Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Fa La La La La

Friggin' Christmas. I loved it as a kid, love it as an adult, hated it as a kid, hate it as an adult. My parents split up when I was eight. Since then, every holiday has pulled me in more directions than I have to give. Christmas, as always, is the Big One because it's more heavily invested with emotion than the others. When I was little I guess it was comparatively easy, comparatively bipolar, the classic Mom's family vs. Dad's family struggle. Even that was made a bit smoother by the lucky compatibility of those two groups' traditions; Mom's family always did dinner and gifts on Christmas Eve, while Dad's side did the more usual Christmas morning gifts, Christmas afternoon dinner gig. Plus, both families were located in the same small town, which made travel planning easy.

Then I got married. This added a third player to the mix, but, luckily, his family was based several states away, allowing us to alternate years in my home state with years in his. And this was, of course, viewed by all parties as the natural and equitable arrangement.

Things got slightly more complicated when, in the span of about 5 years, several segments of the extended family, including mine, picked up and moved to different parts of Arizona and Colorado.

They got even more complicated when I got divorced, came out, and, a few years later, moved in with my girlfriend and her daughter. More dynamics than you can shake a stick at.

The family units here are arranged more or less geographically, from southern Arizona to northern Arizona and Colorado. Green means a good, no worries relationship. Blue indicates occasional weirdness. Yellow is borderline, and black means, of course, death.

Christmas is "interesting" now because all the parties on the diagram, except my brother, are within an easy four-hour drive of each other. That makes it difficult to avoid traveling someplace because you can't cite an exhausting drive, and since it's Arizona, you can't play the blizzard card either. And since it's my family, you can't suggest that everyone convene in one place because half the folks, as illustrated, may or may not be talking to the other half. This is especially fun when the involved parties are living in the same house (did I forget to put a yellow-and-black line between Dad and his wife? oops).

Me: You better show up, or I will fucking kill you.
My bro: You bringing the bourbon?
Me: Hell yes.
My bro: See you Sunday, then.

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