Thanksgiving. It is only a short time away at the time I write this entry. And yet, I could easily go into hibernation from Mid November to Mid January and not have missed anything important. I guess it's because I have few pleasant childhood memories of the season.
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Fifty-Fifty Five years ago or so, I can remember going to my Aunt's house on Long Island for every Thanksgiving holiday. The adults in my mom's side of the family felt that children were meant to be seen and not heard. With no cousins near my age, spending holidays with this side of the family was very unpleasant because I was bored as hell and had no way to occupy my time.
Christmas and New Year's wasn't much better, as it was a visit to a different relative's house (either in Manhattan, the Bronx, or New Jersey) and the same issues with boredom and no one to play with. The two cousins that were my own age were girls, and my brother was way too young for me to do things with. If it had been up to me, I'd have stayed home and enjoyed myself. But who was going to let a child my age stay home when there was family to see?
Without the ability to develop any close relationships with my extended family, I found that I could very easily do without any of them. When I got married, the only reason that my mom's siblings were invited to the reception was that my mom wanted me to get some of the money back that she had been shelling out for my cousins' weddings.
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In a normal, more healthy relationship, GFJ and I would be spending holidays with each other's family by now. This is not the case. I accept this because of several things:
- I don't think the relationship will last (me being transgender being one factor in this).
- She is obviously hedging her bets, in part, because her divorce is not final.
- I like not being tied together at the hip for most activities.
- She may not be able to make any plans until she has reached a position of stability in her life. (She's almost 63, and has to figure out what she will do for money, where she will live, and what she really needs in a partner - if she really wants one at this stage in her life.)
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But back to the Holidays....
Even when my wife was alive, we enjoyed being with each other, but found it a chore to get together with my family. It didn't help that having to cross the East River on the holidays was a major pain in the ass. I can still remember a Thanksgiving where it took us four hours to get across the Throggs Neck Bridge and get to my parents' place. My wife and I made a decision to never visit on any holiday again - and as long as she lived, we kept to that decision.
Recently, I commemorated the 21st anniversary of my wife's passing. When she passed, the holidays lost whatever little meaning they had for me. They became a big chore. Christmas became a Potlach ceremony geared to spend money on things for others that they didn't want or need, and to receive things that would require me going back to a store to exchange the item for something I'd remotely want but didn't want bad enough to spend my money on.
When I started dating after my wife's death, I enjoyed being with my girl friends' families more than being with my own. I guess it's because I felt valued and that I didn't have the childhood baggage of being bored with these people. Occasionally, Vicki would invite her family over for a gathering of odd fellows and ladies, and I was included. These were fun dinners, and I miss them now. So it's back to seeing my brother and his clan, and I'll enjoy this as long as my dad is still alive.
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If things had worked out, I'd have been on a 11 day cruise by the time you've read this post. Without enough money coming in, I could not do this. And in many ways, this is just as well. Sometimes, one has to confront one's feelings instead of escaping from them.