26 November 2009
How My Family Treats Me on Thanksgiving
How my family treats me on Thanksgiving—I am not quite sure where to begin. Usually, the feast is held at my nieces’ house with everyone in attendance, some of whom (as in my mother and my sister, the mother of my niece) have to travel about four hours to attend. I myself just live two-and-a-half hours away.
However, several years ago I found out that I was not welcome at my niece’s house. I just happened to call my nephew (who lived in the same city as my niece) to wish him a happy Thanksgiving where he, in turn, ask me what I was planning to do. I replied that I had no plans and he asked me to come with him to my niece’s house where everyone in the family would be attending (he seemed surprised that I knew nothing about it—while I knew my mother and sister would be attending, no invitation ever came from my niece). I told my nephew that I did not receive an invitation, but he just replied that that was nonsense and everyone was going to be there and wasn’t I part of the family? He insisted to the point that I agreed to meet him at his house and go with him.
When I arrived, my niece answered the door and when she saw that I was with her brother, she was clearly not pleased, but couldn’t say anything in front of all of the others. During the course of the appetizer conversation, it became evident to me that I was certainly not welcome by anyone, and my mother looked rather displeased as she must have known that I was not specifically invited. Of course, no one came out and said anything, but clearly, I was uncomfortable at my reception and the duration of the day.
Later on, the following day I queried my mother (the patron saint of protocol) and sister and asked them what the problem was. I was totally clueless. My mother said I shouldn’t have gone since I did not receive an invitation (it sounded as if she knew more, but didn’t say anything). Then I asked my sister and she replied in kind. I asked whatever did I do anything to my niece to warrant such treatment, and the reply I received was that my sister didn’t really know, but that it was my niece’s prerogative and that I should respect it. I was hurt beyond compare, not just at my niece’s reaction, but also by the fact that both my mother and sister appeared to support my niece’s position. On one Thanksgiving, it was actually held at my mother’s house instead (and of course, my niece and her family would be there). Stung by everyone’s long-standing support of my niece and her decision to completely cut me out, I told my mother I would not be attending if she was going to be there and my mother, fearing a scene, thought that would be advisable.
Thanksgiving has always been an important holiday to me as it represented the one time that everyone would be there. Even when my son was a little boy and travelling would make it hard to travel to my mother’s house, I always made a big deal about Thanksgiving, as I wanted to make memories for my son. We always made an ordeal about it from the cooking of the meal to our special outing afterwards to his favourite park he liked to play. I always took many pictures and was pleased that I was started my own traditions with him. As he grew up, we began to travel to my Mom’s house (five hours away) to be with the rest of the family (long before my niece had her own family).
Well, this year the holiday celebration is to be at my nephew’s house instead. I held out hope that maybe I would finally be invited, but no call ever came. I just cried, as it only firmly cemented the fact that I really don’t have a family outside of my son, who now lives on the west coast and celebrates it with his birth father and his grandmother. I cannot afford to fly out to be with them, although I know I would be welcomed.
I did receive a message from a couple at church to join their family at Thanksgiving, but having not attended church for quite sometime, coupled by the fact that her extended family (whom I really don’t know) would be there would make me very uncomfortable. I am sure, out of respect to me, I would not be peppered by questions as to my continued absence from church, but being around a bunch of people, some of whom I do not know is too much for me to handle right now. Following in my mother’s footsteps on proper protocol, I called back, thankfully to have her daughter answer and I just told her to give her mom a message where I thanked her very much for the thoughtful invitation, but I would be unable to attend.
So here I sit, all alone on one of the most important days of the year only to be reminded that I am not wanted by my family.©2009