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?


  1. [Oh for the love. Sorry Claire. I keep seeing lots of errors. I promise, last correction!]

    Claire - Hang in there. I kind of believe that as more time passes, you'll be better able to embrace your new normal. I think there will always be some part of you that longs for the kind of holidays and family that you've described in this post, but that part of you will probably get smaller and smaller as more time passes and you continue to work on YOU.

    I can relate to this post, at least a little bit. I know my personal situation is not the same because in my case, I haven't lost my FOO and the loss of DH's FOO is just not very devastating to me. But, I did once dream about and imagine being married to someone who's family would love and accept me and I had imagined that my FOC would just grow exponentially. It makes me sad that we can't have a relationship with my husband's FOO - particularly his step-family, where there are lots of Littles (DH's step-mother's grandchildren, who would have been my kid's cousins) that are super close in age to my own Littles. I had once thought I would have a huge extended family with lots of cousins for our kids to play with, much like I had grown up with. And birthday parties! Oh the spectacular birthday parties I had imagined with lots of aunts and uncles and cousins.

    My kids have three cousins that they know and have relationships with. That's all they know, and all they'll probably ever know. (It seems unlikely that two of my brothers will have children, for a variety of reasons) so it's just me and one of my brothers having kids. Our birthday parties are small. There are no grandparents or cousins or aunts and uncles from my husband's side that will ever be welcome. It makes me sad sometimes.

    I know my loss is nowhere near as painful as yours. Not even close. But I just wanted to share with you that I get it...if but just a little bit. I get it. You are not alone. I feel for you. So, hang in there.

  2. Hi, it's good to hear from you, even if it's under these circumstances.
    I struggle with this all of the time. The yearning for it to be this big, extended family. Even the cousins my kids do see have really screwed up parents who don't make seeing us a priority at all (they favor her family) and so they really don't have any sense of extended family. We are not fully NC with anyone, but the total lack of connection -even withing the "image" of extended family - leaves me lonely too.
    I try to remember that most people don't have that big, exciting family. That rarely does anyone get to have tons of cousins, aunts and uncles, let alone healthy, kind ones. I have a friend who's daughter was lamenting no cousins coming to Christmas. And that is because she just doesn't have any on that side. So, I'm trying to make peace with what I have as best I can. Easier said than done at times, but I am trying.

  3. Oh, I know this sadness. I'm one of 9 sibs, but am only close with one and have tentative relationships with 2 others. Kids don't know cousins, etc. But we've broken the spell and that's worth so much - and the loneliness has always been there within the NFOO. It was just unspoken and accepted... I can honestly say that I don't miss the craziness, the shaming, the ugliness of holidays with the NFOO - but I miss the idea of having a loving FOO - and that will always be there in my heart, I think.

  4. I think when it comes to holidays, you have to take what comfort you have. I have no children. And since I've chosen to go no contact with my family; which ends up including nieces and nephews, holidays can get very lonely. I try to make the best of it with my husband. I also comfort myself with old movies like, "It's a Wonderful life" , "Miracle on 34th street" , "White Christmas". I find the best Christmas music ( A Charlie Brown Christmas is excellent, even if you don't like jazz!);and throw in dose of radical acceptance.
    Try to make up your own new traditions too. I think the pain will always be there ,but we can lessen it.
    I know this post is late, but I hope it helps for next year..