January 6, 2021

the not-exactly family Christmas drama

On Christmas the kids were surprised by their stickers. Well done, Santa. I told them I had additional stickers stashed away. Trades were possible. I also informed them that I ordered a bunch of stickers that we'd later deliver to my local siblings and their cousins. 

One of Curly's favorite stickers.
She hears this often, even when
she isn't wearing a wig.

Once everything was opened and wrapping paper still littered the floor, they were like LET'S SEE THE OTHER STICKERS. I patted myself on the back for this 'big hit' (and yes, SO economical) gift. 

I got the extras and we shuffled through them and allocated them: 'SACRACASM IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE' - Pat. Fiddle - Aunt Leprechaun. An abundance of Notre Dame ones and other Star Wars ones for the kids' cousins and my sibs. Ann - Ed Sheerin sticker. She's obsessed. 

Coach came to my folks' house to deliver their gifts, but we dropped him home before we headed to Ann, Mike, and Pat's houses. 

My Milwaukee sis, Marie, texted me to say that they enjoyed the stickers I mailed to Wisconsin. Remember, she got young Rob Lowe on a sticker? 

Marie:  How did you make them?

Me:  Huh? Have we met? I ordered them. 

Mike's wife wondered the same thing. If only I was that crafty and was posing a threat to Red Bubble. 

My dad liked the books that I got him - straight off of his list. 

My mom's response to the gel mat for her kitchen floor:  Oh, can this go next to my car? Ever since we did the epoxy on the garage floor this summer, I'm afraid that it will be slippery if it gets wet. 

*Note: my folks' garage floor was already spotless, ready-to-be licked if Reg felt so inclined. But they made it EVEN more spiffy with epoxy. 

Me:  Um, I'm not sure if it's made for outdoor use. If you want, we can return it and I can get you something from Weather Tech for your garage.

Coach asked her to try the mat for its intended purpose before she decided anything. In other words, he told my mom to get in the kitchen and start baking some damn cookies. (recently she admitted that she's worried that she or my dad will trip on it. I've gotta drag that thing back to the store).

Off I went with the youngest 4 to Ann's house. She didn't answer. We were about to leave. Hey, it was 20 degrees out so we weren't cold or anything.

Finally, she answered and was surprised to see us. Said she was busy on a zoom call doing trivia. 

Me:  Oh, are you doing trivia with your kids?

Ann:  No. The McIrish side. (my side)

Me:  Huh? We didn't know about it. 

Ann:  Marie's daughter set it up (shrug). Curly what did you do to your hair. (insert unflattering voice here)

Curly:  Oh, I just put it up in a clip today.

Ann:  But it's different. What did you DO to it?

Apparently Ann didn't pick up on my facial expressions that were screaming:  STOP! THIS IS WHAT HER HAIR IS LIKE. IT'S VERY FRIZZY AND FLUFFY. THANKS FOR NOTICING. Read the room, Ann - or in this case the front porch. 

Sheesh. Curly stood their patting her hair down as a self-confident reflex. 

On our way to Pat and Aunt Leprechaun's, we discussed this trivia Zoom that we weren't invited to. Seemed strange, but we thought maybe it was just Marie's family and Ann - who was alone because her kids opted to be with their dad. Marie and Ann:  practically Siamese.

Then Pat admitted that they were Zooming, too. They'd lost the trivia game.

Last stop:  Mike's house. They invited our masked selves inside to see their new pup. On their table:  a laptop Zooming with all of my other siblings. Marie's kids started hollering greetings to us. 

I leaned towards the laptop and said out loud:  Huh, we didn't know anything about this.

Then we finished our quick visit with Mike and family.

Later in the car:  Witnessing the Zoom made it harder. My kids expressed total disgust that we were clearly the only ones left off of it. Hurt me, fine - but upset my children? I started to cry. The kids were like:  WHO NEEDS THEM. (followed closely by) WHY WOULD THEY LEAVE US OUT?

Mini and I had the same thought. Ann really hasn't spoken to me since I opted not to participate in the gift she was organizing for my dad's birthday in May. Not surprising. A more controlling person doesn't exist. 

Maybe she agreed to Zoom so long as I was left off? Seemed like a stretch, but the rest of the siblings all tip-toe around her. She's never held accountable. I have no patience for that. 

At home, Coach and Ed were shocked but also believed it was possible. They felt bad. Ed was like, but none of their kids are as cool as your kids.

I sniffled my way through my hurt and we had a delicious meal. The girls and Reg made more Christmas cookies, which was more entertaining than I thought possible. Then we watched 'While You Were Sleeping' which wasn't completely embraced. Tank was like a ROMCOM? WHAT?!

Mini's were artistic and Reg joined late. His were hilarious.

The next day, Mini told me that a Milwaukee cousin put a picture of the Zoom on her snapchat. 

Mini:  Why were the Shenanigans not included?

Cousin:  What? No idea. My mom sent out a text.

Mini:  My mom never got it.

Cousin:  Oh NO!

Marie's kids are crazy about my gang. It seemed strange that we would've been left off if her kids were involved. The next day, Marie texted me to say that she felt awful that I never got the text. She pointed out that Mike got her text hours after she sent it. She invited me to Zoom the next day. I texted back and said I didn't get the text and that another Zoom wasn't necessary, but thanks.

I admit that I keep my responses to family group texts to a minimum because I HATE GROUP TEXTS, ESPEICALLY WHEN PEOPLE RESPOND WITH THEIR APPLE PHONE EMOTIONS. THOSE ARRIVE ON MY ANDROID PHONE LIKE A WHOLE NEW TEXT. In other words, group texts with my family cause my phone to ping CONSTATNLY. I wonder if they have nothing better to do than to 'love' or 'laugh at' texts. I usually respond in some way to the initial text though. 

This was the last cookie who looked a little rough around the edges when I discovered him in an otherwise empty bin in the fridge.

Would've been nice if someone explained the missing text message to me when I pointed out that we knew nothing about the Zoom. A trivia game on zoom with my siblings would NOT have enhanced my Christmas in the least. Trust me. 

Not the point though. 

I shared this not-quite drama with my therapist on my birthday. I was kind of like, WHY DIDN'T ANYONE REACH OUT WHEN THE SHENANIGANS DIDN'T SHOW UP ON THE ZOOM? Like not even a cousin reached out to the kids. 

She said that in a normal family that would've probably happened, but my family has too much dysfunction. This cracks me up, because my family firmly believes that our family is perfection. Really? 

Perhaps they should add the definition of dysfunction to their trivia game. On Dec. 26th, we enjoyed hosting Coach's sister's fam and brother's fam. Funny, when I used to drink the Kool-Aid I always preferred to hang with my family. I was still craving their affirmation, interest, etc.  Even though I've moved on, it hurts to be excluded - even though this time it looks accidental. 


ccr in MA said...

Of course you want to be included, it's your family! But even if this was a mistake this time, I just don't like the way they generally treat you. Not that it's any of my business! But I hope you'll do more things you actually enjoy, like with Coach's family, and not the things you think you should like, or they think you should like.

Pat Birnie said...

Oh my goodness Ernie -as I was reading about the zoom trivia and you finding out that all the other families were on the call...well I actually had tears pricking at the back of my eyeballs. And I hear ya’ 100% on ‘hurt me but not my kids’. What a shitty thing to go through even as you were driving house to house to drop off gifts. (Well done on the stickers btw!). I’m glad it was unintentional but still - could someone not have picked up the effin phone to ask where you were?? Unbelievable. I get the issue of group texts when not everyone has iPhones. Of my 4 adult kids one has an Android. I actually stopped sending them a group pics etc as he’d be left out, get it hours later or see all the comments and wonder what we were talking about. That how sensitive we should be about our families!! (I just send group messages by messenger or something they’ll all see). I’m glad you have a therapist to vent this stuff to!

Kari said...

Gah. I am sorry. That had to feel shitty. And for your kids to see you feel that way too. Sending you a hug.

I am glad you have therapy to talk about stuff like this. Therapy is just SO GOOD. I miss mine. Long story. It will be discussed next week. :)

Sending you a big hug.

Beth Cotell said...

I'm sorry there's so much dysfunction in your family. I'm glad the cousins get along though for the most part. Maybe there's hope that the next generation will be better. :)

Kara said...

It sucks that your family sucks. It sucks even more that it hurts your kids.

Stickers are a great gift! My Christmas debacle was minor. I ordered some Red Sox stickers for my husband, and somehow, the delivery got all messed up, and they're expected to be delivered in June. I guess they'll be his Father's Day gift this year.

Suzanne said...

That is so hurtful -- I'm sorry. At best, a negligent oversight. At worst, malicious. Ugh.

Suz said...

I'm SO happy the stickers were a hit. By the way, I went to order some after you shared about them and they wouldn't arrive until January, so I skipped them. Can you remind me next (this) year in early November? Thanks.
Wait, I'll just give you my CC and you can shop for me.

I would have been hurt to to be excluded; accident or NOT, it's hurtful to you and your kids. Hopefully your kids and the cousins will keep a nice healthy relationship even if some of the parents are asshats.


Ernie said...

ccr - I agree with you: they don't treat me great. I think the issue is that I don't always go along with the majority. I speak up when I disagree. I once drank the lemonade but fortunately I've grown out of that. I do enjoy Coach's local siblings so very much and enjoy my time with them, so long as his parents aren't included.

Ernie said...

Pat - Yes, I felt better knowing it was not intentional, but dysfunction or not I still do not get how people answer the door to us and fail to ask why we weren't on the zoom THAT IS HAPPENING IN THE NEXT ROOM. I have complained about the group texts they do, and I suspect that they had their noses out of joint from that. But there is certainly a pattern, remember my brother Mike asking if 2 of my kids could come to the grad party for Alan? Everyone else was invited (minus the sis in Mil). That party ended up being cancelled anyway. I feel like Mike is the most like me and sees things as they are usually, so that stung. So happy to heat that someone else gets the group text thing. My good friend just got an iphone I told her if she reacts to one of my texts with an emotion I will hunt her down.

I did think how extra rude it was that I was showing up at their houses WITH CAREFULLY SELECTED STICKERS FOR THEM. I was so happy that my gang enjoyed their stickers.

Ernie said...

Kari - thanks, yes it did feel shitty. AND IT WAS CHRISTMAS. I think they are all so weird. Remember years ago when Pat and his wife tried to dictate when Mini should quit dancing to focus on her fiddle music (Aunt Leprechaun was her music teacher)? And they told me that Coach needed to get more interested in Irish music? Just imagine what it is like to be in a family with people who think they know everything. It's gross. My sisters are so controlling. I honestly feel like I am the only person who has decided to exhibit personal growth. Yes, the therapist helps. There are layers here though and she is fairly new, since we dumped Chip. Sometimes it's hard to get her caught up This was not really earth shattering, so much other stuff going on that I need her to help with. Sorry you aren't able to meet with your currently.

Ernie said...

Beth - It is mind blowing how many cousins my kids have. Even though I'm of Irish decent, I only had 8 cousins total. 3 in Portland, only met a few times. 2 in Texas saw annually. 3 local that we did a ton with. That's it. 2 of my cousins died young (1 in Texas and 1 local).

My kids see things pretty dang clearly. They find Pat's kids entitled and bratty. Reg is buddies with one of Mike's sons, Alan. They all like Ann's kids, but those kids have struggled because their dad is crazy and their mom needs help - but everyone acts like she is nothing more than a victim. They find 2 or Marie's 5 kids awesome.

On Coach's side - all 18 cousins are considered awesome. I think you could do a science experiment on adults who experienced favoritism as children (my side, but I was NOT a fav) now raising their own kids, and kids (Coach) whose folks were insanely strict but the kids clung to one another for support. Oh, the differences.

Ernie said...

Kara - sometimes I wish my kids didn't know so much, but then I do think my kids have learned a lot about life through their knowledge of how people treat one another. Coach gave a little speech at dinner on Christmas about how we hope they will all be good to one another when they are older.

Stickers in June? WTF? How in the name of all that is good is that even possible? Is someone walking them to your house Forest Gump style?

Ernie said...

Suzanne- Yes, it is pretty rotten. I figure that with people not being in person on Christmas, many more texts were hitting the airwaves. Still, I'll never understand why someone wouldn't say HEY WHERE ARE YOU GUYS?

Ernie said...

Suz - I could do a whole post on just ordering those stickers. I ordered a billion, or close to it. but never bought them. When I went back to my cart they were gone. Re-found them, plus more because it's fun shopping for them, oddly enough. When I went to check out the original order WAS there. Ugh. I was up till 2 am sorting through my order of enough stickers to cure world hunger (if that was a thing). I got some crazy January delivery dates too, but they all arrived on time. You shoulda called me!

And yes, I will shop with your cc anytime you need it. Putting a holiday shopping reminder for Suz in my phone right now.

Marie and Ann's kids have done breakfast outings together the day after Christmas before. My kids found it on snapchat. WTF? But now that more of my kids have phones and more of Ann and Marie's kids appreciate my kids company (now that they are all old enough to contribute to an outing), I think they won't be excluded from cousin stuff again. It really just screams volumes about my sisters that that even happened. Hello, exclusivity.

If I hadn't realized that Marie sent a text that I never got, I was really TRULY ready to cut all ties with them and tell 'em all to kiss my big, white ass! (look at me getting better at embracing my body issues and being prepared to bare my big, white ass). Couldn't resist.

Anonymous said...

I’m kind of speechless. And before you even mentioned the part about hurting your kids that was one of the first things to pop into my mind. I can understand (I mean not REALLY, but...) excluding an adult, although one out of a group of siblings, I don’t get it. But to leave all of the kids out... my grandparents definitely had favorites, and even though I wasn’t one of the favorites, they definitely loved every single one of us and would never have allowed one of us to feel left out of a group event. Your siblings are assholes. Props to you for becoming a better human.
And on that note, I’m off to go browse Red Bubble because I have a ton of birthdays to shop for in February.

Ernie said...

AM - Yes, my siblings are screwed up. Marie (champion of almost attempting a live nativity) worries that she will one day wake up and not be their number one. It's pukey. She tries to please everyone out of fear that it might get back to mom. I used to say shit to my mom about siblings, but I don't even consider that - haven't for years. Pat is a head case, was raised to think what he says is truth. Ann needs help, but everyone putters around affirming her victim status. Raw deal? Yes. Was she massively controlling and judgmental before her divorce from a sick man, yep. Mike, is in like flynn but I still feel like he sees things fairly plain and simple. My folks were not on the zoom. I'm sure Marie told my mom that I was accidentally left off, to cover her butt out of fear of remaining number one, but my mom said nothing to me. AS did NO ONE ELSE.

Dang, Red Bubble should be throwing me some coin. Happy shopping. I found it so entertaining. I got my college guys tapestries for dorm rooms because they won't rip like posters. They were thrilled.

Ally Bean said...

I don't know where you got the stickers, but I like that idea. Years ago I saw Rob Lowe in person in an airport and let me tell you he was GOOD LOOKING. I'm sure the sticker with him on it was perfection.

Your family dynamics are quite involved. I'd say you handle them all well enough. I mean, you can't get people to do what you want them to do in general, and with blood relations it seems even more difficult to get them to play nice. For some reason or another.

Nicole MacPherson said...

I do understand that it was unintentional, I've had a lot of problems with group texts when one is an android. However, your family sounds like a bunch of assholes, I am sorry to say. Has no one ever heard of following up? If I don't hear back from someone, I follow up. It's not hard, ffs.

Charlie said...

Sorry you had to deal with this on Christmas Day Ernie. Definite buzz kill and you are totally right that it’s very weird. Weird how only your text didn’t arrive and weird how nobody asked where you were. That said, it seems like your own family are awesome. The obviously get it and it’s good experience for them when they have their own families in the future. That is the true blessing in life. Your lovely hubby and awesome kids who don’t sound weird at all! So you’ve obviously done something very right, despite the role models in your early life.

Ernie said...

Ally - The stickers are from Red Bubble. Such a fun website. They have everything. I think I am very late to realizing how cool they are, but I discovered them when googling lists of suggested gifts for teen boys. I think.

There are definitely layers here. Years ago Pat and Aunt Leprechaun bought a house down the street from me. I babysat for their daughter who is Mini's age (4 months apart) when Aunt Leprechaun did her residency. I was crushed when they opted to move to a swanky town because our girls wouldn't end up going to the same school. (We ended up moving to a bigger house eventually but same school). I'm now grateful. Certainly something to be said for space. Over the years, I've learned to keep them on a need to know basis. None of them know about Lad's issues, for example. Or other bumps in the road we've experienced. They're a judgmental crowd.

Ernie said...

Nicole - You hit the nail on the head. I think it was unintentional, but it wasn't just a silly text about something they found entertaining on tik tok - it was an invitation to join something on Christmas, so follow up to see that we got the text. I assume the text didn't come through because of the android phone or maybe the fact that a million texts were flying around on a day when people couldn't be together. Most of them are ass holes - either full of themselves because while my parents constantly sneered at me, they were praised to no end, or they are control freaks, or they are kiss asses. I blame the way we were raised. Not sure why I seem to see the situation clearly, but they are in a fog of 'gee aren't we a great, close-knit family.' I'd honestly love to send them these comments.

Ernie said...

Charlie - Yes, it was weird. They are weird. All operating on their own agendas. I do think the text was lost because they all have iphones and I have an android, or because the signals were busy due to it being a holiday when people were not with their families.

We did use it as an example for our kids. We pointed out that we hope they treat each other better than that as adults. I think that having grown up in a house ripe with favoritism (like you could be blind and still see it), I am super, uber sensitive to trying to be fair. I've messed up in other ways, but making everyone feel like what they do is interesting and important to me has been my focus . . . and by the way - it isn't even all that hard.

Bibliomama said...

I like how your therapist didn't go for "so how did that make you feel?" just straight to "yeah, normal families would, but yours is borked, so..." Unfortunately it's always the most dysfunctional people who are certain that they're perfect. Because anyone who thinks they're perfect is almost certainly very very much not. Truly good people tend to question themselves quite a lot, is how I see it. It's nice that your kids know what's up, but it's always going to be hard.

Ernie said...

Ali - You've been a busy reader. I appreciate you getting caught up on my posts. I hadn't thought of it, but yes - I'm also glad that this therapist didn't go the 'how did that make you feel?' route.

She's a new therapist, since the Lad situation. There was a thing that I tried to describe with my sis Marie about a month ago and initially the therapist thought I was taking it the wrong way. Then I laid a few other examples on her about my sister acting like she was Dad's only relative when he was almost killed after being thrown from the horse in Yellowstone, and she was like, OH, I SEE. NEVERMIND. SHE IS TWISTED.

Now that you mention it, I TOTALLY agree - anyone I know who believes they or their family system are perfect are not. At all.

I do think my kids learn a lot from the situation. I think they appreciate that they are heard in our family system. We keep telling them how much it means to us that they will hopefully keep connected.

I enjoyed your use of the word borked. :)