It's been 8 years since my mother's family has gotten together to celebrate Christmas. Other than the occasional wedding, there's been no other time for years that she's gotten together with her brothers and sister. She has one brother who she's close to, but that still leaves three other siblings that, quite frankly, might as well not exist. That sounds harsh, but sometimes I feel like I have no extended family.
What's worse is that this isn't simply a case of families drifting apart and growing up. My Mom phrased it as "dirty laundry" that keeps her family from having any sort of normal existance. To put it bluntly, my mom and her siblings had a pretty bad childhood, and my mom actually had it worse than anyone else. To give you some idea, my uncle (who is close to my mom), went to my grandfather's grave shortly after he died, spit on it, and said "I'll never be like you." That's pretty harsh when your father makes you say that about him. It's been within the past few years that I've really come to understand what divides my mother's family. As a child I thought her family wasn't close simply because they annoyed each other. But no I understand the really tension.
It's so sad. One, to know what my mother went through breaks my heart and fills me with rage all at the same time. I grew up being sorry I never met my one grandfather, now, knowing the truth, in a way I'm thankful that he died before I was born. Two, it's sad that my mother's family is so torn and they all don't even have the whole story. It's probably true that bringing out the truth would most likely do more harm than good, but I can't stop feeling like it's what everyone deserves. Three, it's sad that I almost feel closer to my wife's extended family than my own, eveen though an ocean divides us. Don't get me wrong, it's a very good thing that I've connectted with her family, but I look at them my almost jealous eyes and wonder why I can't have that same relationship with people less than an hour away.
I suppose in a way this has helped my mother become more focussed on the immediate family and on her children. I have a great mom. She has given my sisters and I so much love. I'm truly very lucky.
I'm a little lost. I don't when people don't have the entire story. I want to go up the my uncles and aunt and just be like "HEY! THIS is why you all don't get along!" And my utopian vision then shows my mother's family all going "OH! That explains so much! We understand now that we grew up in a horrible household with a terrible father and we can come to terms with that together as a family." But realistically, the space would grow even larger between them if I did that (and it would terribly upset my mother). So I'm left looking at my uncles and aunt feeling as though I have nothing to say to them because they don't know everything, so therefore, cannot possibly understand who I am and who my family is. It's a terrible feeling. I suppose I should just push it down into my soul and just be willing to make the usual mindless small-talk with them that all other extended families do this time of year.
If you're close to your aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., I envy you. Make the most of your relationships this holiday season and into the new year. And if you know how to deal with a skeleton in the closet, let me know.