It's Complicated


Life is really complicated. That of course is an understatement of great magnitude. It is intricate and lovely and horrid and sometimes there really are no words for what life is.

Do you cringe when it comes to holidays? Not the holidays themselves. But the visits to see family and sit down at a lavish meal, and have awkward conversations with people you really don't even like. Do you spend hours surreptitiously glancing down at your wrist watch to see if you've been there long enough to be able to say it's time to leave without being rude.

And you know you will hug them goodbye and say: "Let's not wait so long to get together!" And then you will get in your car and say to your husband or significant other: "Did you see what she was wearing? Oh my God! What was she thinking?"

Because, you see, family is complicated as well. 



We are born into families not of our choosing. So the percentages are kind of against you right there. What's the chance that you will love every single one of your relatives? 

Nil to none.



I stopped going to family holidays a long time ago. I am uncomfortable and anxious the whole time, so how is that a holiday? How is that cause for celebration?

And for people like me that were born with less filters than perhaps 80% of the population, you are afraid that, at the very least, you are going to manage to offend someone while being witty. (And you're witty, because that's how you cope with being anxious.) And at the very most, you might end up with mashed potatoes in your face. 



Family get-togethers are just not for me. I think at holidays we should get to do whatever we want. Celebrate in our very own way. Why do there have to be rules anyway?

Usually I am outside taking photos and watching birds interact. Or inside with my dogs being appreciative that they love me no matter what. I don't know why someone said dog is man's best friend. Men don't tend to have or need best friends as much as women. 

We women need our pupsters. Or kitty cats.



I use to get physically sick before holiday dinners. I'd turn to my then husband at the very last minute and say: "I'm sorry. I just can't do it. (This was husband #2 who was the kindest one of all, and I should have realized that before I left him and ended up with husband and scoundrel #3.)

He'd have this stricken look on his face. "Not again," he'd say wearily. "You did this last time. What do I say to Mom and Dad."

"Tell them I just can't. I don't know. Say what you think is most acceptable." And he'd sigh and go get in the car and head to the holiday dinner he probably didn't want to go to either. But he wasn't paralyzed over it like I was. So he was the token attendee.



I can't begin to count how many holiday dinners I have not attended, and then sat there and felt bad because I was disappointing someone. And I felt selfish for doing so. But not bad enough to call him and say come back and get me. 

Life and holidays are complicated. Relatives probably kill one another more than strangers. Who do the police look to after a murder? Well, the next of kin of course. Because who could get mad enough to resort to violence more than someone who had this love/hate relationship with them?

What do you do about complicated family and holiday get-togethers? Do you suck it up and grit your teeth and soldier on? Or do you have a long running record of being the no-show?





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115 comments

  1. I'm very happy to say that my family, every last one of us who get together for holidays, get along. There might be one who disagrees with the other but it just means there is more than one opinion; no one becomes angry. There are usually 20-30 of us who gather at my cousin's home. Some dress like they're meeting the queen and some like they're going to stay home and clean house and no one cares the least little bit. An eclectic group of people with a common love and history with one another. Most of the time, we only see each other once or twice a year but it's great when we get together.

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    1. Well, LesleyAnn count your blessings but beware it may change at any time. I thought things were wonderful with family until my parents died, then the family apart and the other side must have held back because I was daughter of their pastor. Everything changed and here I am.

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  2. LeslieAnn took the words right out of my mouth; we meet only a few times a year, everyone seems to get along, dress differently, hug one another and go home...it's very pleasant. It's a holiday, celebration, for Pete's sake...... get along.

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    1. Yes, but you wouldn't believe how some families really are! They make movies about them!

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  3. I'm blessed to have a close family on both sides and we see each other fairly often throughout the year, although not generally in one place. There are holiday gatherings, however, that I would occasionally enjoy skipping. Sometimes you're just not in the mood for such events. But it means so much to my parents for us all to be together at least once a year, and that is really not asking too much of me.

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    1. You're a great daughter, and I'm sure it does mean the world to your parents. Good karma.

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  4. Oh my.... I use to tell my ex I just don't feel like going but please bring me some food. Why go and be subjected to stares...look how much weight she has gained..nope I will not go!! My only sister stopped talking to me for whatever reason. So it was just Dad and I. After my divorce no more family get togethers. I was shocked when she attended my Dad's funeral...I mean lliving only a mile away and all. FAMILY..... So now there are none...oh wait... the worst of all. My grandson turned one in june. The biggest get together of non family was upon me. List of the invited...my ex and wife well it was at their home....then the ex inlaws my ex mom and dad every ex sister and brother coming as far as West Virginia and Arizona.....gosh my heart skipping beats just reliving this. Everyone from my past whom I had not seen in 30 years. But this was my grandsons first birthday. I had to go. I wanted to see him. Oh then my rude daughter in law would be there. Ok I went..said hellos got to a corner and sat till I could leave. The food was good..the food always good at family events...not the reason Im fat now..that is years of steriod use. Im sure they all had their laughs...then my ex mother in law.....oh not going there. I dont like family get togethers. I do like the food. Lol. But no more for me because it is just me now. Dad's gone. Sister doesn't acknowledge I'm alive. Children have their own families. So be it. No more confrontational fears....

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    1. Then you know how I feel. In this age of people who've been married multiple times and have children by each spouse, means a WHOLE lot of family. And that means a bunch more people than there was years ago when people didn't tend to get divorced and start all over again. A nightmare in the making.

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    2. Amen! A complete nightmare. Didnt even get into the last ex and family......ugh. We all thought happily ever after.....

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    3. But it's sad, isn't it and it feels empty. I feel isolated and alone, yet I know that to take care of myself I can't do it anymore. I did it all those years even though my children were isolated and made to feel less than the rest and I can't do it anymore. Now they have hurt my children and talk about my grandbabies and I can't do it now. As long as they were hurting me it was okay but when they started hurting my children openly on facebook even printing nasty comics and ecards about them and my "mental illness," enough was enough. So for those of you have it great, count your blessings and don't judge those who can't.

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    4. I so feel your pain. It's my own mother that is the issue for me.

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  5. I hate the holidays because they are so depressing! I haven't been to a family holiday for over 8 years. I always cry, to have such a large (10 kids) and have, nor want a connection is a heavy load to carry. Last month I made the mistake of deciding to attend a nephews wedding, and it was horrible. My father (now decreased) was an alcoholic and so many of my family are too, so it starts good but always ends bad cause everyone drinks. So I stay home with hubs, both of us sad, he's an only child and his parents are gone. I always feel so lonely and empty, and I look so forward to the next week where I can hope for a better year, and then I feel happy again.

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    1. For some reason holidays do not depress me. I treat them like any other day. I don't change my daily routine at all. But if I felt I actually had to attend one of these, instant anxiety. So it's just another day to me.

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    2. Sheesh, Cathy :(
      I feel like this is Java Talk a day later !:)

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    3. I'm truly sorry Cathy. I really understand. My parents are what held us together. My sister in law was always so mean to her and I saw my mama cry over the years because she withheld her children's love from my parents. Now she wants to try to hurt me and my family. It ain't gonna happen. I hate it because I love my brother and I miss him so much that my heart hurts. It literally feel like it's torn apart, but he goes along with anything she says and does. Her daughter, my niece always was close to me. Her mother made up lies about my mother and now my niece doesn't even acknowledge me. That breaks my heart.

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    4. I've been talking to hubs about taking a trip for Christmas (the only holiday that bothers me). A large part of it is that my daughter, who died, birthday was in December. So it's just such a difficult time. I think maybe changing it up with a trip might be what we need.

      I can relate to what you say, my brothers married, hate to say it, trailor trash, and they follow their every word. Don't think they can think without asking their wifes. It also seems like man drift to their wife's family.

      Life can be complicated, can't it?

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  6. For 12 years my family (parents and brother) had their own holidays without me because if I went and spent any time with them, I would suffer the consequences. Last season was awesome. I finally felt at ease being with my parents and brother at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was truly lovely. My parents don't have any grandchildren. My brother suffers from M.S. So they just have two adult children who come and eat and laugh and that is just fine with all four of us.

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    1. I hear you, Laura. But now it's all good.

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    2. At least we were together the 2 years before my parents died. They died in peace knowing that we were finally a family. A year later, everything goes crazy.

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  7. Brenda, I feel badly for you. But I know some of your story. So I can understand. Heck we all have some family that will go with the flow and make everyone feel wonderful , while others think the world revolves around them. We just learn to get along, as best as we can. My post today is about family too. xoxo,Susie

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    1. Well, holidays truly don't bother me. I don't get depressed or feel sad. I just think tomorrow is another day and move on.

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  8. I've lost my husband, mother and father.. I'm am the only child my parents had. I have been blessed with two children who are grown now.. When my husband was living we'd invite friends for Thanksgiving.. My parents would come to our home for both holidays and most every weekend also.. I miss those times soooo much.
    Now, it's just my son, daughter and myself and we all live together. We eat out for Thanksgiving and I fix Christmas dinner.. Holidays are hard for us, especially my daughter.. We're blessed to still have each other though..
    I'm glad that you don't feel depressed during the holidays, Brenda.. I think about you being alone. You're not alone though, you have Charlie Ross and Abigail Rose.. They are a good kind of family who you don't have to pretend with.
    Hugs, Charlotte

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    1. Charlotte, please don't worry about me being alone. I'd rather be alone. I'd rather have a TV dinner and be alone than have to go to some big wingding.

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    2. I don't like big "wingdings" either Brenda.. You do have a wonderful little nest, in which, you can celebrate anything you want to celebrate or not, as you see fit..

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    3. I have my children and grandchildren of whom I am so thankful and so blessed. They love each other so much and they've seen what can happen to families and they (my son and daughter and spouses work hard to keep their relationships happy) I am blessed beyond measure and hope to one live closer. We've decided that this year we will be in Nasvhille where they are since my daughter is pregnant and it's so hard to travel with my newest granddaughter and 3 year old grandson.

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  9. Well our get-togethers are just immediate family now but when the boys were growing up and I was still married the complication was that his family was HUGE!! At their Christmas Eve celebration with ALL in attendance, they'd rent a hall. So my big worry there was not knowing who was who. At the smaller get togethers with just a few of his mom's brothers and sisters and their kids it was easier.
    BUT my MIL and two of her sisters would just gossip away about everyone the next day or so / now it seems funny to me but sometimes back then I would want to scream ! :) An old and very traditional Italian family...I think that they honored and revered their brothers ( some quite successful and rich at that point ) since it was usually the women and wives and even each other that they'd gossip about the most. I'd say familial jealousy would be the reason? Not sure. There WERE some good times, though, that I enjoyed. At Easter the rich brothers would pay for a good bit of the family to all attend an old fashioned family style restaurant after Sunday Church. In the summer there were get-togethers at one place that had a log cabin, lake, and outdoor ovens and then the MIL and sisters would make homemade pizzas to cook in the oven. We'd all help with the toppings but they made the dough. OH my, Brenda...nothing like it! Even if you'd felt shy, awkward, bored or what-have-you, even you would have shown up for at least a half an hour for that pizza :) Then we could have ignored everyone else and took a stroll around the lake...so maybe you'd end up there for an hour :)

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    1. I might have done that! I wouldn't know your relatives!

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    2. Gee Deb the family gatherings sound like they could be fun. I'd love to be with the ladies in the kitchen cooking even if they wouldn't let me make the dough! Now you have your immediate family to celebrate with.

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  10. Agree Brenda ...everyone should do what makes them happy!! Whether you want to party-hop, or stay home. Also a lot of times folks will put too much pressure on themselves during the holidays and by the time Christmas day arrives- they are all worn out. We don't make-the-rounds anymore --- now that we are older, we just do immediate family and open door policy for all positive ppl - LOL And also -- no pressure -- some folks don't like crowds or like to be home or it's cold ~ for those who show up .... dress code is whatever you are happy in -- show up in Pajammies or a prom dress ....we don't care ! We do our tree, and hang stockings (including for the fur-babies) but keep it pretty simple and try to enjoy the season. I know one year long ago -- my Grandma wanted to stay at her assisted living place b/c the staff was doing a party. She had great-grandkids and when all the little ones were together - she was afraid she would trip or fall. She had so much fun that day that it proves - do what makes you happy and let your family do what makes them happy. Isnt there a Christmas song about Peace on Earth ???? LOL Let peace be in everyone's heart :)

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    1. Good for your Grandma. She knew what she wanted. No judgment for what someone wants and deserved at her age.

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    2. Another "gift" we give each other .... no gifts !! No shopping, no going crazy in the malls -- each family does for their own little kids, but that's it. Once Grandma had a stroke at 78 - she just was not able to even shop (and she lived 15 more years) We all realized w/o pressure people put on Christmas - we could spin some Christmas music (wow- I'm old .... vinyl records LOL) and just chill out. I'm going to be just like Granny (and Ms Brenda) - I'm not ever gonna let others ideas run my holidays (or life) and I don't put pressure on my own family. I have very down-to-earth brothers. And we live in different cities - why would we put pressure of airports and traffic on each other at Christmas -when we can get together when there are less weather, holiday delays and not run the risk of someone being stuck in an airport on Christmas (things that have happened in our younger days when we put pressure on trying to have a perfect holiday - no such thing - PERFECT is each and every person happy and content :)

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  11. Our family has taken the pressure off Christmas by going on a vacation together - skiing on Christmas day - and scaling back the commercial part of the holiday. Thanksgiving we keep small with just our immediate family and we just make it a day of cooking and games together - not the full blown, stuffed to the gills meal. Both of our children have new people in their lives so we don't know what the holidays will bring for them or us this year, but we have assured both the kids that they are to do what they want to do. In fact, I know my daughter will not be with us for Christmas, the first time ever, because she is going to Kauai with her boyfriend's family. We are happy for her.

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    1. Lately, I've been saying to hubs let's take a trip over Christmas, it would be a new experience and it could change the "mood" of how we feel about Christmas. Will you be OK with you daughter not being with you this year?

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    2. Your family has taken the pressure off of your children, and made it a more casual holiday. Good for you!

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  13. I happen to love holidays, with the exception of the two with fireworks, New Years and Fourth of July. I still have my elderly mom with me and I want her to have nice holidays.
    They are certainly on a more quiet scale than many would have, but we always have special foods and make sure we have some movies to watch. Just a quietly festive type day. I grew up with Christmas, Thanksgiving and birthdays as being important holidays in our house and they still are today. We even have birthdays for our pet babies and they all get little things for Christmas. It's great fun for us. But, since we are friends, I understand why you don't like holidays, Brenda. I always want you to spend them in what ever way you are most comfortable.

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    1. I have always liked your style of holidays, Gina. You and your mother and your fur babies. I think it is a great idea, the way you two celebrate.

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    2. I like that style too, Gina. My Mom doesn't live with us, but we have a room for her at our house (it is not a guest room...it is HER room that guests can use LOL) During the week of Thanksgiving to Christmas, Hallmark plays sweet Christmas movies and I go to my Mom's and we watch them. We don't like the fireworks of New Years b/c they scare our terrior! I've really loved this post and comments (THANK YOU BRENDA) b/c it makes me feel even less guilty that we skip some of the company/work parties too !! And we get tired WAY before some of the younger folks HaHa.

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  14. Oh honey, You just don't know how close this is to where I am living. The thing is now I am being stalked on my blog and can't write my heart like I once did. (maybe I told you that) I deleted or changed settings on my blog on depression. I blocked family on facebook. I have been cut off, me and my children for something ridiculous! I'm with you. For me, it's not complicated. It's downright ridiculous and I told my husband that I would not do it this year. Just can't. Tell it like it is honey! Shout it out! Don't hold back!

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    1. I'm so sorry that some cruel person has chosen to stalk you and ruin how you feel about your blog. I don't do Facebook, so that I can't relate to. But I hope this doesn't keep you from finding happiness again online.

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    2. I'm so sorry too Ms White Lace and Promises .. that is aweful. Can you block the stalker with some privacy settings (like on FB)? Not sure your situation, but sometimes someone who would cut you off for something is not worth your time of day !! I find blog writers to be so sweet (at least the ones I follow), so talented, so creative, and such positive energy in our world :) YOU ARE RIGHT - Do holidays (and life overall) how you want to do it ! Life is too short to live by other people's ideas <3

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  15. Holiday expectations can be just horrible. So much pressure to have 'fun' and 'the best time ever'. Family is complicated. I am close to many in my family but know when to walk away also. My oldest does not like 'holidays' but attends small gatherings sometimes. I never push her. I totally get your avoidance of family and get together's.

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    1. Linda, I'm sure your oldest child is very grateful that you take this stance.

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    2. This post has been so AMAZING !! Linda's comment made me think of one of my cousin's teenager - extreme shyness. A wonderful young man - but also uncomfortable in crowds. My cousin does not want him on anxiety meds (the docs suggest) so I just realized I'm going to tell her any time he would rather pass on a get-together, be sure he knows that is absolutely ok. He may even stay home for college vs. going to a big school, and he has great grades. THANK YOU Brenda for bringing topics that not only make us think, feel comfortable that others agree, AND eye-opening even for our younger family members.

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  16. well Miss Brenda-- this christmas , which is my birthday btw, we are gonna spend part of it together.. no worries about a gift) I got too much stuff already... lol.. just the pleasure of your company for about an hour will be all the gift I need. I wont even make ya sing Happy Birthday to me.. no pressure, wear your jammies if ya wanna cause thats what I'll have on . now this will be a good holiday and I'm starting to look forward to it already....

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    1. Sonny, if I sang Happy Birthday to you, you would probably cringe! I can't sing. Or rather, I can, but no one would want to hear it. I look forward to spending it with you!

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  17. I have always hosted major holidays. After my daughters married, they had in-laws, so holidays had to be split. However, I have always hosted Christmas Eve and this will probably be the first year to turn it over to one of my girls.
    I will probably go spend the night at her home in McPherson Ks. and find fun in watching her young children open their gifts. Christmas Day she always hosts a dinner for her husbands family, and her sisters and family.

    I am more nervous about trying to find conversation with my daughters MIL. She is a golf nut and talks non stop about their travels to everywhere. I hate golf and love to quilt, sew, scrapbook, etc. So, I will just listen, as usual, and sip on my wine. Maybe she will fall asleep!!

    I totally understand Brenda. Family gatherings are very difficult because we set our expectations way to high. It is what it is, and will not change, probably. I can for see a day when I decline, and just go to the movies with a friend.
    hugs...

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    1. Sharon, give yourself that gift of movie with a friend. Life is too short to feel like a deer in the headlights at a holiday dinner!

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  18. We had wonderful family dinners and holidays with extended family when I was growing up, but over the years, especially these past few years, there has been some major family strife and fights and so certain family members aren't talking to others. Now everyone just seems to go their own way on holidays. On top of it, my oldest son passed away 5 years ago, so holidays are even more depressing. Nowadays, most holidays are just spent with my mom and a cousin, though last Christmas my sister and her family actually came to my house, which was a shock. We also get together with Brian's family on holidays but it's very casual. We just meet at a restaurant. No dressing up, no worrying about cleaning your house for dinner, no clean-up.

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    1. I know holidays will always be more difficult for you due to the loss of your son, Melanie.

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  19. We always had so much fun on holidays including birthdays, etc. Then one day it all fell apart when our only daughter decided we had not been good parents so she was not going to speak to us anymore. None of us, including her two brothers, can to this day understand what happened. One day it was fine, we were the best parents in the world and the next week we were unfit parents who paid too much attention to her brothers and not her. To make matters worse she has alienated our two oldest granddaughters and our only great grandchild, too. She has been married to an abuser for over 30 years and he finally came between us, but you know I don't blame him. No one on this earth could have come between my parents and me. She didn't even have the courtesy to talk to us but sent nasty emails. We all tried to talk to her, but to no avail. At the same time our oldest son was divorcing his alcoholic wife, but he was granted custody of the children PTL, so now our family of 16 is down to 9. Holidays are certainly not the same, but with four remaining grandchildren we make every effort to make it fun. Thankfully, I have one DIL who loves the family. Tears our heart out, but what can you do when one sibling is so jealous of the other two she is willing to split her family.

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  20. Every family has some sort of disfunction...and the holidays you see on TV just are not real...my family is no different and sometimes the holidays aren't the best...I always go and hope for the best, but sometimes there is just so much tension. For several years I wanted to go away for the holidays, but the kids wanted to stay here, so that's what we did - now our kids are 20 and 24 and the oldest has a "beau" so we share her for the holidays with his family...it's time for new traditions - Brenda if your family is not one that you want to spend time with, then I say to heck with them...create a new family of friends and start a new tradition and DO WHAT'S BEST FOR YOU!!

    Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG

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    1. Sounds good to me! Just because you're related doesn't mean you like one another. Or get along.

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  21. I could write a book, but I think I'll just stay home instead. When you stop and think about it, holidays are really just ... a day.

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    1. That's what I say, Mary! It's just ANOTHER DAY!

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  22. I missed holidays with family since I moved from the east coast but when I was working I just wanted some rest on the holiday and have adapted. My job was stressful so I have gotten accustomed to just being home watching movies and wait for the next day. I have to say the last six weeks have been the worse situation I have ever been involved in and it will get worse. My son received divorce papers and he didn't do anything wrong but it does take 2 for a marriage. Oh well, I hope in a year from now things will calm down.

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    1. Oh Gisela, I'm so sorry. Could she have found someone else maybe? Never know.

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    2. On Christmas day eve, I like to have Chinese like in the movie
      "The Christmas Story".

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    3. Gisela, a Christmas nap seems like another BEST Christmas gift we could give each other !! (not kidding - we take naps on Sunday afternoons and love it)

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  23. Great topic! There's just the three of us as far as family here, and daughter and I got to a friend's house for dessert after having our dinner at home. But the last few years the brother of my friend has become the "creepy guy" and loves to ck out my daughter's chest, making her very uncomfortable! He is so friggin obvious, it's kinda funny. Last Thanksgiving she purposely wore a turtle neck, and a scarf around that, and a jacket. I was talking to his wife and he came up to my daughter, who was standing across from us in the conversation and said to her: Wouldn't you be more comfortable if you took your coat off? So I think we'll be passing on dessert with them this year! Since my husband has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, it's going to be a tough holiday season for daughter and I. You have the right idea, Brenda, it's just another day. I used to feel for years you had to have the turkey dinner, or ham, then after having back surgery and fixing Thanksgiving dinner in lots of pain, I decided I was doing BBQ take out. We've done it for 6 years now and we all enjoy it so much!

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    1. I have done the BBQ takeout for holidays when it was just me. And it was usually just me because the ex always worked on holidays. Or at least I thought he was working. No telling where he was. But he didn't like leftovers and I did, so I'd go to this one BBQ place called "The Purple Pig" and get a family dinner and eat on it all week. Yeah, don't think the guy could be more obvious than that. Or sexist.

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  24. I love every single member of my family. There are some that do things that I don't necessarily agree with but I do love them. I wish I didn't live so far from my family. I long for the days when we all gathered, at my grandmother's home, for holidays, birthdays, or just to see one another.

    Grace & Peace.

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    1. Yours must be a mild-mannered bunch. You're a lucky woman then.

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  25. I just go and get through the bad parts and concentrate on the good parts. However, if I felt like you, I'd go and get drunk. Then everyone would be relieved when you didn't show up the next time and so would you. Everyone would be happy. The best thing to do is just not care what other people think.. "It's none of your business what they think of you."

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    1. Well, I can't drink alcohol due to acid reflux and the fact that I take meds that say you can't drink. And I never liked the taste anyway. Perhaps I can get drunk on chocolate while I eat it with a spoon from a pan...

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  26. Oh goodness how I wish I could not go! Unfortunately my daughter & I live with my parents and holidays always take place here. Lots of screaming, ranting and raving getting ready for said holiday. Makes me think about taking up residence in a refrigerator box if truth be told! My sister & I do usually have a glass or two of wine to just blur the edges a bit. This December we're taking my special needs daughter on her once in a lifetime trip to Disney World. We're going to get home 6 days before Christmas. Christmas Eve is HUGE at my house and I guarantee that the 5 days leading up to Christmas Eve will be so stressful and ugly that it will erase much of the happiness that her Disney trip will give my daughter and I hate that there isn't a darn thing I can do about it.

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    1. Oh, that's such a shame! Maybe we could just wipe holidays off our calendars and say we forgot.

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  27. I think that you are a lot braver than me to actually admit that this is how you feel and not to go to the events, I turn up, don't like it and well, no doubt you can imagine how I feel. What I find even harder is feeling that I have to entertain people - a certain person actually - at my house and I cannot always get out of it although I try and last Christmas achieved it quite well. If you are elsewhere you can get up and leave, but in your own home.... especially when they sit there and never say a nice thing and even if they manage to hold back from criticising the lack of niceness means they might as well do just that. Sorry to go on, you touched a nerve. Hold fast there!!! xx

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    1. Yep, kind of hard to leave when you're the hostess. Maybe you could suggest you all go see a movie. I hear that's big on Christmas Day, although I never go. Movies in the theater are so loud they seem like someone blaring a bull horn straight into my ear. Haven't stepped foot in one in many years. With all the kids losing their hearing now from loud music and such, I can't imagine how loud they have them going now. Probably would blast me straight out of my seat!

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    2. I'm so glad I signed on today too! Amy - once year in the early 90s one of my brothers was still single. He brought a friend of his girlfriend. We USED to have open-door policy, but now (b/c of the girlfriend's friend) we only allow positive ppl - who we actually know!! This was a point in time where spiral perms were popular and I had a spiral perm. This girl told me in front of a group that my hair was "yesterday's news". I was younger at the time, and did not kick her out of our house, but I learned a lesson. If anyone makes my family or friends uncomfortable, then they are on the DO NOT INVITE list !!! (can you drop that certain person's dinner on the floor, and then send her out for pizza and lock the doors LOL)

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  28. I love the holidays. Everything about them. I am already planning our get together for this year. When I was a kid we would have like 30 people for dinner at Christmas. I remember one year an older cousin said to her husband that she thought they better leave. Everyone wanted to know why. It turned out she had been in labor for most of the day, but didn't want to miss the fun. Parts of that large gathering have gotten too large with kids and grands. and even a few greats thrown in. I don't see them so much anymore. But, the other part of the family I spend as much time as I can with
    them. Those that have gone one before me I still mourn. My aunt is 91 and her time is coming close, and I can't imagine my life with out her in it.
    Nope when it comes to family time it is far too important to spend time with those you love. We need each other, we need to spend time with one another. My son comes home several times a month for just because, and he lives 2 hours away. There is love in my family in abundance.
    I am sorry that your family didn't have the same needs as mine.

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    1. It wasn't always this way. When I was married to the second husband, when we didn't have to go anywhere, and I cooked the Thanksgiving meal, I loved it. Because after I cleaned up I would gather craft supplies and my girls and I would start making our handmade Christmas ornaments. I loved seeing them on our tree. Those are wonderful memories.

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    2. I am glad and relieved that you have some good memories of the holidays.

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  29. My latest family gathering was two weeks ago for my mom's 90th birthday. It really was a very stress free occasion. Amazingly no drama. I can't say that all family gatherings have gone that well, though. My brother, who wasn't there, and creates a lot of drama, is planning to come and cook us Thanksgiving dinner. My mom volunteered me to do all of the cleanup. I have said no. So we will see how that all turns out. xo LAura

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    1. Don't you find that the anticipation of the event is just as bad as the event itself?

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    2. YES - anticipation of any dreaded even is just as bad as the event...........or worse! At least during the event you can see an end sooner :)

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  30. Whenever I try to comment on these more serious topics, I find myself 12 paragraphs into some account from my childhood, with a black cloud hovering over me. I always delete such comments and wait until a post comes along about the cardinal on the patio or the latest change to the kitchen! Today is no different. I really want to comment on this post, since it strikes such a strong chord, but then I can't get the awful lyrics to the sad old song out of my head the rest of the day. I'll try anyway.

    I appreciate that you tackle such topics, Brenda. I do spend time mulling over my memories and I actually have made some advancements in recent months. Some memories aren't nearly as painful as they used to be.

    Coping with holidays is a topic of conversation at our house, I do have to say. My husband (second husband, but not second best) has commented more than once on how depressed I get leading up to, during, and after holidays. This includes Mother's Day and Father's Day, which I particularly dread. My parents put a lot of pressure on me and my siblings to create wonderful holiday moments, I think because they both had rather challenging childhoods (my dad's mother died when he was six, and he and his sister got shuttled around among an assortment of poverty-stricken relatives, and my mother's father was an alcoholic, and he and my mom's mother were verbally and physically abusive toward each other.)

    Of course, when you try to create perfect holidays, the moment something doesn't seem perfect, then someone gets upset. Usually, it was my dad who would get very upset about something, and my mom would spend her time placating him and chastising us kids. We got shamed a lot, berated for not showing enough appreciation for gifts that she and dad would have loved to have had when they were kids. Dad usually could be counted on for a second round of such remarks once he got settled down.

    I turned into a real parent-pleaser as a way to cope, and things seemed pretty good until I reached adulthood and occasionally wanted to pursue some notion that didn't sit well with my parents. That caused conflict, and ultimately, helped lead me to want to break away from my family traditions in order to start my own. Of course, I made a poor choice for my first husband. In part, I was attracted to him because holiday gatherings with his family seemed so jolly and fun, without the stress that occurred at my parents' house. What I didn't realize was that his family was just better at covering up the problems. Cases of champagne were a major ingredient of the cover-up.

    After our divorce, there were the years of passing our two children back and forth for the holidays, which was stressful. But, it could have been worse. My ex and I decided not to attend holiday gatherings with each others' family, knowing that it could turn really uncomfortable. My mom and my ex could really rattle each other. (They were so similar! Imagine that -- I married someone similar to one of my parents.)

    The years rolled by, and I met and married my wonderful husband, who wondered why I don't just avoid family gatherings. It gave me something to think about, and I did began picking and choosing what to attend. Interestingly, he began to think about it too, and realized there were a few events with his family that he didn't really want to attend, either. We still tend to put in a brief showing at most major holiday events, but weddings are the main event we stay away from -- they have become so lavish, at a time when we have gone through a job layoff, a move, and a major downsizing in our income and standard of living. We absolutely cannot afford the cost of travel, hotel rooms, the clothing, and so on. We send a gift and good wishes, and are fine with it, even though we know we are making someone, like a mother of the bride, unhappy with us.

    Wow, I made it through a post without deleting it. I'd better hit the publish button quickly, before I change my mind.

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    1. It is fine if you want to just skip right over posts like this and wait and see what the next one is. How about, just because I know how hard this was for you, I post pretty pictures today without any mention of such things? I thank you for being a reader while I'm at it.

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    2. Another great point - the challenge of lavish friends for weddings. If we can't afford what the couple registers for, then we don't go. It is so amazing what people will pick on a registry for others to buy them -- even knowing we all are not in the same tax bracket. PS - JKaye, your hubby is so wise !!! My parents are so sweet, but my Mom turns blush red if someone asks my Dad why he is not showing up for this-or-that ...... he tells them (no filter) Whether "don't want to" (like Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory show) or "there's a football game on" - whatever! Hey, when I'm his age - I doubt I will feel the need to make excuses either !!

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  31. I want to add something -- now that my two kids are adults (in their late 20s), my message to them about holidays is -- do whatever you want. I do not pressure them to visit us or to go to any other family events. I let them know what is going on, and let them choose. My kids grumble about holidays, (because of the stuff I mentioned above). But, they actually have chosen to attend some events on my side of the family that I chose not to attend because I was going to be with my husband's family. They had a fun time, maybe even more fun than if I had been there! They're forming some good relationships with family members that maybe wouldn't happen if I was always there, being their mom. Sometimes, it's good for me to get out of the picture.

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    1. I was lucky about being divorced from my first husband and sharing the kids on holidays. The girls would go to his mother's house for the holiday lunch, and I would serve the holiday supper. It worked well for us.

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  32. Oh Brenda, I so relate to watching the clock and counting the hours! Every time I go to my in-laws, my eye is on the clock and I'm shocked when I realize we've only been there an hour and already I'm want to run out screaming. How will I make it the whole weekend? Fortunately, my husband feels the same so that's helpful.

    I love how you deal with holidays now. When we are young, we think we have to please everyone. It's so good when we realize we will never please everyone and we don't even care to please everyone.

    You writings are so funny! I love your wit.

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    1. When I was young, I felt that I had to do these things. But now I'm well over 50 and getting closer to 60, and I will simply do as I damned well please on this particular, as well as many other, issues.

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    2. I have learned so much tonight catching up on the blog................. All of us 50 Plus have some life experience and wisdom. Keep it simple and keep it happy is the bottom line. I have one relative who is a sweet-heart except holidays/events. She was a BrideZilla 26 years ago and a holiday nightmare. I feel bad for her hubby and family - but we only visit with her on non-holiday days and non-event times when she is not trying to make perfect times while making everyone around her perfectly miserable!

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  33. I loved the holidays years ago when my then large family used to get together . Everyone has grown or passed on and we no longer have the huge celebrations we did back then. The younger generation in my family just don't get together for some reason. I long for the 'good old days' and would give anything to have them back again. I just attended our annual family reunion and the turnout was poor. I was raised with 7 brothers, and although 5 of the 7 did come, I was disappointed to not have seen the other 2. And the shame of it is we all live in close proximity of each other. I haven't seen the other 2 in 3 years since my Mom passed. So I decided I will make an effort to go visit them, even if they don't want to see me. I am at least going to try.

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    1. Well, the good thing about going to see them is that you can leave whenever you want if you feel uncomfortable for any reason. I hope it turns out well for you!

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  34. I liked reading this post. I love holiday family get-togethers. I'm usually the one planning and cooking and decorating. I adore them! BUT my mother did not. Your description of your feelings are so much like hers. She felt awkward and everyone knew it. She dreaded holidays. Especially Christmas. Until I was older, I didn't understand it and I wasn't patient with her. At. All. But older and wiser me realized that she didn't just "decide" to hate holidays. She didn't just decide to "be a Scrooge" as she was sometimes described. She had a history with holidays, and it wasn't pleasant. I slowly began to realize, if not fully understand, that there was real anxiety- and pain- for her during the holidays. And so, I began to leave it up to her to decide whether she would attend. My family didn't like it, but out of love for her I accepted that she just wasn't going to come and enjoy our time together. Don't get me wrong, she loved me and my children (I'm an only child), but she did much better one-on-one in a non-stressful setting. And so, sometimes she came and sometimes she didn't, but it was okay with me. Thanks so much for sharing your feelings! It has given me a little insight into how she must have felt. It's a good thing. Have a blessed day!

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    1. When I was a child, my great-grandmother didn't care for holidays, but her children came and put on a show anyway. I was so uncomfortable it was scary. Those people did not care for me, because of who my mother was and that their mother was having to raise me. (Well until she died when I was 13). They resented that she did not spend time with their own children, which was not my fault. She simply was tired of children. She had raised her own siblings, then 8 of her own children, and my grandmother, who lived with us, was mentally disabled and was never going to grow up and go out on her own. Then my grandmother in her twenties got raped and had my mother, who she then had to raise as well. So then my mother leaves me and I'm there. I knew those relatives did not like me, I could feel it, and I just wanted to crawl in a closet and hide. Holidays were always a tense subject for me.

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    2. Does it make you wonder if maybe it had been better if your mother had put you up for adoption? I've wondered about this very issue, if my daughter were raped and became p.g. how would she/we handle the situation. Reading what you wrote makes me think it would be better to adopt because, the birth family and relatives would look at the child differently, especially if the child looked like it's father. It's just human nature. Still it would be a hard decision. The child would be part of my daughter too. I hope this never happens. Do you think it would have made a big difference in your life if you had been adopted and never knew how you came to be? That's a lot for a child to carry around. I hope your daughters come around. I bet they will in time. They are missing so much but it is their loss. You are an amazing woman to have dealt with so many things and still you've come out of it with a lot of talents and a great personality.

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    3. Brenda, I think that your great-grandmother raising you showed what a good person she was ..... GEESH - the rest of the family should have been helping her out and not putting pressure on her - esp. at holidays. And you were their family so it shows that they were not the good people for not embracing you as a child. THEIR LOSS.

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  35. Thank you Brenda for this post. It's helpful knowing others share some same issues. After receiving a nasty email from my mother yesterday. She can't stand for me to be happy. She has to always shame me. I'm too old for this. GEEZ. I feel everyone's pain. I really do.

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    1. I have a friend that "divorced" her mother. I suppose my two children have "divorced" me too. I emailed my oldest daughter and asked if she'd like to have lunch two days ago, and she wrote back all of the reasons she does not like to be in my presence. Which to me was all the things she is that she projected onto me. So I got mad at this, and emailed her back how she had done the same thing she was blaming me for, and it went from there. The last email I got from her said if I ever contacted her again, she would get a restraining order. Aren't relatives grand?

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    2. Brenda, that is so sad! I am having 'growing pains' with my 30 something daughter also. She just told me she was mad about something we had for dinner, 20 years ago! I'm going to be patient and let her mature. I told her I'm not perfect, life isn't perfect and this is the age where you realize it and it's a bit disappointing. This too shall pass, as they say...

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  36. Brenda, for over 60 years I thought I was just "odd". I enjoy staying home, and when plans made get cancelled, I am usually happy about it. A good book is a good friend. I was a trainer at a large insurance corp. and attended endless meetings and did presentations in front of many many people. But, I then always needed some time alone to recharge myself. I do enjoy my family and good friends, but they can deplete me, too. THEN I read an article about Introverts and fireworks went off. I finally had a name to put to it.

    "If you are at a party and you notice an individual who is not quite comfortable with the boisterous atmosphere of the party, there are significant chances that she is an introvert. These people tend to get energized in solitude and hence, they are seldom seen socializing. Introverts are self-conscious people, who are always concerned about what other people are thinking about them. They seldom participate in group activities, and their hobbies and interests are most often confined to activities which only involves them. They are much more interested in reading, writing, drawing, etc. Sports or outings do not feature in their list of interests. They are not comfortable in crowded places, nor do they like unexpected visitors.

    Though they don't express their feeling, introverts are quite thoughtful in nature. The fact that they prefer to think before talking helps them to amass vast knowledge without putting it on display. They are witty indeed, but they do find it difficult to tell jokes to a group of people. They get conscious wondering how others will react to it. Introverts can be highly passionate, but their passion seldom turns to aggression. They are patient enough to devote their attention to a particular subject for long duration, without getting disturbed by any sort of distraction or boredom." Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/introvert-personality.html

    I have found many things on Pinterest about Introverts, and now I can understand why I don't like to talk on the phone, hate running into people at the store, many times don't answer the door, etc. My husband is definitely an Extrovert, so it keeps things interesting, It took quite a few years for us to come to a place where we understand each other, and I do, many times tell him I simply can't do something/ attend a function, etc. because .... I just can't. He used to think I was just being bitchy about it, but now we both understand so much more. Just a thought, Brenda!!!!!!!! (I have many relatives I don't see, including my only sister, but that is not connected to being an Introvert ~~ just because they are family doesn't mean we have much in common when we each took such different paths in life.)

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    1. I do believe you and I are on the same wavelength. Homebodies/introverts, hermits, whatever they want to call us. It is our comfort zone.

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    2. Oh wow - I love Pinterest and I am a home-body, but so is my husband. When we were younger, and saving for our first place, we skipped movies, restaurants, etc and got razzed and teased a lot by friends our age. But I notice with kids -- the more extroverted ones are not always even as happy as the introverted ones. Because the introverts don't have to be entertained all the time. They like to read, be home, or what-not. For me .. my first job was customer service (8 hours and some weekends on the phones) To this day - I hate the telephone too. This is just about the most enlightening, eye-opening post I've read! If everyone read Brenda's blog I think everyone would understand each other much better (work, neighbors, friends and family too)

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    3. You are right. As an Introvert we are much happier at home or in a small group of family/ friends. My energy is zapped by any large gathering. An Introvert isn't lonely as we enjoy our time alone. We choose that option. I am very happy with a book to read, gardening, or working on some crafts, all by myself. We have a wedding to attend tomorrow and I am already exhausted just thinking about it. I keep thinking "in about 24 hours we will be on our way home." Sometime just type in Introvert on Pinterest!!!

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    4. I love reading this post. Thank you, Chris for all your insight into introverts. I too thought I was the only one. So many times I'm in a group of people and wishing I was somewhere, anywhere else! Once when we were at a VFW Hall for a New Year's Party with my husband's family, Iasked my FIL how he was doing. His reply always stuck with me. He said, "I'd rather be digging a ditch than be here!" I understood it perfectly! It's always amazed me how people will make plans for get-togethers, like ALL the time. One get-together and I'm good for 6 months. Also the women who work out of the home and on weekends, want to go out and party. I wanted "down time" when I worked. My main interests is decorating and refinishing/painting furniture. Give me a list of garage sales to go to with one close friend or just by myself and I'm a happy camper. I have sat at many a party and wished I was at home, digging a ditch! Nice to know I'm in good company.

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    5. Oh, Donna!! What a good "line". At this wedding today, I will picture myself out (in the heat and humidity) digging a ditch. There will be a smile on my face because I could be alone w/ my thoughts. When people tell me (so happily) that they have gatherings every weekend of the summer, or the entire holiday season, I can barely breathe just imagining that. Now it is less than 12 hours and we will be home. I find comfort in THAT!!!! :-)

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  37. You are so dang honest. Family is either a blessing or a curse. Staying home in jammies is my first choice always, dogs near, tea cup in hand, old movies on. But...sometimes one can't get away with it. As I get older, I find it easier to be true to self. We are who we are. If we can find our own comfort...we don't have to feel guilty about it. Comfort and self love, after a lifetime of giving ourselves away, is a gift we give ourselves, with no baggage. Dammit!

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  38. I am blessed that my small family all get along great......but if any hint of drama comes up..I just cut the conversation short and move on. Hoping they get the point. However, my ex had a large family and the get togethers gave me huge anxiety. I am used to a small family.

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    1. I think a lot of it is what we've been accustomed to and how well we handle large crowds.

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  39. I used to envy families that got together on holidays..now that I'm older I'm starting to enjoy the peace & quiet..I do still cook a holiday meal though..

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    1. Oh, the peace and quiet is the gift I give myself!

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  40. I love the hollidays but I hate family get togethers. My mum and dad always forced me to attend and they were always hell When I was 11, I so hated the thought of Thanksgiving at my aunt's that I ate half a package of chocolate Ex-Lax squares so my parents couldn't force me to attend.

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    1. Ooh, Kari, that was really a little girl who didn't want to go! But I bet you "went" for quite some time. Geez, I'm sorry. I know how you felt.

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  41. I came from a family of 9 children...we all were taught every day how to argue fight and disagree...my mom and dad were our best teachers...as adults we all grew had our own families....tried getting together occasionally on holidays but always ended up in jealousy arguments and things being said that always hurt my feelings so my husband and I chose to stop going and that is what we did...we have a dighter who gave us 5 grandchildren and they are who we hang with on the holidays...never any fighting...only love and joy...life is too short to be around those negative people...we have love now and cannot even think about how it use to be...different strokes for different folks!! haha,,and we love it! Carol

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    1. Absolutely! Different strokes for different folks.

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  42. I've already posted once, but please forgive. I just thought of a funny story about my MIL. She was like you, Brenda. Hated crowds even if it was family. We had a family reunion with all her kids, gkids, ggkids, etc; and everyone seemed to be having lots of fun. We took a secret ballot vote to see whether we would have it again in 1, 3, 5 years or not at all. When the votes were counted, one person voted not to have it again. Puzzled, my brother-in-law asked who had voted not to have it again. With a very sheepish look on her face, my MIL raised her hand. You can imagine the laughter that ensued. Well, by golly, she was so determined not to have it again, she died before the next summer. So I guess you would say she had the last laugh. P.S. there were no more family reunions.

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