Christmas was my favourite day, until it wasn't
Coronavirus isn't the reason I'm spending the holiday season without my family, but it is the perfect excuse.
As a child, Christmas was my favourite day of the year. My extended family were, to my small-self, the greatest comedy sketch ever performed. The 25th of December was packed to the brim with watching the grown ups exchange cocktail recipes, wearing extravagant dresses and showing off your haul from the earliest wake up call of the year.
At the ripe old age of twenty-two, I've avoided my extended family Christmas for five years now. This year, I won't see a single family member on the big day. It would be perhaps, 'normal', for me to avoid my family had they done something absolutely repulsive to me, but alas, that's not the case. My family isn't evil. They aren't even particularly dysfunctional.
To be completely honest, they're just people I don't want to spend time with, let alone the most widely celebrated public holiday of the year.
'I clicked on this for a juicy story and you have LET ME DOWN, you saucy minx!' I hear you scream into your phone.
There is no juice to this story, just family.
My grandfather thinks feminism is mythical. My father won't see a psychologist to be diagnosed with an abundantly clear personality disorder. My cousin thinks Jordan Peterson is God's gift to man. My aunt is my older self, waiting for me to catch up. My uncle is the best home-cook I've ever come across. My mother won't be in the same room as my father unless it's in court. My brother is my favourite person on earth. My grandmother has a boyfriend at her nursing home who she beats at chess most days.
My inner child hero-worshipped each of these people at some point, extensively. A revolving door of idolisation, I was at the beck and call of each of them, their interests, their talents and their needs. As a fully grown person with the capacity for critical thought, I have reservations about some and blind hatred for others.
Cover image: Wix Illustrations
In my adult life I have become disenfranchised with both special, pressurised days like Christmas and the people they involve. I refuse to leave my values at the door for anyone, let alone those who are committed to causing harm. This isn't to say every member of my family represents this misunderstanding, simply, the combination of the caring and the callous threatens the foundations of confidence I have re-built in my adult life, much of which was destroyed by these same people throughout my childhood.
'You sad cow, I bet you're no saint', I hear you mutter. You're absolutely fucking correct. In many ways, my left wing rhetoric only heightens the toxicity amongst the festivities. That does not mean I am going to pipe down when faced with vitriolic commentary on socio-political issues. To remove myself from an environment that is both exhausting and unchanging is, in many ways, the healthiest way to approach a day designed for love, which almost always ends in tears.
It is my belief that the, 'blood does not run thicker than water' argument is a giant crock of shit. I don't spend Christmas alone, but with friends and their families. Tangible relationships with clear boundaries, motives and interconnected values. The people I love and the people who share my DNA make up the narrowest intersection of a Venn diagram on record.
For those of you who adore your family, I am so happy for you. Genuinely. There is so much beauty in authentic love for those who raised you and loved you. For me, some members of immediate family still symbolises great strength and connection and I have great respect for supportive familial units. You should bask in the glory of this loveliness.
But, for those who struggle with the isolation and trauma relatives can represent, I hear you. Crack a bottle, wrap yourself a gift and wear the most extravagant outfit in your wardrobe, it does not have to suck.