Home for the holidays

Two different takes on seeing family this time of year…
from SLB at Post Bourgie:

Whenever I go back there, I never quite know what to say. How do you answer for why you’re not in one of those townhomes? You, who insisted on going around the mulberry bush to get a couple of degrees instead of just stacking paper at the post office right out of high school? How do you return to a school reunion and tell your homeowning, child-rearing former classmates that you live on your fam’s couch while you’re building your curriculum vitae?

and from Antigone at PunkAssBlog:

Unpleasant aspects number two: This has been a problem for awhile now, but now that Hubby and I are married, it’s put into even sharper relief: where are we going to spend Christmas? The various families all want us at their houses*, which are functionally on the other end of the country. The worst part of all of this? I don’t want to go to ANY of the family for Christmas; because by some sort of unspoken contract that I was not a party to, we are only allowed to talk about: the weather, sports, new births, new relationships (on a very shallow level, and no talking about heartbreak), new jobs and food. Oh, and I’m no longer allowed to talk about the weather because I keep using meteorological terms and I brought up global warming once. I’m also forbidden from talking about, in no particular order: politics, books, movies, social movements, college, and the biggest one: religion.

Sure, you can go home again. But for some of us, it’s pretty damn uncomfortable.

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53 Comments

  1. Jadelyn
    Posted November 28, 2008 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    As once happened when my (feminist and progressive) mom and I were visiting her (Mormon and conservative) family a few years ago and talk about politics started to come up: Mom stands up and says, “Well, Jade and I are going to run to Starbucks and let you all sit around and agree with each other. Does anyone want anything?” The politics talk stopped immediately.

  2. KatieinNewYork
    Posted November 28, 2008 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    That is a hilarious response. I have republican roommates, so I’ll have to start using it.
    This post makes me really thankful for my family – nothing is off limits for conversation, and everyone is hilarious. Any visiting friends or significant others generally spend the meals wide-eyed and blushing.

  3. allegra
    Posted November 28, 2008 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Heh. Thanks for this post. As unfortunate as it is, I never did and still don’t get along with my mom, who raised me while my dad worked full-time. She suffers from some kind of serious psychological disorders (probably depression, bipolar, some kind of antisocial disorder) that she won’t acknowledge and refuses to get treated, and it just makes our entire family, including my dad, miserable at the holidays. She’s verbally and emotionally abusive, rags on me and makes me feel guilty for taking anti-depressant meds, puts down my school achievements (I’m a grad student), constantly projects failure for me and my brother, and reminds me that I might get into a terrible accident and die or get abducted and killed every time I leave the house, and then won’t I feel bad when she has to go identify my body.
    Boy. I wish I was kidding.

  4. ledholm
    Posted November 28, 2008 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    I sometimes sort of miss my family when I am away at school, but once I’m home for the holidays I remember why I choose to go somewhere on the other side of the country. Besides making me feel like I’m wasting my collegiate career on, as my father decided to refer to it, “victimology” (I’m a Women’s Studies major) they at every turn try and make me feel as uncomfortable as possible about my liberal views while shoving their religious, conservative views down my throat. Plus, with Obama as the President-Elect, and my older, normal “non-feminazi” married sister expecting a baby (which I was forcefully reminded never to refer to as a fetus), this Thanksgiving was even more awful then normal. At least they had the passing of Prop 8 to joke about and make them feel better…

  5. Jennifer
    Posted November 28, 2008 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like bi-polar disorder. My grandmother suffered from it, and so does my father. In fact, he is on disability for it – since he is such an asshole he can’t get or keep a job. What you described sounds exactly like my father. I am almost in tears thinking about what you must have gone through over the years, as I recall my own memories.

  6. Jennifer
    Posted November 28, 2008 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always hated holidays. Being in my parents’ house or anywhere need them for any amount of time is and was like being in a prison. I do not have “warm fuzzies” about holidays because even as a child, they were made to be miserable by a verbally and emotionally abusive father and an inconsiderate, selfish mother who was in denial anything was wrong.

  7. meeneecat
    Posted November 28, 2008 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Oh Antigone, I’m so sorry your family treats you like this! Although, I really can’t say my family is any better. First of all, I love my family, however often I don’t see eye to eye with then on important issues. Values are pretty traditional in my family and so topics of conversation should never venture into the controversial or “diverse” points of view.
    I have two (straight) siblings who recently just got engaged. Their spouses are invited to holiday dinners and gatherings and were accepted as part of the family immediately…However, because my family rejects the idea of lesbian (and gay as well) relationships. I am not allowed to have my girlfriend over for dinners, events, family gatherings, or anything else…ever! I was told “you can’t have her over the house ever…you understand?”…Oh yeah, I understand completely. I am being denied my humanity, my right to love who I want and express that in my own home, because of some hypocritical “moral” argument. At holidays especially, my siblings, enjoy their straight privileges while making sure that I’m fully aware of their privilege while making me fully aware of my relative position;
    “get a man”
    that’s not normal”
    “stop making everyone else miserable, it’s obvious that you’re just trying to ruin christmas/thanksgiving/family event/etc. for everyone else who doesn’t want to have to see it”
    My siblings think they are on some sort of “moral high ground” and are better than me because their love is embraced by everyone, while with me, it’s the exact opposite. True, it’s a choice I make to be with my family during holidays, so I’m sure some people would say I have no right to complain, but at the same time I’m denied my humanity and my right to love, and that can never be right.
    (btw, I have to admit, I secretly hope there will be a change in attitude eventually”)

  8. Ellie
    Posted November 28, 2008 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Luckily this year wasn’t as awkward as previous years have been. There were some times where I felt uncomfortable but wasn’t too bad as I didn’t really have Thanksgiving with a bunch of my family and just the immediate three. My bro went to his wife’s parents’ for Thanksgiving but it all worked out. Sorry to hear about everyone else’s awkwardness…es. :o /

  9. allegra
    Posted November 28, 2008 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Thank you so much. I’ve never had anyone actually tell me they shared an experience with a parent like that. My mom’s the same way – she’s never held down a job her entire life! But she doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs. She’s just … normally … either totally strung out, high anxiety, complaining about what a great stressful ordeal some tiny task or problem is – or lying in bed.
    Of course, my parents’ relationship is fucked, too – my dad constantly gives her hell for not having a job, which pisses me off and doesn’t help at all (she did raise me and my brother). And there’s no jobs in their town anyway.
    I’ve tried to keep the fact that I’m on an anti-depressant from both of them because Mom actually flips out – like, has tantrums, huffs around, calls me names, asks what’s wrong with me, refuses to talk about ANYTHING else or to talk seriously about it – and because I feel guilty trying to explain to them that our home life has been at least partly to blame for my current anxiety.
    It’ll never change. I’ve just learned to cope with it, I guess, and ignore it, and to try to understand it, and to stay far away for as long as I can between “holidays.” :o )

  10. Kiboko
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I LOVE this post. And I can empathize with both people.
    1) While I do live 2 hours from my family and live in a house of my own…I have a BS and an MS in Biology – I taught for 3 years (hated it), now I work in a lab and am taking pre-reqs for another MS in Computer Science. I have few people in my life that “get” why I am doing this. Lately I’ve been given gems such as “Why aren’t you happy with one MS?” “Why would you quit teaching, it seems so easy?” and my favorite “If you would just settle down and have a baby, you wouldn’t be so worried about all of this.” *sigh*
    2) My sig other and I decided to nix the insane Thanksgiving trek this year to visit both families, using the excuse that we both had exams and projects to work on (which is the truth). Because instead of enjoying the time with the family, I am stressed out and prone to panic attacks when we hit the familial city limits.
    My family is OK for the most part, as long as my grandmother can keep quiet about “those liberals” and my mom isn’t being passive aggressive (I too think she is suffering from some undiagnosed depression or something) and gets mad that we have to leave to drive 4 hours to see “his” family – or Whomever forbid – we have to have Thanksgiving/Christmas on another day because of it.
    But his family is dreadful…because I am put on “good behavior” and I always find myself feeling awkward , out of place, or as with several occasions stopped the conversation with my WILD ideas of “Um, no thanks, I can carry this.”, “Well, an interest in history isn’t something that is purely prescribed on the Y chromosome.”, “No, I never liked pink or played with Barbies.”, “Why in the Disney Princess collection does Snow White have a thicker midsection, and sporting a ‘one piece painted on bathing suit’ under her dress while Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty have tiny waists and have ‘two piece paint ons’.”, “Um – excuse me? Explain to me your thoughts on ‘women drivers’ again?”, or my favorite “It’s not ‘MEXICANS’ – the Hispanic population represents MANY countries, and what’s WRONG with being from Mexico? – AND where did you get THAT wonderful stereotype from?!” and those are just a few off hand (I won’t get into the moving debacle – where his family thought I was such a “She-man” for helping lift & move my own sh*t! and told us that we “packed the truck like a bunch of Mexicans” – wtf-ever that means – so again, the “Mexican” statement came up…).
    Instead of the stress, packing us & the dogs, and driving crowded interstates, we stayed in. We went to a park, we watch a movie, we ate, we studied – it was PERFECT and I was able to think of why I am thankful…instead of feeling ungrateful and mad during the entire holiday.

  11. Kiboko
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    meeneecat – I’m so sorry…I’m finding it hard to articulate anything else…the judgement and the double standard, I’m sorry that is what you have to prepare yourself for when you head home for the holidays. Your sibling’s remarks are infuriating! They don’t want to see you happy? That you have found love? Even if it is your choice to go home – it is their choice to judge, when all you want is to spend time with your family. You are a very strong person and it takes courage to go in and face such a situation!

  12. lu
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Oh man I was JUST writing about this (uncomfortable holidays). Although my reasons were pretty different it can still be the worst way to kick of the holidays. I am lucky in that a lot of my family is pretty ideologically aligned with me, but as for the rest . . . Let’s just say we make it awkward enough being a biracial educated (PHD, law school) couple with a out-of-wedlock baby without even opening our moths to share our opinions!

  13. lu
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Oh man I was JUST writing about this (uncomfortable holidays). Although my reasons were pretty different it can still be the worst way to kick of the holidays. I am lucky in that a lot of my family is pretty ideologically aligned with me, but as for the rest . . . Let’s just say we make it awkward enough being a biracial educated (PHD, law school) couple with a out-of-wedlock baby without even opening our moths to share our opinions!

  14. molly
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    The individuals in my family are actually really cool, but holidays seem to bring out the freaky in the group dynamic, and I hate having to see all the people I don’t particularly care about while hardly speaking with those I really want to see. We live in another state, so my husband and I can simply not go ‘home’ for any of the holidays. Instead, ever since we moved away for our various grad programs when we were dating, we’ve celebrated Christmas by waking up to champagne and espresso, wearing pajamas all day, watching movies, going on a big walk, and making tamales. (Thanksgiving’s like that but with different food and fewer movies.) Mmm … best Christmas plan ever; we also stopped giving each other or anyone else gifts years ago, so nothing about it stresses me out or makes me feel poor. I think our families expected us to get a little more normal once we had a child, but our toddler LOVES spending holidays relaxing together without ever properly getting dressed for the day. People really do expect babies to normal you up …

  15. Lilly
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    The two cousins that I am closest to are adopted. I think it’s because they haven’t inherited the high maintenance gene that runs through my family.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. They’re just a little difficult to deal with sometimes.

  16. Lilly
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    “This post makes me really thankful for my family – nothing is off limits for conversation, and everyone is hilarious. Any visiting friends or significant others generally spend the meals wide-eyed and blushing.”
    I’m trying to imagine what that would be like. :]

  17. Lilly
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    “My siblings think they are on some sort of “moral high ground” and are better than me because their love is embraced by everyone, while with me, it’s the exact opposite.:
    I’m really sorry. No one should be treated this way. My parents have also jumped on the gay–bashing bandwagon and won’t shut up about their conservative views. My brother, who is normally very liberal, brought his conservative girlfriend to dinner and she wouldn’t stop talking about prop 8.

  18. Avery
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    These are the exact reasons I nixed going to anyone’s house this Thanksgiving. My grandparents are the only ones close enough for it to be practical to visit, but the last thing I need right now is exchanging one emotionally abusive relative for another. I’ve had enough school stress; I don’t need to add to it by hearing about that muslim Obama.
    And, of course, it doesn’t help that I’m the only vegetarian, where vegetarian really stands for “obviously queer, but instead of talking about that like functional adults we’re just going to do a lot of emotionally damaging projection.” I love the holidays–I get to go back to a name and gender I don’t identify with, feeling like an actor who just stepped into a play and no one bothered to give them a script.

  19. aideenjohnston
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    That really super sucks. My parents are a little iffy about me being queer and have said some dumbass things (like since I’m bi they’re like, so why can’t you just date men? and I’m like ‘that’s sooooo not how it works’) but at least they try. Like they met my last girlfriend and liked her and comforted me when I was in tears after we broke up. At times I think I expect them to be unrealistically PC about it and forget that a lot of people have it much worse than me. Hopefully they’ll come round eventually, I think the key is just finding middle ground and communicating honestly, but it’s soo much easier said than done, especially when you don’t have the same frames of reference!

  20. aideenjohnston
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    ‘And, of course, it doesn’t help that I’m the only vegetarian, where vegetarian really stands for “obviously queer, but instead of talking about that like functional adults we’re just going to do a lot of emotionally damaging projection.” ‘
    ROFL

  21. sarahcat
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    My stepmother is the same way. She would constantly put down my appearance and tell me I should not eat certain foods because they would make me fat. She continued to do this even though she knew I had been anorexic. I repeatedly asked her to stop, but it never did. She also made fun of me for going to grad school and told my brother he was “taking from the community” when he played high school football. She would also get very angry and do some strange things like cut up the shirts she got for my dad on Christmas night in the driveway screaming and yelling that he wasn’t appreciative enough of them. I cut off contact with her 2 1/2 years ago, and while it was difficult for my other family members to understand, it was so freeing for me. Nobody should have to stay in a situation like that.

  22. msmolly
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I’m really glad my family decided to ditch the traditional dinner this year and go out for dinner. Typically if Thanksgiving is at my house it consists of my mom’s older sister constantly making backhanded compliments or outright insulting her in front of everyone, which we all hate, because we love our mom, haha. Luckily this year we went out for dinner and I got to have a lovely conversation with my grandma about how much we love the daily show. The only negative comment from my aunt was a condescending moment when she “congratulated” me on knowing so much about the election…

  23. Lauren
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    My dad calls my Women’s and Gender Studies major “women’s hygiene.”
    Not funny.

  24. Liza
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    My ex-roommate (hyper Catholic conservative) referred to the Women’s Studies department as “the abortion building.”
    Also not funny.

  25. Liza
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry.
    I had a very close friend (slash roommate) who came out during college and when he finally told his family (months after he told me and most of our friends) his brother basically said if he ever brings a boyfriend home he won’t be allowed near his niece or nephews. His parents were uneasy but accepting.
    They are hardcore Baptists in rural Georgia. That doesn’t make it OK but it gives some perspective.

  26. Mina
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Being pressured to spend so much time and energy on traveling to spend so much more energy withstanding this bullshit sucks!
    Meanwhile, visiting my nuclear family can be stressful (although it’s been getting better lately), and my extended family doesn’t expect any of us to visit for the holidays or vice versa. No hard feelings, it’s just that none of us want to get on each other’s cases about plane tickets and visas. Yay migration?

  27. wax_ghost
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    My father isn’t that bad – he at least doesn’t put me down at all – but he treats me like an accessory and acts like the world revolves around him. The only reason he is nice to anyone is to get what he wants from them, whether it’s an ego boost (usually) or something material. Like sarahcat, I finally had enough and have now refused to talk to him for a few years. It is amazingly freeing…

  28. wax_ghost
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    I actually wish that I could spend the holidays with some of my family members, like my mom. But we had a lot of time taken away from us (it’s a long story) and she has a really good excuse for her weirdness so it wouldn’t bother me at all. But I can’t afford to travel to see her anyway.
    Luckily, I get to spend the holidays with my in-laws, who are all really cool and relaxed. For the first time in my life, I actually look forward to spending the holidays with actual family members (rather than cool family friends) because we all have so much fun together. Wish I could give that to everyone here!

  29. artdyke
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    On the one hand, i would want to tell them that if they can’t welcome the person you love into their home, then you won’t be coming either. i suspect that once you make good on that threat they will rethink their position. on the other hand, i can see how if i were your girlfriend, i would not want to sacrifice time with my own family to go spend it with yours, who are just going to be jerks. If the relationship gets serious enough though, your parents are going to have to concede one day… at a certain point, splitting up for the holidays is just ridiculous.
    my wife and i spend many a thanksgiving apart (before we were married) because her mom wouldn’t let her bring me to her conservative grandparents’ house. She said that coming out to them would just be too much for them or some bull. After an especially tongue-biting thanksgiving in which she spent the entire ride home having a screaming match with her mom over her homophobia, she decided that she wasn’t going to put up with it anymore. she graduated the following may and introduced me as her girlfriend to her grandparents, who were very friendly and gave me hugs. Later her mom was like, “You know she’s gay, right?” And they said, “Oh honey, we’ve known that for years.” They have embraced me completely and now they’re always so happy to see me! Not to helpful to you, unfortunately, but there’s an encouraging story for everyone!

  30. mountaingirl
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Wow- so I need to talk about this because being home with extended family is so suffocating for me. I grew up 2,000 miles away from extended family and so holidays were nuclear family plus friends (and all of their dogs).
    Now, I come home and it’s my mom, brother and I and then grandparents and aunt and uncle, plus their two boys. First off, there’s no pause and reflection or giving of thanks and gratitude…instead we just make WAY TOO much food and sit down like gluttons to eat.
    Speaking of making food though… the women in my family make all the food. Then, the men sit down to dinner and we practically serve them (no really, even at a buffet style dinner, my grandma was putting together my grandfather’s plate). Then we eat, the men barely talk (much less comment on the wonderful food, or offer thanks) and then the men get up and retire to the couch to watch not football, but some repeat of some sitcom (football might possibly be excusable). We women clear their plates and clean up after the entire meal.
    My favorite part of this year (sarcasm here people!) was when the women were sitting at the table talking, my uncle yells from the other room “hey- are you going to put the dessert in the oven yet? i’m hungry?”
    Let’s not even mention the fact that conversation is racist, sexist and anti-semitic (oh, my father’s jewish)… I had to ask my mom afterwards if my standards are too high in expecting that my future husband will help cook and clean, that he will engage in conversation, and that he will say thank you for the meal I cooked.
    Really…for this budding feminist, family meals are torture.
    But you have to understand that people are set in their ways and it’s almost not worth it to try to change anything…

  31. sarahcat
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    I think cutting off contact is really the best thing to do in situations like mine and wax ghost’s. I would really recommend to anyone out there to do the same if possible(I realize that it’s not really an option for some, especially if a person is financially dependent on the abusive person).

  32. wax_ghost
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Ugh. I would be tempted to try to convince all of the women to just leave the dirty plates there for the ungrateful bastards to clean up themselves!
    But maybe a more constructive idea would be to suggest a restaurant next time? That way, there is no cooking or cleaning to do and the men can’t go watch t.v. because there isn’t one.

  33. SaltyLilKipper
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    http://www.someecards.com/upload/thanksgiving/i_cant_wait_to_go_home_for.html
    You need a Someecard. I’m sorry they’re such jerks.

  34. Jeniann
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    My family is nice enough but apparently they all think I’m a lesbian. I’m not but it doesn’t really bother me. They all seem to think I’m deep in the closet and confronting their assumption and correcting it would probably convince then even more.
    I am a bit worried that if I ever bring a guy home they’ll try to “warn” him, though. Then again, seeing me with a guy might make them rethink their assumption.

  35. AndyLC
    Posted November 29, 2008 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    This will be my third year now home for any holiday. I’m not welcome there. I’m the black sheep of a family composed of black sheep. I’m trans, I’m college educated, and I’m happy. This doesn’t mesh well with my very straight, very grumpy family composed of continuation school graduates.
    So I’ll be with friends, bumming after them for holidays, or seeking my Jewish friends out on Christmas and my Pagan friends out during Chanukkah.

  36. Hara
    Posted November 30, 2008 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    hard won wisdom of a black sheep
    excerpt:
    my suggestion:
    Be yourself first. Be unapologetically yourself and know with grace and great compassion that your family is learning from you. The kinder you are when speaking from your perspective, the more likely they are to appreciate it.
    http://metahara.livejournal.com/236310.html

  37. Mandy
    Posted November 30, 2008 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    When my parents were first married, my mom had talked to my dad about how at holidays the women cooked, everyone ate, and then the men went to nap and the women did all the cleanup (and that it didn’t seem fair). That year when dinner was done, my dad recruited all of my mom’s family to do the dishes, and that’s what they did every holiday after. Sometimes speaking up really does work!

  38. AndersH
    Posted November 30, 2008 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Wow, meeneecat, I couldn’t imagine not going for the nuclear option in that situation :(
    On the other hand, I once went to Germany to spend Yule with a friend, because you know, what the hell, so it’s not like I feel incredibly obligated.
    I’m afraid waiting it out won’t work, though :(
    Hope it works out for you!

  39. Token
    Posted November 30, 2008 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I love this post and all your comments. It is a great relief to know that I am not the only one who would rather pass on mandatory family fun. I am sick of explaining that I don’t think marriage is for me and that I actually enjoy being single. And I swear to God, if someone buys my daughter some kind of Suzy Homemaker kit for Christmas, I will lose my shit.
    And I especially loved being called a lesbian after openly calling myself a feminist. Oh and apparently I was being contrary by placing an Obama/Biden sticker on my car…

  40. tessa
    Posted November 30, 2008 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    I am so sorry your siblings are making this worse for you. I was on the other side of this once. My boyfriend’s sister came out and her girlfriend was not allowed to come to holiday dinners. The sister called her brother crying because of it. So I told my boyfriend to call his parents and tell them that I would not be coming up to play the ‘perfect girlfriend’ role (which consisted mainly of existing so as to remind the extended family that only one of their children was gay) if his sister could not bring her girlfriend. He said, “Oh, so you want me to start a war in my family.” I said, “No, the war has already been declared. I want you to choose a side.”
    He didn’t choose a side. He attended Thanksgiving without me, and we were broken up by Christmas. I can’t abide a coward. Still friends with his gay sister, though. And still pretty sure I got the better end of the deal. :)

  41. Megan S.
    Posted November 30, 2008 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m lucky that I have a really great immediate family… however my extended family is ridiculous. Fortunately my mom and I decided that we’re just going to have Christmas dinner at her place with her, my stepdad, myself and my little brother… it will be such a relief. Yeah for no ridiculous loud drunk-filled smoke-filled children everywhere Christmas….

  42. Alexthinks
    Posted November 30, 2008 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    MMM…..I think there is a fine line between sharing and seemingly bragging or gloating when giving others the scoop on your current life. I come from a small town, and it is never fun to go back and say “See! look at all I am doing!” when people ask, I don’t try to minimize my accomplishments, but I do try to remain upbeat and jocular…and Don’t try to seem like I take myself thaaaat seriously.

  43. Alexthinks
    Posted November 30, 2008 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    As for topics of conversation, I say be bold! I never hold back. However, being respectful is key, as is not rocking the boat too much too fast. Maybe think of a key new topic that you think might engage your family, but is also intellectually stimulating to you too, and set a goal of going out side the box in a calculated fashion. being as my family is composed 98% of women, I’ve always felt comfortable and empowered, however, I know this is not the norm.

  44. bislnae
    Posted November 30, 2008 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    the 3 cousins i’m closest to are also adopted. i understand completely. :P

  45. Gopher
    Posted November 30, 2008 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Ditto. My dads an ass. I havent talked to him for 5 years.I think he has some sort of mental illness, but I dont know what it could be. Every one of my friends since I was 14 said he freaks them out and has ‘googly’ eyes. He fakes alot. His former workers dont like him and alot of people negatively talk about him behind his back. Hes also a corporate kiss-ass.

  46. wax_ghost
    Posted November 30, 2008 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Heh, your dad sounds like a higher-class version of my dad! Does he have a gambling addiction and a mile-wide misogynist streak too?

  47. Lilith Luffles
    Posted November 30, 2008 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    I am not really close with my family, so I don’t do much talking. They usually ask me how school is going (Junior in college, it’s stressful >.

  48. SarahMC
    Posted November 30, 2008 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m so sorry some of you are treated so terribly by those who are supposed to love you unconditionally.
    I just got home from my parents’ house, where I had a relaxing & enjoyable four day break. I get along with everyone in my family but they are all pretty conservative and say/do things that really piss me off sometimes.
    My dad is thinking of buying a gun now that “Obama and the liberals are going to outlaw gun ownership.” My parents don’t even lock the doors to the house, btw, so the “for protection” reasoning he gave me doesn’t quite fly.
    Thanksgiving dinner is typically held at my parents’ house, with my mom’s parents, me and my boyfriend in attendance. Sometimes my uncle (mom’s brother) and his family come too. My uncle and I are the only ones who voted for Obama, and whilst he and I were privately high-fiving each other he revealed that he’s an atheist. I told him he wasn’t alone, and it made me feel less alone too.
    He told my grandma (his mom) he couldn’t believe she voted for McCain, and she shrugged. When he pressed her she couldn’t give a reason, even though “we desperately need change and I’d have voted Democrat had Biden been the candidate.” It’s obvious she wouldn’t vote for Obama because he’s black. “A tiger doesn’t change it’s stripes,” my uncle explained.
    My grandparents use a lot of outdated language that makes me really uncomfortable (“negro”); sometimes I am so taken aback I can’t even formulate a response. Grandma says the city’s public schools are going downhill because of “all the Indians.” I don’t even know what that means; when I was in school, the Indian kids were very disciplined students.
    Grandma also waits on grandpa hand and foot. She brings him his food and drinks and cleans up after him once he’s done. It’s like watching a king and his servant.
    Most of this is nothing compared to the downright hostile treatment some of you face, but I thought I’d share anyway. This year I am thankful for a supportive feminist community like this. :)

  49. pixiepie
    Posted December 1, 2008 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    It’s thanksgiving. Can we at least give thanks for what we have? I know it can be frustrating to go home, but I think we all have people in our lives who we can truly be thankful to be with. Let’s be joyous. There are so many things in my life to be thankful for and I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that most of the above posters do, too.

  50. SarahMC
    Posted December 1, 2008 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Also, to those whose families don’t welcome your partners to their homes for the holidays: I’d suggest skipping the visits yourselves. Maybe once your families experience the holiday(s) without you, they will soften and change their minds. (Though if your families only begrudgingly relent, you might not want to bring your loved ones into that harsh environment.)

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