So today is Thanksgiving. A day to be thankful for what we have before we go out and trample people for more stuff tomorrow. This time of year is particularly hard for me. I love the holidays, to a degree. I love decorating but I hate how nasty and selfish people have become around this time of year.
I love buying and wrapping Christmas presents. I love baking. I love helping my mom in the kitchen. I love all the holiday crafts and handmade gifts. I love the kids I work with, I love seeing how excited they get. I love watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (I’m watching it while I type this) and when we get blessed with a white Christmas, I love the snow (it snowed yesterday) but I hate this time of year with a passion.
My grandfather whom I wasn’t terribly close to passed away around this time of year 10 years ago, his birthday would’ve been two weeks. It was around this time of year 3 years ago that my dad announced he’d been having an affair and asked my mom for a divorce. I spent most of the holiday season holed up in my room because I couldn’t deal with his absence and the ensuing heartbreak. I’ve never been such an emotional wreck.
In the last year and a half, my maternal grandfather’s health has been in serious decline. He was diagnosed with glaucoma so he’s mostly blind now. Then he started forgetting things and was diagnosed with dementia. Last year during one of our snow storms, he fell and broke his hip. While he was in the hospital, it was revealed that he’d had a series of strokes that had gone completely undiagnosed and the brain damage had led to Alzheimers. We had long suspected such a diagnosis so it wasn’t necessarily a surprise but it seems like his health has declined rapidly since then.
So much has changed since my grandfather became ill. I don’t know what Thanksgiving is going to be like. I haven’t seen or talked to my dad. My uncle, who’d more or less become the family patriarch has a lot of addiction issues and we’re currently not on speaking terms with him.
When this time of year is so family-centric, it’s hard to enjoy it, since my family is so broken and scattered. I come from a considerably larger family but most of them, despite living in the same town as me, have never met me and have no interest in doing so since my grandfather, whose Irish, dared to marry an Italian woman, I don’t have a lot of siblings (only one brother) and very few cousins. Most of my cousins are considerably older than me, being second and third cousins of my moms and the cousins that are around my age, are all my dad’s family, who I don’t have any relationship with since my dad left (not that we had the greatest relationship beforehand).
This time of year makes me so envious of all the people who get to post long and often excessive posts on facebook about their family and goofy photos with everyone gathered around watching football or carving the turkey. I don’t have that and while it doesn’t normally bother me, this time of year, seeing all the happy family celebrations, it really gets under my skin. I know I should be grateful that my parents and grandparents are still alive, and I am, but I think the worst loss you can experience is someone whose still alive.
I know it seems silly to mourn people you’ve never known but it makes me so angry that they want nothing to do with us because we’re half Italian. I cannot control the circumstances of my birth but I can’t help but wonder, if they met me and didn’t know we were related, would they like me? Do I look like any of them? Are any of them creative like me?
I don’t honestly know which family I look like or where my artistic inclination comes from and I can’t help but wonder if it comes from these people who hate me because of who my grandfather chose to marry. My grandfather’s parents have long since passed away and most of his siblings too so the surviving family that is carrying on this vendetta do so blindly and it makes me so angry that they would deny me.
I’ve never known those big family dinners. I’ve never had a favorite uncle or crazy relative that spoils me for no reason. I’ve never had an abundance of children to play with or nieces and nephews to dote on and it makes me sad, being bombarded with all this “family” stuff this time of year, knowing I don’t have that.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the family I do have but it seems like everything bad happens around this time of year and it makes it hard to feel happy or grateful for who and what I do have. It’s definitely a bittersweet time of year and one I tend to go autopilot on.