Sunday, December 26, 2004

Me and My Dad’s Family

I didn't go with my dad to visit with his family for Christmas this year. Nor did I visit on Thanksgiving. Usually, the four of us spend holidays with my mom's family (my grandmother and Auntee). My dad will then leave for a while and visit his family since both sides of my family live primarily on the south side of Chicago. My sister almost never goes to visit them. However, I would go with my dad and spend time with his family.

They get together for every holiday. When they gather, at least 10-15 people are around. In addition to Grandmother Ella, my great aunts/uncles and cousins will be there. My dad's family is pretty closeknit. The ones that are in Chicago spend a lot of time together. The number of people has dwindled in the last few years as relatives have passed away. Over the years, a great uncle and two great aunts have passed away. Also, my cousin's husband was shot and killed. He was a Chicago cop. Yet, the gatherings still continue.

There has always been a problem I've had with the gatherings...the lack of anyone my age. I have no cousins/relatives that are close to my age in my dad's family (unless they are distant relatives). My cousins are either much older or much younger. The closest cousins to my age are two years younger than Samone. This always leaves me in kind of a predicament...I have no one to hang out with. When Samone would go with Dad and I, we'd stick together. When I'd be the only one with my dad, I'd usually sit somewhere and watch TV. Since a lot of them like to play cards, my dad would normally engage in a few games.

Another thing about my dad's family is that they are kind of gossipy. If someone tells one of them, they all will eventually know. My grandmother is the one who tells us the stuff going on in the grapevine. Because of this, I try not to tell them anything I don't want all of them to know. However, I made a big mistake and told my grandmother something. At a gathering, I talked to one of my cousins and told him about myself. I said something that was true but conflicted with what I told my grandmother. You can guess what happened...

I never bothered to try and explain myself regarding that.

In addition to this, they are very interested in what I'm doing. I've been without a job for a while now. It's been frustrating as I try to find a job and never get anywhere. However, one thing I do not want to do is have to talk my way out of talking about my job search. If I were to visit my dad's family during a gathering, this is exactly what I would do. I'd hear comments about my search, what I need to do, what I'm doing wrong, and so on. It would not be pleasant. Instead of being about spending time with family, it would become an interrogation. And I know things would not be very good if I ended up snapping someone up for making the wrong comment.

All of the stuff I've mentioned factored into my decision to not make any appearances at gatherings. I'm really torn by that decision. Sometimes, I feel selfish and petty. I'm basically not seeing them because I will not enjoy myself if I do. I is family. Don't they deserve to see me sometime? At the same time, it illustrates my shame. I don't want to show myself if I'm not doing really well. It was easy to show myself when I was in school getting good grades or when I was in college. However, now that I'm in a rut of sorts, I don't want to be around. Then, I also feel guilty because my dad ends up taking the slack for me by giving them the (selected) update.

It's not like I don't love my dad's family or that I don't love them as much as my mom's side. It's just that my dad's family is different. I hear the same criticism sometimes from my mom's family but it's rare. They do understand that I'm doing my best. In comparison, Grandmother Ella (my dad's mother) criticizes often.

I may make an appearance at the next gathering of my dad's family (unless it's a funeral...then it's a definite) even if I'm not doing very well. Maybe I'll unbite my tongue a little bit and be a bit more real. It might be nice to get some of these issues off my chest.

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