Christmas Traditions, Broken

For the first time since I moved to Indiana years and years ago, I did not go to my mother's parents' house in northern Indiana. We chose to take the day off. Part of me feels terrible because I'll be “in trouble” for not showing up. At the get-together last night my mom asked if I was going. I asked if it was really an option. She said “I guess it is.” So I told her that I didn't think I wanted to go.
For the past fourteen years I've driven myself to my grandmother's Christmas Eve from wherever I lived at the time, then to my mom's folks' on Christmas Day.
I thought “Man, I'm going to be thirty two years old and I've never created my own holiday traditions.” For the past seven years Charlie and I have never really done anything we wanted to do and I think it's time we did.

I do enjoy spending time with my dad's family but the trip the next day can be exhausting. Cavan is out of town so we have no one to let out the dogs. The rain is turning to snow so we could have gotten stuck in traffic or nasty weather. We didn't feel well. I woke up with a headache, Charlie's got a cold.

So many excuses. What I really feel bad about is that I picked a bad year to just sort of give up the Christmas day activities. With my aunt getting divorced and my other aunt's family falling apart (one son in jail, one diagnosed with schizophrenia – the same one with two children who are suffering with a meth addict for a mom who has three different baby-daddies) . . . I suppose I feel guilty. I didn't give anyone notice. Should I have gone this year and told them Charlie and I were going to mix things up next year? Not that it matters at this point.

Charlie just told me “No year is a good year to stop 'doing Christmas' with people.” And I realize this is true. But why did I do it now? Maybe because of all that stuff that's going on. My parents are talking about trying to advocate for these children of my cousin, legally, and were asking advice of me and an aunt on my dad's side who is a social worker last night. Like, who do they call, what's the deal with Child Protective Services, etc…

So we got up relatively early and fought our feelings of obligation all morning. Around 10:30, when we would have been leaving, the rain was still going and I said “Well, we can't exactly tie them up in my grandparents' yard.” And that was that.

We made breakfast together, then found a coffee shop that was actually open today. We stopped at a Walgreens and got some emergency dog food. One thing I've always wanted to do on Christmas is just get Indian food. So we did that and invited Scott who'd spent all day nursing a sick kitty at home. We hung out for about an hour, parted ways, returned home. We played a game of Trivial Pursuit (I won), cleaned the house up a bit, did some laundry. I'm pooped now, but I'm glad I didn't sit in a car for four hours just to spend two hours at someone's house. That sounds terrible, I know.

Next year I hope to do something similar, perhaps go to the movies and get Chinese, only without the guilt. More than anything, I'd like to get up early and make dinner again for the meals on wheels program I used to volunteer with at my old Unitarian church.


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