They posted the holiday sign-up schedule at work. All full-time employees have to work 3 of the 6 holidays: Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, New Years Day.
In light of my family situation, I think I may work all of them. Whenever I think about how fractured my family has become, I feel immense sadness. Mom going off and reliving her teenage years. John has his own family and our contact with him is little. Mike has pulled away from everyone and is keeping to himself.
Oh, what's left of my clan, we love each other, but we've become too far apart...like ships traveling to other lands, with other purposes. I can't help but feel some resentment. What if things had played out differently? What if my family members we not so damn selfish? Me! Me! Me!
I spoke with my mother the other day, who mentioned she wasn't going to do anything this Christmas because, "it's just another day." Sometimes, I feel like she says these things to make me feel guilty. Like I am to blame because we are not close anymore. This guilt trip, however, didn't work. Guilt trips seldom do.
"Yup," I said. "Just another day...which is why I will probably be working." She grew quiet. I don't think that was the answer she was expecting.
It seems that all my life I have tried to keep my family together. I remember once, when I was 16, my father tossed my belongings (in bags) out on the front lawn because I went to a school function with my cousin. He saw it as fraternizing with the enemy (my mother's family). The neighbors across the street called Family Services, reporting that he had kicked his daughter out of the house and onto the street.
Surprise, surprise! A social worker with a police officer comes to our door days later. Thank God I had the foresight to actually have the house cleaned. Thank God my father was off on a drunken toot and wasn't home. I told them he was at work.
She and the officer walked around the house, taking notes on her little notepad. We didn't live in a nice house. The dining room floor sloped where the house (over 100 years old) had settled. Holes in the plaster walls. A leaky kitchen ceiling where it sagged, threatening to cave in. The social worker took note of all of it.
She wanted to know about "the incident". I shrugged and played it off like it was no big deal, like it happened often and things had blown over, that the threat was idle. Inside, my heart was racing. What if they took me and my brothers away? What if they separated us into foster homes? I had to do everything in my power to prevent this from happening! Who else would stand up for us if I didn't?
I offered to make the social worker and the police officer some coffee. They declined, but the social worker noted it: "Offered to make coffee". Of all the things she wrote, this is the only thing I remember.
My brothers and I were not taken to foster homes that day. If I had admitted that my father was off somewhere, had no idea where he was, and that he would routinely be gone for 3-4 days, I'm sure things would have played out differently.
All things considering, I think we turned out okay. Any one of us could have easily gone a different, easier, and more disasterous route in life. I'd like to think that our experiences toughened us up, made us stronger, made us want more out of life than what our parents had. The one flaw in both my brothers is that they are not assertive. I realize that they never had to stand up for themselves because I always did it for them. Once, a "friend" of the family, who probably outweighed me by a good 250lbs, grabbed Johnny when he said some smartass remark (he apparently thought he was going to reprimand him). Before I even knew it, I was in the guy's face, screaming at him that if he ever touched my brother again, I'd kill him with my bare hands. I'm sure that was a sight...little 17 year old me in my drill team outfit, standing toe to toe with a fat guy who looked like he rode for the Hell's Angels.
Why I'm still standing here, I have no idea.
I've decided that I am done being the glue that holds the family together. Let it be someone else's job. After 16+ years, I'm officially retiring the position of "Family Savior and Martyr".
Mom has said she wishes I wasn't such a hard person. I've had thick skin since before I even had a drivers' license. I don't know how to be anything but, and maybe that's why none of my relationships ever work out. Some guys fear me. One guy I used to date told me that "I wasn't the kind of girl he could take to the Temple" which pretty much is the reason I stopped dating Mormon boys.
I'm a hardass because I was raised to be one. It's going to take someone with pretty big balls to be able to stand up to me, as well as beside me.
Paul once asked me why I was so hard on people. The words were out of my mouth before I even had a chance to think about the question.
"Because I want people to be better." He marveled at my answer. To be honest, so did I.
Such a simple thing: Just be better. Be better so I don't have to be such an asshole all the time.