We Are Who We Are

I’m feeling less grouchy this morning, but man, that’s a rough day. Too much sugar, too much stress, too much of people’s expectations that I’m going to cheerfully make a bunch of food and stand around in the kitchen and wait to meet their demands.

But mostly, in my family, it’s about working so hard to find presents for people only to get to hear all the ways the presents have slightly disappointed them.

Or to hear how they will have to hide the presents, because, if someone were to ask them for said present, of course they would give it to them.

Yeah, no shit.

My parents even told one of their friends, who I don’t know, and who I’ve never met, that they would get her one of my afghans. Their plan is to just root through my closet and give her one of my “extra” ones.

The only two afghans I can think of in my closet right now (and I have zero desire to go look) are the afghan I made my grandma that she died in and a wool afghan that the Butcher stuck in the dryer and I can’t figure out if there’s a way to salvage it, but, since I hand-dyed it, I hate to throw it out. Neither of which I will give away.

If there’s some other afghan in there, at one level, fine. I might even be a tiny bit impressed and flattered that they think something I do might be a treat for someone else.

But holy shit.

Who does this? I genuinely don’t think that my parents know how to understand me as a person in my own right. Because I’m a woman and because I’m not married, I’m this defective support system that might be put to use whenever they want.

Anyway, my dad liked his afghan. Both because he genuinely liked it and because I think he knew if he hadn’t, I would have motherfucking quit this family.

But he never tells you what he wants for any holiday and then he loves to sulk when you don’t end up getting him something he likes and he always makes this big production out of how your failure to get him something he likes proves that you don’t really care about him, because you’re not paying attention to him.

So, as you can imagine, it makes buying presents for him suck. It becomes this terrible, fraught thing where your goal is to get him something he likes and his goal is to prove to himself and you that you don’t really love him.

He’s been halfway talking about getting a ukulele for a couple of years. Mom and I found a cheap, but okay, one for him, figuring that, when he hated it, it wouldn’t sting that bad because it was just $30.

But Jesus Christ! He liked it at first! But then, after he got it tuned and strummed it a little, he announced that he refused to play it because he couldn’t get a clear sound on it because the neck was so small and we should have known to get him a bigger one. And he had this look on his face… like I can’t even explain it. Like he was pleased and relieved to find that the present he, for a second, enjoyed, really sucked. And I wanted to beat him to death with the turkey.

It took every ounce of myself to just tell him he could exchange it then for one he liked.

But, you know, it made his day. He got exactly what he wanted.

So, I guess that’s good.


2 thoughts on “We Are Who We Are

  1. :( :( :( I’m so sorry that your family continues to be hurtful. And of course it’s easy for me, an internet stranger, to start thinking of fantasy scenarios where if You Just Told Them This One Thing or Did This One Thing it would be fixed, but people don’t fix, most of the time. So you have to decide “put up with them because I love them even though they hurt me” or “cut ties” neither of which feels good. I’m glad you have your friends and your work and your stories.

    I hope the promising-random-people-afghans thing can quietly die because there aren’t any to give and no-one can actually force you to make one for them. It’s possible that person doesn’t even want one. I can almost get into your mom’s headspace there, a sort of anxious desire to show you off/impress and kiss up to someone using your abilities. Making you into a sort of social capital. Not really about you but about her relationship with that person. I’ve felt that impulse sometimes with my spouse, who’s an artist, a desire to get someone to like me and him more by volunteering *him* to create or perform something for them. But I pull myself up because it’s from the part of me I don’t like to listen to, that craves approval in any way I can get it, and also it’s just wrong and unfair to do.

    I’m glad the holidays are over soon, because all that love and joy sure comes with some baggage and I could use a break.

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