Ah, The Joy Of Family

“There is no other organization that can so completely satisfy our need for belonging and happiness like the family. Why do we yearn for home and loved ones? I believe this yearning is a universal, God-given instinct that all people in all cultures are blessed with. I also believe that a loving Heavenly Father gives it to us because within the family we experience most of life’s greatest joys. The sights, sounds, and associations of family and home are among our most treasured memories and provide our fondest anticipations.”

– Marvin K. Jensen

I haved LOVED that quote ever since I ran across it. It rings so very true to me as far as my parents and siblings are concerned. Heck, it even rings true for my feeling about Eric’s family. However, it DOESN’T ring true with my extended family.

I will interject here that the feelings I am about to share DO NOT include my father’s side of the family or ANY of Eric’s relatives. Nor are these feelings I have about EVERY realtive on my mother’s side, but it is about a large number of them.

I used to enjoy getting together with my maternal relatives. Any holiday was an excuse for a party. Christmas Eve was always the biggest an I’d always looked forward to it. But lately, I no longer look forward to it like I did. The only reason I go to the Christmas Eve party now is because it means a lot to my grandma. The Christmas Eve party now makes me extremely anxious. It isn’t relaxing and it isn’t fun. In fact last year, my dear SIL thought I was upset with her because I didn’t talk to her that night. The truth of the matter was that I was pregnant and had been on my feet all day making cookies and meeting up with these maternal relatives takes a mental toll on me.

I’ve felt this way a long time, but what is making me make this post/entry is something that happened last night. We threw a baby shower for my above mentioned SIL. I was in charge on invites and so when my mom gave me the list I was mentally saying, “Oh, this person won’t show up.’ Or, “This person probably won’t even open this seeing as how it’s coming from me.” And yes, that is seriously how shallow some of these relatives are.

Guess what? Last night – all those people who we thought wouldn’t come – DIDN’T. Big surpise, eh? It really isn’t. It just gets annoying because we know that had it been to support another relatives family, these no-shows would’ve been there in a heartbeat. Really, how hard is it to show up for 5 or 10 minutes to say, “Congrats.”

My Dad’s sister had made plans with a friend before she got the shower invite, but she stopped in (with her friend) for 20 minutes or so to at least give her congrats. Now, I’m sure the friend wasn’t exactly ‘thrilled’, but my aunt put forth an effort.

So really, we weren’t surprised by the lack of support, just annoyed. I was annoyed that I wasted good stamps on people who are so shallow they can’t move outside themselves for a few minutes of their lives. I am annoyed we even extended invitations out to those people. I’m glad they didn’t show up because my anxiety didn’t come to surface.

These same relatives were so tacky at my brother’s wedding that they showed up to the ‘free lunch’ but never came to the reception. My brother was married in the summer, so it wasn’t like people had weather issues to face. It was just much of their precious time to spend with ‘our family.’ Bah!

So, what’s wrong with these people and where did it go wrong? That’s what we were trying to figure out. In my mind things started changing after my grandpa died. But, collectively (my mom, sisters and I) we think it really changed when my two little brothers ‘came out of the closet.’ Which is just stupid!

Are you really so much better because you are living such ‘righteous lives’. HA! One of these relatives doesn’t even go to church anymore and she is better than us because her siblings are all ‘righteous’ people? One relative pretty much told our uncle that he wasn’t allowed to have anything to do with his kids because he isn’t living a righteous life. (Something to that effect anyway.) That’s real Christlike isn’t it?

The other issue is money. My aunts and uncles (with the exception of aforementioned uncle) are well off. However, I’ve never gotten a brush off from any of my aunts and uncles. It’s my cousins who pretty much all ‘fell into money’ or jobs.

Does being well off really make you better than others? Is it really so beneath you to even say, ‘hi.’? Eric has lots of well off relatives and NONE of them have ever acted the way my relatives do. NONE of them! So what really makes that change? I know that my cousins weren’t raised to treat people like they are treating them. It’s something that’s come with time.

It’s difficult to be around them because I am afraid that if my kids start to play with their kids, my cousins will snatch up their kids and pretty much tell them, “You can’t play with that child.” Now that may be a little extreme, but it’s a real fear I have. I never know if it’s okay for my kids to be playing with their kids and it makes me jumpy and nervous.

When we go to these big family parties, I end up spending time with my parents, siblings, Grandma and my sweet uncle whose life has been a struggle. My little sister is able to move among some of these people a little more effortlessly and I haven’t figured that part out. So why do I even bother going to these parties? It’s really for my Grandma and that’s it. When she dies I will probably NEVER see any of these relatives again. That should make me sad, but it doesn’t.

I’m trying to understand why I get so anxious around these people. These people who really tick me off and who (knowing the type of people they are) I really wouldn’t want to be friends with, why do I try so hard to be accepted? I think it’s more that I am trying to do things so that they won’t judge me anymore. Or maybe look at me in a different light. It’s so much to ‘live up to’ and I just don’t have the strength to do it anymore. And they aren’t going to notice, they aren’t even going to care. I’m too much of a peon in their books to even take note of.

I guess I shall bide my time with my father and husbands wonderful families and write most of my mothers family off. Harsh? Oh well…like I said before NONE OF THEM will care.

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