A friend said to me the other day , "Sometimes we just have to pick ourselves a new family. " It's at this time of the year around the holidays the wisdom of those words is most obvious to me.
It's been over 20 years since I made the split from my family of origin. The first couple of years it was odd and a bit stilted around the holidays as I worried about possible repercussions and dealt with disapproving comments. But I held my ground and after that I settled in pretty well into the comfort of real "Happy Holidays" as my in-laws gave up on manipulating me back into line. It definitely became easier as each year passed.
To be honest, I have not missed any of it............the tension or the stress that came just wondering what would happen next. Who would say the wrong thing and become the object of ridicule..........and whispered conversations.........or worse yet, screaming and yelling........... the drinking..........the invasions into my personal boundaries or those of my kids...........the unmet expectations that would be fodder for the whole entire year..............the embarrassments...........all of those things that made up a family get together.
Instead the biggest thing I have to worry about for the holidays is lumps in the gravy and whether my pie crust will turn out flaky enough. We've been able to establish our own family traditions with no unrealistic expectations to meet.
My new replacement family pretty much resides in my barn. They don't complain much......well, a bit of grumbling when they're fed late or the water is empty.......but mostly they are just happy to see me. If I do screw up, they easily forgive and forget.
My kids have long since realized that I'm not going to change. I think they've grow to appreciate the quality of our visits. While I may forget to take care of things like Kodak moments, I think the feeling around our house at the holidays is one of safety and security for everyone.
For me I can't think of a better way to spend the holidays..........my kids and their kids over for dinner...........my horses tucked away in the barn happily munching their hay............a day that will not haunt me the whole rest of the year.