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Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Troubling Epiphany

A strange thing happened on Thursday and it's taken me a while to figure out what was so strange about it.

This is the beginning of what I call The Crazy Times when mom tries to do too much at once, overextends herself, and the stress levels go through the roof. It starts at Thanksgiving because mom is the only person in the house who can cook worth a damn, and so the stress begins early because she's up early cooking the turkey and making all the dishes.

Why does she get up early? Because for as long as I've been alive, she's needed a four-hour afternoon nap to get her through the day, and if she's cooking she can't take a nap, so we eat our big Thanksgiving meal at lunch.

Even though I can't cook, I help in other ways: I open the can of compressed biscuits that goes pop and scares mom silly; I help get the turkey ready for cooking and then later I take it out of the oven and move it to the counter without spilling hot grease all over everywhere; I get out the nice dishes to set the table; I hand-wash the dishes afterwards (mom dries them); and of course I clean the clutter off the dining room table because we don't eat at the table except for special occasions -- we eat on TV trays and our table is basically one large, low shelf for stuff.

Come, I will conceal nothing from you: a good chunk of that clutter is mine, and I really shouldn't let it get like that, and cleaning off the table a few times a year is a minor responsibility, all told.

Of course, literally HALF the stuff on the table is dad's, because he uses the table as a desk. He has piles of paper that are nearing a foot high and several feet deep. I am not kidding when I say that his stuff takes up half the table.

So Tuesday night I ask mom, "When do you want me to clear off the table?" because I want to do is before she's annoyed but I also have stuff I want to do in the meantime.

She tells me, "Don't. It's too much trouble with the clearing and the dishes and the washing after."

Surprised but pleased at this, I inquire "So we're going to eat Thanksgiving dinner on TV trays? What about all the dishes?"

"I'll put them on the counter like we do for supper. You can load up your plate and then come sit down."

Now I am all for this, because anything that spares me labor and doesn't stress mom out is peachy-keen in my book. I think it's kind of weird that we'll be eating Thanksgiving dinner while watching some canned show from Discovery Channel or Animal Planet, but whatever, I'm keen to see how this works out.

Lo and behold, the appointed day comes, and as the matriarch decreed, we did indeed laden our plates in the style of the buffet, and thence did sit upon our recliners to watch Tanked. And it was the most boring, most artificial, most "This is not Thanksgiving, this is just a turkey dinner" thing I've ever experienced. The family was there, but we weren't there as a family, you dig?

And the whole thing was weird and disappointing, but that's not what bothered me. I was instead bothered by a feeling that there was an important realization that I hadn't quite grasped, and it took me a while to grasp it.

What I finally grasped was this: This Thanksgiving dinner wasn't different from the others. It only looked like it was. 

You see, my immediate family really doesn't do bonding. Hell, we don't do activities. The last time my siblings visited was in 2012, and that was... special... in a screaming kind of way. So we really don't enjoy each other's company, we just sort of tolerate it like we're roommates.

My realization was We could be sitting at the table, eating off the fine china, and we still wouldn't be here as a family. We'd just be three people eating in silence. The only difference between then and now is that we have a television program on to distract us from the silence. 

This explains why Christmases have been miserable for me for so long. The holidays are a time of being with family and I'm living in a house with two people who don't enjoy being with each other.

Well, no wonder things are fucked up. No wonder my brother is a serial man-slut, my sister is a virgin spinster in her mid-50s, and all of my relationships have failed horribly.

No wonder I'm so miserable from now until New Year's: It's a constant reminder that everyone has a loving family and I... don't.

1 comment:

  1. That's amazingly disheartening. I'm really sorry to hear that. Everyone's family is messed up though. There's no such thing as a perfect family they're all disfunctional, some just put more fun in it.

    ReplyDelete

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