So in my experience there are two types of people around this time of the year: People like Melissa who love the holidays – these people drank the proverbial Kool Aid (or eggnog, I guess) and they’re all about Christmas from Black Friday til New Year’s Day.
Then there’s people like me – I hate everything between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I am admittedly a bit of a Scrooge.
It has a lot to do with my family, though not in the way that many trans* people have to worry about. I know a lot of us see the holidays as a time we’re forced to spend time with a family that doesn’t respect us, our pronouns, our lifestyles or our choices. For me, it’s not about that. The little bit of family that I have left in my life has been wonderfully supportive and respectful, even if they don’t agree with my decisions, and I truly can’t ask for more than that.
For me, Christmas reminds me of how small my family’s become over the years. And not because of death – most of my family is, thankfully, still alive, but because of dysfunction. There are the few expected deaths – my great grandfather, whose name I took for my middle name. My grandfather – I often find myself wondering if he’d accept me as I am the way my grandmother has or if he would have been able to convince her to come to my wedding. But those don’t really hurt. Death is part of life and while I miss them and the memory of them, I know that they’re not gone because they chose not to be a part of my life anymore.
Now don’t get me wrong – I still have a lot of friends and family in my life that have stood by me no matter what and I love and appreciate them deeply. But the holidays remind me of all the people that aren’t around anymore.
I grew up with a pair of cousins – one a little bit older and one a little bit younger. All told between my younger brother and the cousins, we spanned 4 years and we were all very close. As we grew up, we all developed vastly different personalities and eventually I lost contact with them, and their parents, primarily due to religion. My aunt and uncle removed me on Facebook around this time last year, when I came out as trans publicly.
My mom’s been missing for 4 years. Like missing person’s report, left without saying goodbye, don’t know if she’s dead missing. It took me most of that 4 years to realize that it wasn’t my fault that she left. The rest of it has been spent wondering if she’ll come back, if she ever thinks of me, and if she’d even recognize me if she saw me.
My dad’s remarried and has always been a fair bit more interested in his wife’s family than his own. I just recently found out that his wife spent my entire wedding muttering under her breath about how she couldn’t believe she was witnessing this and she can’t believe I’m doing this to my father. I can only assume based on previous comments that she’d prefer I be a good girl and marry a good Christian boy and raise good Christian babies.
My younger brother is serving overseas right now. I worry about him every moment of every day and I do everything that I can to be a good friend to his now ex-wife. The most frightening part of this is that his son has started looking up to me as one of the men in his life – a bit of a father figure. I love that boy more than life itself, but I don’t think I’m ready to be a father figure. My friends have assured me that I’m a great role model, but I think looking back at the mistakes I’ve made and the struggles it’s caused me, it’s hard for me to feel like I should be someone he should try to be like.
So we went from Thanksgiving meals with 20+ people all gathered around, loud and noisy and crazy to me jumping from place to place to try to squeeze in time for all the people that used to get together. Christmas Day used to be a revolving door of visitors and leaving to see people who couldn’t get out. Now it’s just roomful of people. It doesn’t feel the same. Maybe that’s part of growing up and getting jaded – the magic of Christmas fades a little as you realize that you have to make the magic.
I’ve been trying harder to get more into the Christmas spirit this year. Melissa will likely tell you I failed miserably. I’ll try some more next year. Truthfully, Melissa’s family Christmas Eve dinner at her aunt, while I once dreaded it, has become the highlight of my holiday for the time being.
Until next time,