Love, Life, and Family-Mend Fences at the Holidays

Love, Life, and Family-Mend Fences at the Holidays

By Carrie Eckles


December 25, 2012 will be my first Christmas without my mom.

The furthest I’ve ever been away from her was a six hour drive. There isn’t a greater distance than the distance between life and death. And I’m not talking about the afterlife or how they’re in your heart—they’re always close when you think about it that way. I’m talking about the fact that physically, we’re as distant as two people can ever be. I can never hug my mom again. She will never hear “I love you” or “Merry Christmas, Mommy” with her ears. I will never see my mom again—at least, not in this world.

So, what I want to say to you, person to person, is: be with the ones you love this holiday season. My mom was 51. Her death was sudden. Life is short. Don’t let grudges, annoyances or passive-aggressive mother-in-laws deny you basically the only thing that even matters in life: being with the ones you love.

Is a disagreement reason enough to miss these special moments?

I can’t count how many times a friend has bitched to me because their parent said some snide remark and they’ve decided not to go to said parent’s house for Christmas dinner. Big deal. So what if your mother told you not to bring anything to dinner because you can’t cook? That’s no reason to write her out of your life. She’s just being a bitch. And if we cut out everyone who’s a bitch to us at some point, we lose everyone.

What if it’s something worse than that? What if she doesn’t like your boyfriend? Well, there’s probably a reason. It could range from just not liking his piercings to her knowing that he’s a womanizer, something she can tell because she’s lived a lot longer than you, and has seen it all before. I’m all for rebelliousness. I may be a nerd, but even I dyed my hair maroon when I was fifteen. I understand wanting to go against the grain and stick up for your boyfriend—especially if your family doesn’t like him, and you really do. But, instead of flying off the handle and ruining your holiday, start a dialogue about it. You may actually learn something. Worst case scenario: you and your mom continue to disagree. Life still goes on. And your chosen winter holiday wasn’t cut short by something that is, ultimately, trivial.

I know families fight around the holidays. Tension about money, disagreements on religion or politics, or even how the potatoes are made—all of it seems to just boil over the surface at this time of year. But, here’s a simple solution: don’t let it.

I’m not saying repress your feelings; instead, I’m saying, don’t be overly sensitive, don’t be passively aggressive, and for God’s sake—don’t throw things.

If you don’t have to be alone, don’t!

They may drive you nuts, but they’re your family. And there is value in that. These people are your people. They are your blood. They birthed you, raised you, nursed you when you were sick, and were damned proud when you graduated college. They had your back when teachers said you were stupid and they held you while you cried. All of that—it means everything.

And what if they weren’t great? I counter that with: whoever said family had to be biological? Your family is the people in your life who you love more than anything, and they’re the people who love you back unconditionally. Family doesn’t have to be blood. They can be your neighbors, your classmates, and your best friend. Family can even be someone on the other side of a computer screen a thousand miles away.

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