That time of year is on us again. It's going to be harder than usual for me this year as it'll be the first year in all of my 58 years that I haven't spent Christmas with mum. For the last 20 years, too, Christmas has just been me and mum. I've usually gone to her place on Christmas Eve and stayed over until Boxing Day. It's been our special time together. My brother and his wife live just a few minutes away, but they've never invited her over in all of that time, and they always spend Christmas with my sister-in-law's family. They usually called in on mum for a couple of hours on Christmas Eve... and then she wouldn't see them again until the new year (though my brother would always give mum a ring on Christmas morning). For a few years now, I've had a standing joke that he should have taken her surname at marriage rather than the other way around! I've spoken at length about her in other posts, so people will know how I feel. She's a narcissist. She's brainwashed my brother over the years, estranged him from his natural children, created difficulties for me... basically, caused a lot of emotional damage. She's divisive and manipulative: a very toxic person anyway, but especially to someone like me. For a long time now, I've kept friendly with them mainly for mum's sake.
Now that mum's no longer with us, there isn't really a need to keep that pretence up any longer. So I've told my brother that I'm simply not going to do Christmas this year. I don't especially feel like it, anyway - but mainly it's so that I don't need to have anything to do with them. I'm not going to write Christmas cards or buy any gifts. We only really gave token gifts, anyway. There are some family members - a couple of aunts and cousins - that I could send cards to. But my brother's in touch with them as well, and I'm sure he'd find out and would be upset. So it's just easier to leave it altogether. I think they'll all understand, anyway.
I can't help feeling mean about it all, though. It's just a card, after all. I sent my brother and his wife their birthday cards and gifts as normal in July (three months after mum's passing) because I would have felt awkward not doing it. It was a token gesture on my part. A bit of 'people-pleasing, too. I need to break ties, though. They don't really mean anything to me. Also, I find it very hard to forgive some of the damage that she's done. My brother's natural daughter, who's now over 40 and happily married and settled, still has tears over the 'loss' of her father. I think, if I'm absolutely honest, he suffers because of it all and is torn up inside. But nonetheless, he's made his life choices. If anything happened to his wife - and her health is precarious - he would be totally lost. Having said that, her family will take him in. He spends more time with them than with any on my side. He even holidays with them. And, as I said, he's always with them for Christmas.
Families! I wonder how other people feel about my intentions - and how other people deal with these matters themselves at this time. It's very difficult.
I emailed my brother last week to say that I'd decided to spend the money I'd normally have spent on Christmas cards and presents on making donations to local animal charities that mum supported. I hadn't heard back until this morning. He didn't really comment on the gesture - saying it's a good idea or anything, like others have said. He seemed friendly enough in tone - but there was one sentence that caught me:
Carrying on with Christmas with as much normality as possible with presents bought for close family only, especially where the kids are involved of course
Tell me it's just my Aspie head suggesting things to me - but I thought I detected an emphasis on 'close' and 'of course'. I think he might be trying to guilt-trip me.
The thing is - I don't really 'know' any of these people any longer, apart from my niece, who's the only one I'm friendly with (and, not coincidentally, the only one that he and his wife are no longer friendly with). The kids are all spoilt rotten and have everything they will ever need, so every year it's always been a struggle to find something new. They're not exactly 'kids' anymore, either. The youngest is 8, the eldest 15. I've never received an acknowledgement from anyone (apart from mum) about what I've given - not even a 'thank you' card from any of the 'kids'. And because we're all quite distanced anyway, it's always been guesswork.
I think Christmas is just crazy now. A commercial consumerist nightmare-fest. Why give gifts that are probably going to end up in charity shops in January when you can just give directly to the charities?
I'm not really going to worry about it. They can do and think what they like... as usual!
Martian Tom said:They can do and think what they like... as usual!
that is pretty much all you can do....got a christmas card in the post from my mum yesterday...I haven't opened it....i've just chucked in a drawer.
i haven't got the emotional strength to open that particularly tricky box.....let the NTs enjoy themselves....
i was tempted to start a new thread to find out who would be on the forum on Christmas Day....! -- so i could see who was about to "hang out" with.... lol
Do it! I'll be hanging out here - cigars and finest malt to hand!
best result this week....dishwasher died...so I don't have any reason now not to stay in the kitchen for the whole event whilst everyone can do "their" thing!!
I shall just conveyer belt cook and clean up!!
what malts do you have? hehe!
None yet. Glen Royal is my favourite, which is a bonus as it's one of the cheaper ones. If my dishwasher died, I'd be dead too. It's me!
Martian Tom said:
it's not Christmas anymore, it is Commercemas!
Thanks. I always bin charity postings. I only give to local, small charities, anyway - animal sanctuaries, hospices, etc. I bought a load of cat goodies this morning and took them to a local cat charity shop that supports fosterers of feline waifs and strays. I got Daisy from one of their 'foster-keepers'.
He'll get the message, if and when I publish my book. They're selfish, self-centred, thoughtless people. He's never even acknowledged my role in caring for mum during those final months. Essentially, keeping her alive and happy. All I got was being let off £7.23 - the difference between what I spent and what he spent on the funeral arrangements.
They'd never invite me over. Just as, for about 20 years, they never invited mum over, either. She'd always have been on her own at Christmas if I'd not gone there.
Here's the text of an email I've just sent to my brother. Honestly, if it wasn't for him and his wife, I would send cards. But if they found out I'd done so and not sent any to him or his step-daughter (I have absolutely no wish to have anything to do with her again, as I think he knows), then there would be another earthquake that I could do without right now. It's a very tricky thing - but maybe it'll come to a head in some way over Christmas. I want nothing more to do with them at all. Our relationship is superficial, to say the least. There's no love-loss. If he still thinks of me in some way as 'close' family, when his closest family now hardly consists of a blood relative at all, then he's seriously deluded.
Anyway... I've been as diplomatic as possible, I think...
I went over to Ramsgate on Saturday and gave a donation to the cats charity shop in the High Street (where Daisy came from). I've also given something to Pilgrim's Hospice. The Dogs' Trust shop is no longer there, so I'll probably take something over to the rescue centre in Chestfield. Another thing I've done is given something to The Woodland Trust, for which they'll plant a tree in memory of a loved one. I did it for two trees, actually - one each for mum and dad - which will be planted in Brede High Woods, Sedlescombe, East Sussex. It's quite close to Peasmarsh.
I understand your need to have Christmas with as much normality as possible. I'm doing what I can in that way. I bought a small tree in the market and have put that up. But that's as much as I feel like doing. It'll be the first Christmas Day in my life that I haven't spent with mum, as child and adult. For the last twelve years, too, it's just been the two of us together on Christmas Day. So, it can't really be a normal Christmas Day for me. I'm intending to go over to a homeless shelter in Canterbury - or maybe to another shelter in Ramsgate, where a friend (in a similar situation, with her mum in a home with Alzheimer's) is helping out. I'm sure there's something I can do there for a few hours - even if it's just chat to the folk. Apart from that, I just want to be at home alone for the rest of the season. I know that sounds dismal, but it actually suits me and is what I prefer to do. I'm off until the Wednesday, so it'll just be a couple of days - as with most, I suppose.
J**** got in touch to find out what I was doing, and I told her about my intentions - including not wishing to have gifts bought for me. I'd just sooner not. She said she'd pass that on to C****. Most people should know, anyway. It's the first year I haven't sent cards. I usually wrote all mine and sent them on the first weekend in December. The one thing I've done is write a letter to I**** in Canada - sending her a calendar, as mum always did. Some people may not agree with what I'm doing, and perhaps think I should make the effort. That's not something I can do much about, though. Most of the people I've spoken to about it - friends at work, etc - agree with it. But I can't please everyone. I've often tried to, but I can't do it this time. Like I said, I hope everyone will at least understand and respect my feelings and wishes.
Hope all's going okay. Speak to you soon.
All the best,
J and C are his natural children. J is the one most damaged by the estrangement from him. He probably won't be happy that we're in contact - but that's his problem, I'm afraid!