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26 December 2012 @ 12:41 am
Now that it's no longer Christmas here  
I need to whine. And I'm sorry in advance.

Here's the situation. I live with my eldest sister, F. Our parents are deceased. For various reasons, we are not close to any of our other relatives so it's really just me, sister F, and our third sister R. R lives in a different state, an 8 drive from here. She isn't married and spends all of the major holidays at our house.

Generally this is fine. But this year? Not so much. F and I are very much alike. We have many of the same characteristics, the same outlook, the same zen - if you will. R is very much not like us. Her sensibilities are not ours. Her outlook is not the same as ours. And when she's in our house? I don't feel at home here.

It hurts me to say it but it's true. When she's here, I feel like a stranger in my own house. You know how some people can take over whatever space they occupy? That's her. I'm sure she doesn't do it on purpose. Honestly, it's as though she doesn't know any better. She doesn't like the music we listen to, she doesn't like the movies we watch, she doesn't like the TV shows we enjoy. And because when she's here, she doesn't think of herself as a "guest," she informs us that our choices are not the ones she would prefer we make.

I know what some of you must be thinking - tell her. Reassert control. Well, I am confrontational averse. And it's only a week. Is it worth making her miserable, or worse making her feel unwelcome? I can't do it.

Tonight I told F how I felt and had a complete meltdown. And I know it's not all about R being here. I know that. But.... but I'm angry and I hate being this angry.

F and I got her a couple of small gifts which we didn't give her today. I wasn't going to be all Christmas Cheer when I was already this angry. And F never suggested we give them to her so we never did. Then F asked me why I hadn't given R the gifts. I thought it was a group decision but felt guilty because F was waiting for me to take care of it.

On top of it all, R didn't bring us any gifts. Yes, we're adults and Christmas presents are really for children. But do you have any idea how hurtful it can be not to have any presents to open on Christmas? And to put this into perspective, a year and a half a go, I was in the hospital with food poisoning for a week. Half way through my hospitalization was my birthday. Did R send me flowers or a card or some balloons? No she did not. So my anger is long simmering and... upsetting even to me.

And I am not so materialistic that I think I deserve presents or that Christmas is only about getting gifts. But if it's true that it's the thought that counts, then clearly she never spares us a second thought. And I think that's the most hurtful part of all.

I'll get over this anger and this hurt. But next year I just may spend Christmas in Hawaii. Drinking heavily. You're welcome to join me.

mazaher on December 26th, 2012 06:49 am (UTC)
Watch your dogs. How do they react to her? They're probably on the right track.
I'm sure by next year you and F can come up with a better solution, one that will get rid of repressed anger (which doesn't help anybody).
This time, just hold on: it won't be long now. Hugs.
Are 6 dogs too many?tkeylasunset on December 26th, 2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
At first the dogs are skittish but then get used to her. For the most part, they accept her like part of the pack. She's good with them except she hates to get dirty. Which, you know, dogs.

I think F and I are going to discuss how to handle next year. Now that I've admitted how I feel to her, we can probably figure out what to do to make it better for all of us.

Thank you for the insight!

J.the_physicist on December 26th, 2012 09:36 am (UTC)
It's difficult when there different expectations and outlooks abd they clash. With her being family though it's... more odd. If you generally get her gifts, for example, I mean... she knows your idea of x-mas includes some small gifts of some sort and you'd think that if she doesn't want to give any/can't afford to, that she'd phone a month or two in advance to say that she won't be doing gifts this year.

So much can be bad communication though that I would still suggest talking to her at some point. I know I misjudged my mother for instance. We had an argument the other day, but it was for the best. She thought XYZ didn't need to be said, that it was obvious, but well... it was anything but obvious to me given some of the things she was doing and saying instead. No way to get an apology from some people of course, but at least I know a bit better what she's thinking and she's made more of an effort with me, even if minimal. But umyeah, go with you instincts here... I also know some people love drama... Blergh.
Are 6 dogs too many?tkeylasunset on December 26th, 2012 02:39 pm (UTC)
Yes - it's about expectations and outlooks. You are 100% correct about that.

She can afford gifts. She also suffers paralysis through analysis. She's so afraid of making a mistake, she can't make a decision. And I get that. It's one of the reasons I feel so guilty about being angry.

I think you are right - communication has got to be the key. At the risk of ruining today, I think I'm going to be the one that has to start the conversation. F is much more laid-back about it all and won't take it on.

Thank you for the encouragement. It really does help to know it's not just me!
J.the_physicist on December 26th, 2012 03:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, maybe let her know somehow that even the wrong gift or gesture (as this is about other situations too) is better than none as far as you are concerned. Maybe because people don't say anything when she does nothing/brings nothing she falsely thinks that's safer.
--♫ Anna--: daffodilsrocsfan on December 26th, 2012 01:35 pm (UTC)
For some people, gifts are an expression of love. It sounds as if you are one of those people. You show love by giving gifts of any kind, and you feel love when someone gives one, regardless of size. There's nothing wrong with that! It's just how you're made! That makes you a lovely person who makes the world a lovely place! It's understandable that you would feel as you do about the hospital and Christmas this year!!

Like you, I wouldn't want to say anything. Can you just acknowledge that she doesn't like the show but keep watching anyway? Just a calm, "we'll, we do Ike it"? Or come back here & keep venting for the week! We're here for you! </p>


Are 6 dogs too many?tkeylasunset on December 26th, 2012 02:41 pm (UTC)
For some people, gifts are an expression of love. That is exactly it! Thank you for articulating it when I couldn't.

I honestly don't know why this Christmas is harder than previous ones have been. But this too shall pass. And life will go back to normal soon enough.

Thank you! You kind words mean more than I can express!
bluedelft on December 26th, 2012 05:26 pm (UTC)
You put into words what I was thinking about gifts!

For me it really is the thought that counts and the gift is the end product of that, if that makes any sense. I know I have so much fun going out and buying the gifts, or making them, and seeing the reaction of the receiver is part of the fun.
Are 6 dogs too many?tkeylasunset on December 27th, 2012 01:43 am (UTC)
That's precisely how I feel too. I love giving gifts almost more than receiving them. But when you can't expect to receive them, you don't know whether or not to give them. It's just all too complicated.

I'm much better about it today. Posting here helped so much!!!
Kathy: SV/Chloe/Thoughtfulkitmerlot1213 on December 26th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I think you need to sit down with your sisters and hash this all out. There doesn't need to be an angry confrontation--just a meeting to discuss how to handle the next holiday. Like maybe suggest a Pollyanna gift exchange. And it is you and your sister's house so you can set the rules that your other sister can watch her shows one night and the next night, you get to watch yours.

You would feel tons better if you talked it out--letting it fester will only make you more unhappy.

Are 6 dogs too many?tkeylasunset on December 26th, 2012 02:42 pm (UTC)
I think it's going to have to come down to a discussion. Feelings will probably be hurt but like you said, it's better than letting anger fester. I'm just so bad at anything that feels like confrontation.

Maybe over dinner, I can manage to bring it up in a calm, rational way.

Thank you for the good suggestions!!
Umai Hoshi: Lip Bite (KU)fairyniamh on December 26th, 2012 03:03 pm (UTC)
Where sitting and not letting your emotions out is a simple solution... it also sets things up for potential disaster.

Peace is important... but not at the expense of your sanity and your feelings. You need to be calm and try talking to her and explaining your feelings. Otherwise you will wind up with a large rift that no one will be able to repair.

The presents are not childish. It is proof that you have been thought of... even if the gift is cheesy, ugly, or a buck.

Good luck and know we are here for you no matter what you decide. *hugs*
Are 6 dogs too many?tkeylasunset on December 27th, 2012 01:45 am (UTC)
Yes, it is the thought - that you are in their thoughts.

I'm feeling better today. Sister F said we can talk about it but I still haven't worked up the nerve. I'm thinking that if we go out to dinner, we could do it there. Then there couldn't be any yelling!

I'll keep y'all posted. Thanks for the kind words!
bluedelft on December 26th, 2012 05:34 pm (UTC)
Whine away.....that's what friends are for, to be there in the good times and the bad times.


From reading the comments looks like others have mentioned some of the same things I was thinking. Talking to your sister R just might help and now that sister F knows how you feel should also help out.

You should never feel like you're not at home in your own home. Even though she is your sister she is still a guest there and making herself at home and taking over are two different things for me. I know when I visit my Aunt and my cousin I feel comfortable but I would never dream of telling them that they are doing something wrong or that a show they are watching I didn't like. With family it always puts a different spin on things.

Presents are a part of Christmas if you're a child or an adult. It makes sense that you would think she would bring presents with her.

Are 6 dogs too many?tkeylasunset on December 27th, 2012 01:47 am (UTC)
I'm glad R feels at home here. But there are still societal norms that should be followed. She doesn't really get that. At least she doesn't yell at the dogs like she used to.

I'm glad that missing presents doesn't make me sound childish or materialistic. It really is about knowing you were in that person's thoughts. That's what it comes down to.

Thank you for the warm thoughts. And for being here, no matter what!!

Lizet Elaine: Hawaii Five 0::Danny & Steve::hugsimplyn2deep on December 26th, 2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
I can totally understand that feeling!

By the time I move back to my place, I will have spent 2 months (give or take some days) with my sister and her kids. It's the longest that I've spent with them ever and the longest I've spent with my sister in 22 years (back before she got married). I will take living with my parents ANY DAY over living with my sister and her kids because at least with my parents, I can close myself in my room...at my sister's it was deal with it or spend time at the office and without a car the a 3 hour round trip bus ride.

But anyways, you are loved and there are LOADS of people who appreciate you (and I'm one of them)!

I'll get over this anger and this hurt. But next year I just may spend Christmas in Hawaii. Drinking heavily. You're welcome to join me.

I'll be there!
Are 6 dogs too many?tkeylasunset on December 27th, 2012 01:48 am (UTC)
Christmas 2013 - Hawaii!!!

I can't imagine how you've managed to live with your sister this long. It's very very hard to be displaced. I'm glad your parents will be back soon!

(((hugs))) and thank you!!
Azziria: xmas3azziria on December 28th, 2012 07:04 am (UTC)
I've been meaning to post and tell you how much you have my sympathy - you could be writing about me and my mother this Christmas (and every other time she comes to stay). It's as though for some reason she feels that she doesn't have to treat me with the same respect and consideration as she would a friend of hers. Winds me up no end! So I feel for you :(

My therapist gave me a little technique to help cope with those moments when she's giving her unsolicited opinion on things (such as my choice of TV shows). She told me to sing Jingle Bells (or any other happy little ditty) in my head while pretending to listen - that way I don't look rude and as if I'm ignoring her, but I'm still distancing myself from what's being said. It did help some :)

As for the gifts, someone else here has already mentioned the different styles of showing love thing, and it's worth thinking about - and communicating if it bothers you so much, because I'm sure R doesn't mean to upset you so much (and if she does, then she deserves whatever she gets!). D and I go through this one every now and then - for him, showing love is by surprise gifts, ones that demonstrate that you've thought about the other person. For me, it's about *asking* the other person what they want so that you can show you've really addressed their needs and *listened* to them. We don't match on this, and never will, but at least by talking about it we can understand what the other intends.


Families, eh? What would we do without them... ;)

Very tempted by the whole Hawaii thing next Christmas, too...
Are 6 dogs too many?: Group Hugtkeylasunset on December 29th, 2012 03:23 pm (UTC)
I love the idea of singing Jingle Bells in my head. That could actually help reduce the amount of stress I put on myself!

Yeah, families. What are you going to do? You can't live with them. You can't kill them! ;-)

Thank you so much for the understanding. It's reassuring to know it's not just me!!!

Hawaii 2013! I'm telling you. That's the way to go!

a geek in such the wrong way: H50-steve & chin-hughaldoor on December 29th, 2012 06:36 am (UTC)
*hugs* Your anger and misery are entirely justified. I can't say what the answer is, but at least you only have to deal with R a few times a year. I hope you get past this in whatever way you can. *more hugs*
Are 6 dogs too many?tkeylasunset on December 29th, 2012 03:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you! My hurt feelings are still there but not so close to the surface that I can't deal with them in a rational way. At least I don't feel like crying all the time now!

Thank you for the support. It really does help!

minou_demimondeminou_demimonde on January 1st, 2013 04:52 am (UTC)
Hey, angel. It's ok.
The truth is that Christmas brings out either the best or the worst in people. Family included. Or maybe even family most of all.

And you're wrong, Christmas presents are important, they're not just for kids. Not that they have to be material. Christmas gifts can be as simple as a hug and kiss from your sister or best friend. They can be a phone call from somebody you love.

The fact that your sisters haven't cottoned on to this is sad. But you have to realize something: not all members of a family are born to the same parents. Sometimes your real family is a long ways away from your biological family.

My baby girl and I live with my older sister too. We have 4 brothers we adore, but don't understand a great deal. So, while we visit them, and talk to them, we don't keep Christmas with them.

So let's have a do-over. I have a Christmas gift just for you. Just give me until tomorrow to finish it. I was going to upload it to AO3, but I think I shall just give it to you. Your pressie. Now does that sound?