thanks for nothing
In typical fashion, my divorced-and-remarried parents are complicating my life again by inviting me to separate Thanksgiving dinners. This has been going on since I was a kid. Back then, I had no choice in the matter. I’d spend a few hours at my mom’s. Then, I’d be wrapped up in a coat for my dad to pick me up and take me to his house. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Mom and dad. I also know I’m nowhere near alone in having had a childhood like this.
This year there’s a new twist. Neither of them approve of my new boyfriend, and while they didn’t come out and say it, it’s clear he’s not really welcome. They think he’s a slacker, and they’d be relieved if I found somebody with a good job and more money. But my boyfriend is really smart, and he’s always there for me. Plus, I love him. That’s why we moved in together. He’s just in-between jobs like millions of young people today. Still, he’s always picking up side gigs, and we do whatever we can to pay the rent.
So what am I supposed to do? Bring him to both my parents’ houses? I can picture them being civil, but icy. We’re welcome at his parents’ house, and they’re very nice to me. They’re happy because we’re happy together.
It’s like I’m paralyzed. I can’t commit to any of them. I’ve never missed a Thanksgiving with my parents, but I’m wondering if this should be the year. The whole thing makes me sad, and I don’t know what to do. Help.
The Passive Aggressor says: Well, you should clearly play your parents off each other. Go to whomever’s house will be more accepting of your new boyfriend. Call your Dad and let him know that mom loves and approves of your new significant other. Then do the same thing to Momma. They’ll love your boyfriend to win your love.
The Gay Perspective: Your parents don’t like your partner? Oh, please. Don’t subject your boyfriend to this. Your parents are obviously not good role models for how to maintain meaningful loving relationships. Isn’t it sad, the way heterosexual people continually diminish the sanctity of family and marriage? As I said to my parents when, early in my decades long relationship, they made it clear that a particular invitation was being extended to me alone, “Oh, gee. In that case, thanks, but we’ll be doing something else—together.” (They quickly came around, and today my partner is a valued member of the family.) Stop being a pawn in your parents’ tediously manipulative domestic dramas. Tell them that you’re going to your boyfriends’ parents’ home for Thanksgiving—and then tell them exactly why. They deserve an explanation—in more ways than one.
The Straight Skinny: Grin and bear it, Sunshine: The holidays are all about misery in the company of one’s family. They’re about barely restrained anger and unspoken disapproval. They’re about the central but somehow heretical fact that our family bonds are neither sacred nor strong. “Blood may be thicker than water,” Great Uncle Mike used to say, “but nobody’s thicker than than your goddamn Uncle Greg.”
so many relatives, so little time
My husband and I have a lot of family obligations this holiday season. Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day all seem to present the same problem: Both of our families want us to be present for all three days.
We would love to be able to do that, but it would be a lot of driving and really cut down on the family time. Judging from past holidays, we end up tired and frazzled.
Any ideas on how to split up the holidays between our families in a fair manner?
The Gay Perspective: Invite them to your house for one of the holidays and see how they handle it. And before New Year’s Eve comes up, plan to be out of town.
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