Thursday, December 30, 2010

Family Drama For Christmas

How was your Christmas? What are your plans for New Years or, if you're reading this later, what did you do?

Our Christmas was generally good, spent with most of our immediate family on both sides.

The current plan for New Year's Eve is to go over to the home of my in-laws, which is in the same city. We got that call inviting us over yesterday. This is significant because we still haven’t exchanged Christmas presents. The reason we haven't is the same reason we can't ever count on my in-laws to watch our kids.

Christmas morning, my wife woke up before the kids and before me, despite having been up late getting things ready and not getting enough sleep. The plan was to go over to the in-laws' house after the kids opened their presents to have brunch and exchange gifts with my wife's parents and siblings. However, one of her sisters called to let her know that the Christmas Eve dinner over there (which everyone knew we were going to miss because we were with my family of origin) didn't go well. So we invited everyone over to our place, at least those who were sober and not getting belligerent on the phone.

As the story goes, everyone except us was over at the in-law house for Christmas Eve dinner and family time. My married sister-in-law and her husband had called it a night and took their kid with them, as they could see the drinking was getting out of hand again. That left behind my wife's parents, the brother who lives there, and the brother and sister who are joined at the hip and live together about an hour or more away. These last two were planning on spending the night there.

MIL wanted to play table games. The visiting brother and sister agreed to play games (instead of calling it a night) on the condition that there be no further drinking that evening. FIL, MIL, and the resident BIL objected. The drunken BIL got nasty with his language towards his sister, nearly resulting in a fight between him and his brother. The visiting brother and sister left instead of spending the night and crashed at the home of the sister who had already left. My melodramatic, drunk in-laws reset the locks on the house to make sure those who had left could not get back in.

The next morning (Christmas), they were still drinking.

So we didn’t go over there.

I'm still coming to grips with this alcoholism dynamic. My dad would drink wine after work every night... no problem. My older sister had her wild phase, but clearly wasn't an addict. And unlike how it often gets portrayed in media, there can be long stretches where drinking isn't a problem during our visits. But clearly it IS a problem. Sometimes it ruins a normal night. Sometimes it ruins holidays and special events.

I made sure to thank my dad the other day for being a responsible drinker rather than a drunk. My mother rarely drinks.

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