I’ve been hesitant to write this post for awhile now, mostly out of fear. And since it’s always on my mind as the topic I want to be writing about, it’s stopped me from really being able to write much else. Thus the recent lack of posts on my behalf. Then I remembered what my senior year Creative Nonfiction professor told me, and that kind of snapped me out of this. If you’re going to write creative nonfiction, then you have to commit to it. If you lie or embellish things, then your audience will notice it. And similarly, if you leave things out or try to write as a favor to others, then what is the point of writing? So here it goes.
I wanted to talk about the holidays and how now, as a 25 year old, being home for the holidays with my family fucking sucks.
As I get older, the holidays become smaller and more personal. We come closer together, bonding over memories of those who are no longer with us and clinging to one another with an unspoken desperation. In a way, it’s great that my family finally deems us “kids” as ready to be part of the grownup conversation at the dinner table. But the grownup conversation usually differs drastically from my opinions. I have no problem discussing differing opinions — in fact, I love it — but my responses are always met with eye rolls that say, “Oh, she’s so young and naive! She’ll see one day.”
My entire family — cousins, brothers, parents, aunts, uncles, probably the ghosts of family members that are floating through our houses during the holidays — are all registered as Proud Republicans while I’m the lone Democrat (newly registered Green party member actually, which depending on who you talk to in my family, might be a lot worse). I don’t have an issue with all conservatives necessarily, but I do have a problem with the racist, homophobic, close-minded ones that come to my kitchen and drink wine on the holidays. These aren’t the people I grew up; these aren’t the people I have an endless amount of love and respect for.
Except, they are.
Some are worse than others, but for the most part my family has started to embody the characteristics that I find most deplorable in the world. The types of topics that I harbor strong opinions about — women and gay rights, racism, a value behind traveling and coming out of your comfort zone, understanding the difference between journalism and creative writing — are things that my family not only just doesn’t see eye-to-eye with me about, but they flat out refuse to even try. It’s frustrating and leads to me walking away from the dinner table once the conversation turns to the recent news of cops that “did the right thing because they’re cops and cops are right forever and that black man tried to do a bad thing probably maybe” with a little bit “hey, Obama sucks and here’s why I think so” sprinkled on top.
Maybe this is part of growing up. The parents that were invincible, highly intelligent superheroes are our peers now. I’ve gone through a significant amount of struggles that they can relate to, and more upsetting, ones that they can’t relate to at all. I understand that they weren’t all-knowing even if my child mind thought they were. Now I can relate to certain paths they took and that scares the absolute shit out of me.
My family isn’t wrong (ehhhhh…maybe a little actually) and they aren’t bad people — they are simply different from me. At some point in my life I drastically deviated away from the course my parents took, the same course that my brothers and cousins seem to be gliding along. I’m envious of friends who come from more liberal and open-minded families, and I’ve even begun a list of things I didn’t try until college (so far this list consists of hummus, Indian food, traveling outside of the United States, brown rice, and so many other weird things that even surprise me). But unfortunately this deviation leads to me feeling very alone during the holidays now, resorting to simple and gossipy conversation in the hopes that I’ll feel that camaraderie with my family members once again.
I don’t know what I hope to accomplish with this post, but part of me hopes that my parents never see it. Even though they already know that I don’t like their opinions and wish that they would step outside of their comfort zones more often, I feel like reading this might upset them. But again, I’m attempting to write for myself, not for anyone else. The holidays are no longer fun, exciting moments where I get a break from the stresses of real life and can hang out with my favorite people. It’s become a time where I feel completely ostracized from my family, even the ones I felt closest to throughout my life. It uncovers a fear that after 25 years of conversations and experiences together, they don’t actually really know me that well at all.