Content note: discussion of domestic violence
This year, Christmas dinner was held at my father-in-law’s house for my husband’s immediate family. There are probably 15-20 of them who show up to these things regularly, so it’s a relatively crowded affair when we get together. As an introvert, it can be somewhat stressful. Messing with my sleep schedule and being around a lot of people had my depression stirring which kept me from being at my peak. I sat for most of the event.
Other than that though, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. It’s pretty easy to talk to all of them, even the ones I’ve had arguments with on Facebook. For the most part, those pesky differences like wanting to deny people rights don’t come up. :p And when politically-charged subjects do come up, it’s in good spirit. (Except when one particular brother is there; he can be somewhat… combative. Heh.)
This might sound odd, but having a wholly positive Christmas experience (apart from my dickbag brain) is somewhat unnerving.
My mother’s family almost all have various unattended mental illnesses, and this sometimes leads to big arguments and even violence. I’ve seen a cordial Memorial Day family lunch turn into a fist fight in less than fifteen seconds. I’ve been shamed and shouted at in front of the entire family for minor indiscretions. (Probably spanked once or twice, too.) I’ve had Christmas toys taken away on the spot because whatever adult gave them to me said something to piss off my mom. I could go on this way, but I’ve managed to forget many of these occasions and I’m sure you get the idea.
I hadn’t really given this much thought until this year, but it’s also rare to have a holiday event with my dad’s family in which someone doesn’t end up angry or there’s not some kind of drama. Particularly, my dad and his brother tend to poke fun at one of their sisters, who does not take it well. She also tends to have the most drama with boyfriends and babydaddies, and of course scheduling conflicts with kids can be stressful at Christmas.
There’s not as much overt negativity with my dad’s parents and siblings as with my mother’s family, but I still don’t have a history of wholly positive holiday experiences. Someone almost always gets butthurt at somebody, there’s always at least a moment of annoyance or anger. Not so with my in-laws.
It’s not like they’re a perfect family. Obviously, every family has faults and people who aren’t invited or couldn’t come. We all have differences. But, they’re all functional enough to leave that stuff at the door when we all get together.
Another great thing is that this family doesn’t just get together on the two major holidays. There are several times throughout the year when a birthday or randomly selected holiday results in a family gathering, and those are always pleasant as well.
While it might be foreign to me, I still love it. I love my in-laws, and I’m proud to be part of their family.