely happy.

      When I talked to my cousin, K, she told me she had issues with her parents and hated them for a while, but she is working through it; she loves them and does not want to lose them while they are fighting – I get that. More importantly, I understand they are a family with faults, scars, and history.

      As far as the ending of my story, I felt she was truly just worried about me and wanted to … possibly ensure my future with somebody she knew I loved, nothing more. She was so kind and caring to me, and, she appeared to not want to see me hurt. As for her son saying he did not like me… quirky little thing.

      My family does not know about the blog, and I suspect they never will. They do not really use the internet except for emailing and maybe some political news; period.

      I felt good about the day I spent with them, I felt loved and accepted, and I hope to see them again.


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