Guest Author - Kathie LoMonaco
For some, the holidays can trigger emotions - some positive, some deeply painful. I believe the older we get the more one reflects and reminisces of holidays gone by - and the loved ones who we have lost. Along with that, many of us have current issues with other family members that never get resolved. Dysfunction still reigns.
Years ago when I was a child I found out (from who I don’t remember) that, before my Mother met my Father, she had become engaged to a tall, strapping Polish gentleman by the name of Bill. One special Christmas Eve, upon leaving my Grandmother’s house after giving my Mother an engagement ring, he slammed into a wall on his motorcycle and was killed instantly. After finding that out, things made much more sense to me as to why at the Christmas Holidays my Mother, more often than not, sunk into a depression and a melancholia. She unfortunately had a drinking problem all her life. The Holidays were always a sad time for her. Sadder still, me and my two siblings always braced for the worst as the holidays arrived. Her sadness trickled down.
As the years have flown by, I realize that the older I get the more melancholy I do get at the Holidays. Bittersweet memories. My Mother and Father are gone, as are many of my other relatives of their generation. There is no more family comraderie among cousins as there was in days gone by when our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were the glue that held our families together - when we all got together at the Holidays especially and enjoyed each other’s company.
Those departed relatives would be crestfallen to know that there has been much dissention among my generation of relatives - siblings, even cousins who have, for some strange reason, decided to take ’sides’ against others within the family, and sadder still, taken umbrage with certain of ’us’ on matters that have nothing to do with them and do not involve them (..'judge not lest you be judged'). I can't even get started on the 'sibling rivalry' that has tainted my family for years. My parents would be aghast if they were here and experienced or heard of the bad behavior.
I, myself, have had a long-standing situation with a sibling of mine, as has my sister as well - where we have not spoken to that sibling in years. You could say that sibling has been the black sheep of the family. Sad to say, but it is with good reason. We never really felt he was a brother to us - unfortunately, his friends were always his top priority. That, coupled with the fact that his spouse is very insecure within the relationship causing a mean-spirited-ness; she has been quite disrespectful, making it an impossible situation.
But, to make matters worse, the last few affairs I have attended in my family of cousins - have been uncomfortable. I couldn’t quite figure out why there had been a palpable tension in the air - and the fact that certain of my cousins, while they invited me to affairs, were stand-offish. Some of them never responded/acknowledged invites I made to them. From time to time over the years I had tried to reach out to some, but to no avail.
Well, thanks to my sister who put me wise, I am wondering no more. She was the catalyst in advising me that the reason my cousins are not (warmly) receptive towards me is because they are ‘siding’ with my brother. I then flashed back to about eight years ago when I was at a wedding for another cousin in the family - as I exited the church, this particular (female) cousin approached me quite aggressively - admonishing me for the fact that I do not speak to my brother - directly after the wedding, and right smack in front of the church steps! She appeared annoyed and angry with me -telling me off - absolutely shocking me. What galls me most is that - that same cousin has no qualms with my sister and has even gotten quite schmoozy with her in the recent past - even though my sister feels the same way as I do where our sibling is concerned and also does not speak to him. I am at a loss as to why the animosity of this cousin was dumped on me while she flagrantly ignores the fact that, like me, my sister does not speak to our brother either.
This ill treatment of me by my own cousin has caused me mental and emotional anguish. When you attend affairs within the family and many of those family members avoid or ignore you at the affair(s), it is mental and emotional cruelty. They have formed opinions and judgments which are quite unfair and biased - especially since they have no clue about the many injustices within my situation with my sibling. Not to mention the fact that good Christians do not act in this manner. Respect is a big thing for me - and when someone does not show respect, I wash my hands of them. I gave my brother and his wife many chances and each time they had their own agenda which impacted me and my life so deeply and so hurtfully.
Getting back to that particular cousin who approached me outside the church -- How is it that people can boldly insert themselves into your world and your business as if it were any of their business? Relative or no relative, it was not her place to 1) get involved and 2) it was not the time nor the place. Then, to take sides while having no qualms about hob-nobbing with my sister while judging me, is hypocritical to say the least. I would never treat anyone with such disregard and disrespect.
This, I might add, is the same cousin whose birthday bash I attended years back - and who barely spoke to me the entire night - at her birthday - then, only at the 12th hour when most people had departed the party did she give me any acknowledgment - she had to as we were down to ONE table of guests left! Yes, it was very hurtful - aside from her never acknowledging the 2 gifts I left for her at her party. As an aside - to attend her party was very costly as my car was in the repair shop and therefore, me and my partner even hired a car service for the night to travel into Manhattan for the party. Sometimes I think I try too hard.
All this, and it is only the tip of the iceberg where relatives are concerned - and I'm sure that holds true for many of you reading this as well. Again, dysfunction reigns.
I have always been a very loyal and devoted friend to those I have a close relationship with. I have always treated others as I would want them to treat me. It may seem harsh to some, but when someone shows me disrespect and disregard, I have no choice but to kick them to the curb.
In closing, my Christmas wish is not only that there be Peace on Earth - but also that there be Peace within families. Life is too short. Then one by one, family members are gone and you can never again make things right. If nothing else, Please remember that. Granted, there are some things/people that, try as you might, will never change. But, at least you tried. Friends come and go, but Family is forever.