November 2009 We are making our Christmas plans. Well. Not really. Because our Christmas plans are to do nothing. Go nowhere. Stay home. At last, we are free. We did decide when we married that we would not travel during the holidays. Our families were welcome to visit us. A safe thing to say, given that Primo's parents do not travel. Well, they did travel to our wedding. What a disaster that was. But they do not travel now. Thank goodness. Alas, we are expected to go to them.
We have told my widowed not quite penniless but definitely not awash in cash mom we will fly her here,* but the frozen north in December is not her idea of a good time.
Here is where we plan to be. Primo travels a lot for his job. He wants to be home, not in an airport, in December.
And then he gets the dreaded question. Because we have not yet made the blanket statement to Sly and Doris: We will never again spend a holiday in your house.
"Are you coming for Thanksgiving? Are you coming for Christmas?"
Only Primo says it much more nicely than that. Primo can be tactful. When he wants to be.
Shocked, angry, betrayed silence.
A few days later, he gets an email from Doris. It starts out with a line something like, "I had written another email but decided not to send it."
She continues: "Dad and I will feel abandoned if you don't come for Christmas."
"Oh good grief!" I exclaim.
"Well, they have gotten used to my coming since I separated from Isabel and Nancy died," Primo says.
"You are married now," I say. "Things are different."
He calls. Talks to Sly. Tries to explain. Asks what if my mom made the same demands on our time and attention.
"That's different," Sly snaps. "That Woman's family is not close."
We're "not close?" That's Sly's excuse?
Let's define "close."
Does he mean family who see each other?
Primo has three or four cousins and two aunts. He has seen the cousins and aunts at his uncles' funerals, one last year and one two years ago. Before that, the last time he saw them was in high school. He sees Jack when he visits his parents. Maybe. He sees Ted occasionally, maybe every four or five years.
Primo has seen my mom when we have visited her (twice) and when she has visited us (twice since we married). He has met at least half of my mom's six siblings and both of my dad's brothers. He has not met all of my 24 cousins but has gotten a good start. We stop in the town where a chunk of my family lives when we drive to the cottage in the summer.
We have stayed with my dad's brother and his wife. We have hung out with my cousins A and J many times. We have shot pool with them. We have gone to family reunions. We visited M in the hospital 90 miles away. My uncle has taken us horseback riding. We have had Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle, other dinners at their house. We have visited my sister. Primo visited my grandmother in the nursing home 250 miles away several times. He has met two of my dad's cousins who live here in town.
Or does he mean a family who like each other? Because my family doesn't spend time bad-mouthing the ones who aren't there.** Oh. Did I say that out loud? Yeah, I'm talking to you, Sly, who doesn't have anything good to say about Stephanie, who is very nice, and who has been known to tell Primo that Ted and Jack are a great disappointment to him. What a generous thing for a father to say about his own sons to his other son.
But apparently my family doesn't count because we are not "close." Only Sly and Doris' wishes count; only their holiday desires are important. If my mom demanded that we be at her home for Christmas, it wouldn't matter. Sly and Doris' claim would trump hers because my family isn't "close."
Bad move, Sly. You just strengthened my resolve. If it were up to me, you'd never see your son again.
* We are also not awash in cash, but we do have frequent flyer miles.
** OK, except for my one cousin who licked Primo. We do talk about her. But SHE LICKED PRIMO.