My friend/manager returned to work today after being on leave since Christmas eve. Her reply when I asked how her break was:

"I told my family that I was happy to return to work, because I would be among normal people again."

That summed up her vacation time. I empathised with her discussion of Christmas day which on balance will be remembered by her and I for some frustration, a temper tantrum and some ill will (though mine was minus the ill will...I think?).

My Christmas Day did involve a temper tantrum, mine. Whenever I have been asked about how my Christmas and vacation was, I have avoided saying much more than:

"Nice, it was fine, busy."

The reality was not so pleasant. Let me say at the outset my friend and I agreed the high points of Christmas day as it should, went to the children. They were no trouble. Elliot was suitably impressed with Santa Clause's ability to deliver. Gabriella oblivious to the event and spectacle happy as usual.

The actual temper tantrum, was from me, and arose from an incident which I refer to as the:


It resulted in my calling him:

"An idiot"

Horrible, yes indeed, I regretted it as soon as the words were out of my mouth and although I apologised to him, repeatedly, he steadfastly refused to accept my apology. I tried to explain that it wasn't just about the notcuttingthesushifastenough (so my mother ended up eating the salted sushi and not the special unsalted sushi I had gone to the trouble of making) but was a product of the build-up of tension from the week preceding Christmas day. That was still not good enough for him. And I agree it is inexcusable to say horrible things to your partner and expect to get away with it.

Though in times involving family stress if you can't have the occasional blow-up and your partner take the heat then who is going to wear it from you? Is it better that it was him or should everyone have been witness and subject to my appalling behaviour? I know I should know better, but I am afraid I am human and my behaviour not always exemplary.

I spoke to another good friend of mine, V last week and again discussed Christmas and family issues and I remarked to her how frustrated I was with my family during this period. She told me that everyone was in the same boat and her husband's family were aggravating too. She also mentioned the "tension" at their Christmas event with her husband on edge and he taking some of his frustration out on her. I said that I thought it was far worse when it is your OWN family that you have the complaints about.

One point of V's tension involved the giving by her and her husband of ethical christmas gifts to her husband's family rather than the buying of presents. For example, a person would be given a card which indicated that monies had been donated by V and partner for the purchase of a goat for X family in X third world country. She had asked for our (being the girl friends) opinion on the ethical gifts a few weeks earlier. We agreed that the gifts were certainly in keeping with the spirit of giving however, we cautioned that all of her "in-laws" might not see it that way.

Which as it turned out was true, though only from one person, who ironically was the person who gave them a gift of a Bible for Christmas and had previously suffered from a Jesus complex. See you can't please them all.

The cause of my words with P didn't happen because of failure to cut sushi quickly, it stemmed from interactions between my mother and her older invalid sister whom my mother is the full-time carer of (at the expense of her own health) and the interactions between my mother and my sister and my mother and her two other sisters.

It should come as no surprise that at the conclusion of my mother's visit she declared to me:

"I am never returning to Brisbane ever again."

This was because of some bad feelings which arose between my mother and my sister and the position that my mother resolved to take towards her sisters in terms of their inability to show interest in being involved in the part-time care of their elder sister in order to occasionally relieve my mother.

Last weekend I was totally over the entire mess, emotionally fatigued having lived through it and discussed it all several times already. Only now am I actually ready to write about it.

Many of the issues are quite petty really, particularly the ones involving my mother and my sister. Though the issues involving the care of my mother's sister not so. That situation seems currently unsolvable and I had to endure much complaining from my mother over the last 3 weeks about the situation over the last 4 years, concerning how little assistance she receives from her sister's in regards to their sister's care and giving my mother an opportunity for a break now and again. Anything that I suggested to help resolve the problem was dismissed by my mother including my wanting to speak to my mother's sister about her being more willing to accept assistance from outside agencies when my mother wanted a break. My mother did not want me to discuss it with her sister. It seems my mother really only wants to talk complain about it endlessly instead.

I didn't think I was going to post all this negative stuff about Christmas and family and vacations. But sometimes vacation time just isn't all golden beaches, blue skies and water and tinsel and trim and turkey etc. Though the food was just about only one of the best things about that day - that went very well.

Sometimes it's about many different personalities who at the end of a challenging year get together and those great expectations meet reality.

Perhaps it was tempting fate that I had lampooned the David Jones and Myer catalogues version of the perfect Christmas only weeks before. Several gorgeous men with perfect smiles wearing designer clothing and several perfectly groomed women and the children. I joked with my colleagues at the time as to whether anyone they knew was having a "David Jones catalogue style Christmas" and nobody said they were - do they exist?


At 6:42 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

christmas can be SO stressful, and it's usually exactly at times like these that other important family issues rear their heads. don't berate yrself too much for snapping at P - after all, like you said, if you can't take yr frustrations out on yr husband, then who? (and i always thought that was part of the job description of 'husband' - must be willing to take all expressions of frustration and rage with good grace : ) )

i'm sure P understands that you don't actually think that he is an idiot, but were merely acting out of frustration and stress.

i hope you find some way to resolve some of the family issues that have been raised. caring for elderly family members is something that everyone must do and take responsibility for, but so often it tends to be conveniently overlooked or not discussed, or taken for granted that someone else will do it. it's stressful for everyone involved.

At 6:43 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i forgot to sign my name on the last post!!
it was me - kitschenette.

At 6:49 am, Blogger Lushlife said...

I thought it was you K I recognised your writing :o)
I have to admit in that split second that I said it to P I had thought it and immediately regretted that I had engaged my mouth instead of putting my brain into gear - big mistake, big mistake. Every thought is not supposed to be uttered.

At 7:51 pm, Blogger OLS said...

It sounds like your mother is a little like my grandmother. My Grandma complains of being lonely, but she doesn't want to do anything where she could meet people and make friends. We eventually reached the conclusion in my family that she doesn't like anyone to actually resove her problems, she just wants to complain about them. So none of us take her seriously anymore... ;o)


At 4:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your right OLS I figured that out by the end of the first week of the visit - she wasn't looking for solutions just an ear to bend endlessly. I find that my approach which is probably due to my training as a lawyer is that if someone has a problem I like to find ways to solve it. In the end when I realised she didn't want my help I told her that if she wasn't going to take my advice or let me help then to stop complaining to me! A bit harsh but honestly I was so OVER it.

At 4:24 pm, Blogger Jellyfish said...

It's brave of you to post so honestly about all this... I realise I'm commenting well after the fact, but I would say, don't beat yourself up too much over it... My poor mum always spends Christmas in a state of high anxiety because of family stuff. It really is a terrible amount of pressure especially on the people doing the cooking and all that. I think everyone snaps and I certainly think those being snapped at should just chalk it up to 'Christmas' and not worry too much :)

At 4:39 pm, Blogger Lushlife said...

Hi Jelly welcome back and I hope you enjoyed the break. I guess I thought I am sometimes not the nicest person in the world and if I kept showing my other face on this journal all the time I think there is this illusion of the perfect life and the perfect family which some people think they have to attain. Helps me to rememeber to try and be a better person and to learn from my mother - I want to resolve things not just complain about them. It was a bit of a surprise for me having these issues over Christmas and hearing about them from my friends too - I am chalking down to an aberration.


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