Monday, December 29, 2008

Relatives, non-relatives and the like

Christmas is behind us and all that's left are the memories. And this year's memories included some typical family-related drama. Some with our family and most with non-family (or not technically) and even some from a blast from the past. Since I'm a huge fan of human theater, this year's events supplied me with hours of entertainment and opportunities to identify behavioral stereotypes.

The Scrooges
These characters exist in my family-namely my husband and son. My husband has carried this from his childhood: perpetuated by his mother and grandmother making the holidays miserable for everyone involved. My son, however, is not technically a scrooge; he pretends to hate Christmas when in reality he actually loves it. How do I know? He takes tremendous time and effort choosing gifts. He knows what he wants to buy and won't settle for anything less. He takes time searching for the perfect stocking stuffers and wants to make sure that every Christmas tradition is in place and in tact as it has always been. He secretly enjoys everything to do about Christmas and yet complains about it every year. I just listen and secretly know it's all a huge smokescreen to cover his emotional attachment to this time of year.

The divorced parents
My daughter's boyfriends parents are divorced and both have remarried. This adds two more family dynamics to holiday drama: arranging meals and Christmases around two more families and their schedules. Honestly, it got to be almost comical. And here's the thing--they aren't even married yet. I can't imagine what will happen when and if kids are thrown into the mix. It's way to exhausting trying to keep up with all of it.

The selfish brother
This guy is unbelieveable. He expects everyone's lives to revolve around him. He won't be inconvenienced for anything and expects his entire family to foot the bill for his entertainment and activities. The odd thing is...they all do it. They pay for his way; they cater to his demands; they let him get away with wrecking their good times. He ruins their Christmas every year and they continue to let him.

The controlling sister
She still believes that even though her brothers are grown men, she has the right and the privilege of telling them what they should do and shouldn't do. She orders them around like she's the parent and expects them both to follow her orders. And guess what? They do. It's a very strange family dyanmic. I haven't figured out if it's out of guilt or some sort of duty that they follow her lead. Perhaps I never will. Of course, it causes all kinds of issues with their relationships.

The neglected mother
No matter how much time you spend with her, it's never enough. But, she won't take her time or spend her money to travel to where you live to visit you. When you come home, she expects you to be with her 24/7 and begrudges you any time you spend with any other family or friends. When you aren't with her she calls you asking when you will be back. (Note: I will NEVER be this mother..and I mean NEVER!)

The stepmother
This woman spends her time trying to win the approval of the stepchildren by making her home "fun" for them. Mind you, she's the "affair" that their father had so many years ago when he left their mother. But now, she's the "cool" stepmom. She cooks lobster. Has a hot tub. Buys them Christmas presents and talks their father into finally spending money on his children after all these years. So why wouldn't they want to be over there than at the house where they are bitched out for not being there enough?

When I was growing up, my father always said we were spending Christmas in our home and if anyone wanted to come and visit us they could. I always hated it because it was just us and the family never came (except my great-aunt). But now I understand the logic in it. We always had a drama free Christmas and didn't feel pulled and tugged every which way. It makes perfect sense now after observing what happens on the other end of the spectrum.

Happy (haha) Holidays,
Walden Fan

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