I did some sort of internal scoff/noise of indignation/ugh fuck that, this morning when I read our word of the day.
I loved family gatherings when I was little. I suppose I was less aware of any of the difficult family stuff that was going on in the background. And when I got old enough that I was aware of it, people would normally be on their best behaviour – I could relax because it was pretty unlikely that I’d have to be there making sure my dad kept his temper in check. Also, people were generally more cheerful. Back then our family was much bigger, there were less rifts and I think everyone did genuinely enjoy getting together for big dinners or lunches or parties. (Save for some family members that have been split off from the family for as long as I can remember.)
The big family stuff was always on my dads side of the family though, and once my maternal grandmother died, there never really were any more. Christmases went from 13 people for dinner, to 5. And not that I consider it a bad thing, because right now, after telling my parents about my brother and having them acting like everything is normal and still going on about how great he is, I don’t think I could stand them.
It was my birthday recently, and even though my brother wasn’t even meant to be in the country, it was just my luck that the one week he would be flying back to the UK for, it was over my birthday (not intentional, a very crap coincidence). So, my mum decided we would have a lovely family dinner, my parents and me, and he and his fiance. I could not think of anything worse – it was sending me into a total panic. So I told my dad I didn’t want to go back to my parents for my birthday, and he understood immediately why, I didn’t even have to tell him. And he was understanding and kind and said it wasn’t a problem at all, we would just tell my brother I was going out with friends for my birthday and so couldn’t go home. It was decided and I was relieved. And then my fucking mother got involved, wouldn’t take no for an answer, and hey ho, I’m spending my birthday (which I already hate) around the dinner table with my parents and brother and his fiance, pretending everything is just lovely and we’re one happy fucking family. Ugh, it just makes me want to puke.
For several years now family gatherings have involved my parents telling people about my brother and how proud they are of him and his job, how great he is, what he’s been up to, their golden boy. And I hated that enough when they didn’t know (although actually my mum always knew – but I didn’t know for definite that she did), but now that it’s very much out in the open between us, I really can’t stand hearing them still be proud of him. So actually, while I used to enjoy it generally as a kid, I’m not sad there aren’t very many of them anymore.