Today, my wife
and I are flying to my parents' house for the first holiday since our wedding
. While I'm normally a bundle of nerves about holidays with my family to begin with, this event has increased the stress ten-fold.
Most of my skittishness this time is that we aren't renting a car upon arrival in Albany. I know, it sounds like such a simple, needless thing to be breaking myself over, but it's true. At least if we had a car we could escape the aftermath of one of my family's patented holiday blowouts, if need be. I'm sure that everyone's family has some kind of memorable holiday story about one member getting pissed at another member. How I wish that the memories of my childhood could have the same kind of quaint, almost cute little spats that seem to be over well before the holiday meal. No, I'm afraid that's simply not the case. The turmoil caused by a christmas that wasn't going perfectly in my mother's eye would have repercussions lasting well into the spring.
The first holiday that I spent out of my parents house was when I was living in Horseheads with Amy. We were invited over to her parents' house for dinner, and it was really nice. However, I was worried out of my head for something to go wrong. For someone to go and do something to cause ripples that could be felt until the end of time. Nothing happened. Even throughout he opening of gifts, I waiting for turmoil that never materialized. The second that I got in the car with her to go home, I grabbed her, pushed my face into her shoulder, and cried for about ten minutes. We talked a lot about family that night, eventually deciding that my family was, as I has always suspected, fucked up.
In talking with my older brother last year about such fun holiday memories, he also admitted to having a very similar experience the first christmas that he spent with his wife's family. But, we also admitted that things have been better lately with my parents. My mother has finally reached the other side of her decades-long nervous breakdown. We both have huge geographic buffers to escape to in order to comfort those fears. And, more importantly, we have self determination, with the ability to just stay the hell away from there if so desired.
This year, my wife asked if we could go out there for Thanksgiving. I agreed, more for us than for her. It's important for her to meet all those people back there that she hasn't been introduced to. I know that it's important to be there for holidays and such. I can at least put my feelings aside enough to do that.
But I will also pull her aside at some point, let a few tears of terror creep down my face, and whisper to her my reminder. This is not the family I grew up with.