Another two years go by. I have such a love/hate relationship with the holiday season. Within my own little nuclear family, it's bliss. Christmas at home is wonderful. Not going anywhere is wonderful. The thoughtfulness of my children as they get more and more into gift-giving in our little family is heartwarming.Visiting with my husband's family, who live locally now, is mostly nice.


I'm lonely.

Everywhere I turn, there are people celebrating with extended families. Cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents. And I feel so lost.

There is no big extended family for me. I hate this. I chose it, and I stand by that choice, but this "best" choice still sucks. I want it all. I want the lovely Christmas with my children ANDalso the big hoopla of the extended family AND I want them to be awesome, kind, empathetic, healthy people, and to love me, and to love my kids, and for us to be happy.

That won't happen. Can't happen. But it doesn't stop me from wanting it.

It gets me going down that path of "did I make the right choice?" and "how bad would it be, anyway?"

Really, how bad would it be?

I try to remind myself that holidays with my "one big happy family" were never that happy. They involved marching orders from la madre, everybody held in her thrall, total denial of anybody's desires or comfort except for hers, siblings programmed to think of me as a bitch, ignoring anything I say while laughing at each other's stories, driving home heavy with disgruntlement and hurt. I was no less alone then. It only looked less alone, because I had the big family pictures to show for it. See? We're a happy family! Look at this multi-generational awesomeness!

It's like my favorite Vonnegut book comments: "no damn cat, no damn cradle." It was all an illusion.

My kids have five cousins, but only remember one or two of them. They've never even met one of them. I have no contact with my niece and nephews. I'm estranged from one brother and not at all close to two others. That sense of family ties, family tradition? It's all snarled up.

How do I rewrite my mind to accept that the five of us - me, my husband, our three sons - are enough? That this small, genuine celebration is better than the large, fake one? It's really nice not to go anywhere on Christmas, not to worry about competing inlaws.  I grew up with a big, big extended family. Quiet holidays with just us five plus my mother-in-law and father-in-law are so small. So...boring. How do I learn to accept this as normal and love it for what it is?

Do you know?