Festive indecisions

I’ve got a decision to make in the next couple of weeks.

I got a phone call from my aunt yesterday inviting me to celebrate Christmas day with them. I was told that she had already spoken to my sister, and she was going, as was my father. I told her I would let her know shortly.

After the falling out with my sister a couple of months ago I’ve felt little inclination to reach out to her. It’s as if this was the final straw. I wasn’t bitter or angry, merely pragmatic. She’s not going to change; our relationship fundamentally will never alter; and neither of us like the other. For decades I’ve looked past these outbursts of vitriol and bad behaviour on the basis that she’s my sister, we are family. I wasn’t delusional, I understood who she was, but in my mind the blood tie was sufficient to suspend permanent judgement.

Then when she spewed her latest batch of vile insults I instinctively reconsidered. I didn’t sit down to think about it; instead I found my position shifting in the background. I had been more bemused than offended, accustomed to her antics and well beyond her imprecations. One day though I felt myself awake to the fact that I didn’t have to put up with this. She is my sister, but she’s also a nasty piece of work. I had no doubt that the cycle would repeat again and again if I allowed it. She might be my sister, and one of the few remaining members of my family, but I took no pleasure from her company. What point pretending? Why not just cut the tie?

If it was as simple as that it would be done. Complicating that are her children, who I would be barred from seeing. Fortunately I have a relationship with them outside of their mother.

With Christmas coming up I was undecided about what I would do. I wasn’t about to contact her, and if she chose not to get in touch then the decision was made. We would have christmas apart. And if she did? I would assess that when it happened, but as a general rule it would depend how long before Christmas the contact, and invitation, came. I knew regardless of what she felt she would never be contrite.

As is the way of things what seemed a simple formula has been complicated by a third party getting involved.

To be honest I’d probably prefer not to go. It’s an awful long way to travel to be with people who think of me once a year. I’m grateful for the invitation, but well aware that the invitation is made from familial ties and politeness, and my presence one way or another will make little difference to the day. That’s fair enough. They have their lives separate to ours, and their first concern is their own family. It’s just the way it is.

All the same I feel an urge to ‘do the right thing’ – that is, put any quibbles and doubts aside and join in for Christmas. I could care less about my sister, but the there are her kids, and even my father, who has shown signs recently of softening his stance. If I don’t now, what happens later?

There’s a clue in all this. Before we had our bust up my sister was talking about having Christmas at her home. Unspoken in this was the assumption that I would do most of the cooking – she’s a lazy and uninterested cook, and more than happy to push that onto me. It seems to me that if she no longer intends a Christmas at home then it’s likely because she doesn’t see me there doing it for her. Ergo, an invitation wasn’t coming in the mail. Perhaps then that line has been drawn. Fine, but what do I do now?

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