OK so FOMO is an acronym rather than a word but it is what today is about for me. We are in day 2 of the Easter weekend which for Australians is a four day weekend. Traditionally many Australians take the opportunity to have a mini holiday often featuring camping or visits to the beach. For us winter is approaching. Days are getting shorter, mornings and evenings are just that little bit cool and we are reminded that it could be our last chance to enjoy the great outdoors.
The situation with my parents is a bit weird. They live a six hour drive away from me. Visiting for holidays like Easter and Christmas is not just popping over for dinner it is an Odyssey. It involves visiting for at least two days or back to back six hour drives. Add the guilt, the stupid mind games and general negativity that my mother generates by being a toxic person and Easter and Christmas frequently have the joy sucked out of them.
As we were planning this visit I was being positive about it. It is necessary, it means I have don’t my duty and I will be able to be free for a while. Our lifestyle friends were attending a camp which sounded much more fun but I made the conscious decision to do the right family thing. It just so happened that the campsite was on the way to where we were going to visit my family. So we took a detour to visit for an hour or so.
Whilst the visit itself was enjoyable and meant that we could connect with some people we hadn’t seen for a while it was also a little frustrating. We couldn’t stay even though it looked fun. Today I hit the point where I realised that you can make the most of a bad situation but in the end it is a bad situation. The whole day I have been thinking about the camp we visited and wishing that I was there.
As I was preparing to write this I read through some of my old posts about Christmas. I was interested to read this one and to compare my thoughts about Christmas in 2021 with my thoughts about Christmas in 2022. I was actually really surprised about how different they were. Somewhere, somehow I have had a complete change of thinking.
For many years I allowed my mother to dictate the location and the way that Christmas would play out. She called the shots by guilting her children into attending a family gathering that most people didn’t really enjoy. Since my children were very small travelling ridiculous distances and spending Christmas sleeping in a strange bed, in a strange house feeling awkward and not at home has been a big part of the landscape. They tolerated it but since leaving school and becoming more adult they have become more vocal about out it.
My niece and nephews were a little ahead of the field informing their parents that they were not up for travelling anywhere this Christmas and they just wanted to stay home. And so for the first time in a long time we are Christmassing like a lot of people. Visiting for lunch and then leaving to go home to our own house where we will host a small evening meal. For the first time we will see most of both sides of our family on Christmas Day and there will be no sleeping in weird beds or having unwelcome and demanding house guests!
I am excited! Yes it isn’t what my parents want but honestly they can go jump off a cliff. Last year I posted about them being elderly and isolated and I had a feeling of responsibility to them. Last year I did the journey and survived the three or so days of Christmas Hell. And after Christmas Day there was an altercation with my mother that drove home to me that I had given her far too much power in our relationship. It doesn’t matter that she is older and living in a place where she has limited support from able bodied people and very limited health care. She chose that life. She is an adult and she still has all of her mental capacity. She can make changes if she chooses. Throughout the year I have quietly pointed this out to her.
From now on Christmas is about me, Mr Jones, #1Son and The Unicorn; along with their partners. Where and how we celebrate Christmas is dictated by their work commitments. In line with most things in our family it is fairly low key. We have a tree in the corner and have been busily making things as gifts for family members. There are not a lot of other decorations around the house but that is OK. There is ham in the fridge and prawns in the freezer. Things that are essential for Christmas in our house. We are all happy.
I am surprised by the number of parcels under our tree but it is a good thing. I am looking forward to opening them and watching others open theirs. For the first time in a long time I am excited by Christmas. I am hoping that this is a sign of things to come. Low key, relaxed Christmas with people I actually want to see.