Although I don’t celebrate American Thanksgiving, because I’m Canadian, I know all too much about what it’s like to be forced to go to family holidays, as there are numerous Jewish holidays throughout the year. I’m not saying that everyone feels forced to go. I’m sure a lot of people love seeing their families and enjoy spending time with them. I’m sometimes this person. While I love each of my family members individually, sometimes it’s hard when we’re all together. There’s a certain tenseness, shall we say, that surrounds these big dinners and gatherings that puts me on edge, even when I’m not hosting the gathering, which is never.
But, yes, I have gotten out of these holiday gatherings. Why? Well, sometimes I…just…don’t…want…to…go. As an adult, I feel that I should have a choice in these matters. I mean, when it comes to friends, and I don’t want to go out and party with them, I just don’t go. But family pressure is a whole other issue. There is guilt involved. It’s Thanksgiving! It’s Yom Kippur! It’s Christmas! It’s Hanukkah! YOU NEED TO BE THERE OR THE WORLD WILL END!
One of my cousins, who we have to get together with during these holiday gatherings, just doesn’t like me. I can handle people not liking me, but they need a good reason to not like me, and his reason sucks. This one family member doesn’t like me because I got pregnant and was not married (he’s very conservative). So we can go an entire evening together without him saying a word to me, and that just puts me in a mood and I’m like, “What the fuck am I doing here in this guy’s house when he hates me?”
He also doesn’t like my sister-in-law because she’s not Jewish (the horror!) The only reason my sister-in-law and I both sometimes go to their house for family gatherings is because we make it fun and bet on the evening. We make a bet to see who he will talk to more, and quite frankly, over the years, neither of us has won, because he doesn’t talk to either of us.
Sometimes, I just don’t want to hang out with my family as a whole. So I will call them and say, “I’m not coming.” And then will give my excuse which is I’m feeling kind of depressed, which is usually the truth, but apparently, my family, and parents especially, don’t seem to think that’s a good enough reason. So there’s guilt.
My sister-in-law seems to have it right. She’s a lot like me. Sometimes we love hanging out with the family and sometimes we don’t. When she doesn’t want to be at a family gathering, she says either she’s not feeling well (could be true but not! LIAR!) Or she books a trip with my brother so they are out of town.
Yes, I know it’s family and, trust me, I’m a firm believer that family comes first. It’s just these types of “family holidays” that piss me off because of the obligation factor. I do feel worse for my American friends who have to travel across the country to visit their families for any holidays and then end up sleeping on couches or sharing a room or bunk bed with their 3-year-old nephews. At least my family is in town and I can see them whenever I want.
I’m not sure exactly how to make these holidays seem like less of an obligation and more of maybe an exciting adventure or vacation. Perhaps we should all suggest we meet our families in Maui for all the holidays. Then, I’d definitely be there and make no excuses not to go. And, by the way, I hate turkey.