Thursday, January 04, 2007

break the chain

Christmas morning and the celebratory activities have gradually given way to Christmas afternoon (late morning, at the earliest) in my family as I live about 30 minutes away and my sister is prone to sleeping in, especially after a late night. As such, we do more of a brunch as a family than a traditional breakfast before heading over to my uncle's (dad's brother) house in the early afternoon. This year I decided to bake a quiche -- I have an easy recipe from "Real Simple" from a couple years back that combines two of my favorite foods: bacon and blue cheese. The last time I made this it was a hit, and it's so easy that even I'm not too lazy to make it. The blue cheese for the recipe is in the form of salad dressing (this shortcut, along with an egg substitute, like Egg Beaters, is why the recipe is so easy) and as I was removing the glass jar from the fridge it slipped and shattered on the kitchen floor. I cleaned up the ridiculous mess fairly quickly before heading to the RiteAid near my house to see if I could get a replacement jar of blue cheese dressing there and avoid what was sure to be a mess at the grocery store. They didn't have it, so it was off to Safeway where I was in, out and back home in record time. I slapped the quiche together and got online while it was baking.

Over Thanksgiving, my mother posited that my oven may be in need of calibrating, as it took almost 4 hours to cook a mere 5 Cornish game hens. I had forgotten about this, as I most likely have not used my oven since Thanksgiving. So after the 25 minutes baking that the recipe called for, the egg mixture was still raw. I left it for another 15 minutes while I got ready and the situation was pretty much the same. After 75 minutes of baking, the "flaky crust" started flaking all over the inside of the oven, and all the while the eggs were still raw. I pulled it out of the oven to see that the eggs had partially risen and were pulling the crust away from the tin. Then it collapsed. My mother, ever with good timing, called at this point and wondered what time I'd be arriving. She didn't expect to find me close to tears, and comforted me and said we'd eat the goodies she'd bought instead.

I headed over to my parents' house and dove in to help my father set up the new tv he bought my mother, but for whatever reason the Comcast box wasn't working. My father called Comcast for tech support (which was a surprise in itself) and tried to get it up and running before giving up on the woman. He insisted I call back after we'd opened gifts, about two hours later, and lo and behold, I got the same phone agent. Still no luck, so we headed off to my uncle's house.

I thin I've mentioned before that my mother, sister and I routinely feel we're not welcome among my father's side of the family even though my father has done so much for all of them at various points. He has 6 brothers and sisters and each one has several children and each of their children has several children, so family gatherings on that side are insane. We were the first to arrive, which never bodes well, so we were hanging out in the kitchen talking with my uncle when I noticed a photo Christmas card on the fridge from my father's other brother, Dan, and his wife. I pulled my mother aside and asked if they had received one, and she said they had not. Later, after most folks arrived, Dan's wife (er, my aunt) wanted to take pictures of all the siblings but acted put out she had to have my father in the photo. She went around taking pictures off all the families and someone mentioned she neglected my sister, mother and I even though we were all sitting in the same room. She sighed and snapped one without much care -- we were barely in the frame of the photograph.

Her whole attitude, and Dan's, now, really ticks me off. My father had to hear about their engagement through the grapevine, Dan never told my dad. My dad was the only sibling not in the wedding party. My father wasn't invited to Dan's bachelor party. At the wedding, there was another "let's get the siblings together for a pic but leave ThatBeeGirl's dad out" incident. They're expecting (honeymoon baby, anyone?) and their child will be my first first cousin in years, and I'm excited as I never pictured Dan as a father -- he's always been more of a big brother to me. But again, my father had to hear it from others.

My father bought a house for Dan about 10 years ago and not that he should be forever grateful, it's some class. I mean -- my father didn't even give me one dime toward my home (I'm not complaining, I'm just sayin').

Basically, I'm not my new aunt's biggest fan.

After we eat, it's time for gifts. As there are so many people, it was decided a few years back that the adults would participate in a White Elephant (the good kind, not the crappy kind) gift exchange with a limit of $30. Every year, someone gets their feelings hurt because someone "stole" the gift they really wanted. That's part of the fun of the game, says I. Anyway, this year I played it well and ended up with one of those massaging foot bath thingies that I "stole" from my cousin. It was her year to be upset, I guess. So as we're leaving, she comes up to me and says she really wanted it. I jokingly say, "Maybe I'll bring it back next year and you can get it then!" Then she says, "Well, it wasn't for me, it was for Paul, the vibrating is good for his senses."

(Sidebar: This cousin has 7 children. Yes, 7. She'd have 8, but one of them, Paul's twin, died in infancy. Paul is severely mentally retarded, and hid twin would have been also, had he lived. Both children were abused by their former nanny.)

So I shrugged and handed her the foot massager, saying she made me feel bad. Which is true -- had I held on to the item I'd be feeling mighty guilty right now. In her defense, she offered a trade for the item she had, a griddle, but she tacked on, "Although I'd love to use in to make my family breakfast..."

I let her keep it.

Earlier that evening, a different cousin's husband was talking about how they were leaving for Tahoe the next day. My sister asked if they were staying on the south or north shore, and cousin's hubby said he hadn't made hotel reservations -- everything was so expensive . He wouldn't stop talking about how expensive it was, and they wanted to take his mother-in-law and father-in-law with them, so that added to the expense, blah blah blah. I thought this was odd, but didn't think too much of it until we were about to leave and they approached my father -- "Could we borrow your cabin for the week until New Year's Day, Uncle Joe?" Sonofa... Seems to me they had decided they'd ask a loooong time ago, but why the whole "ohhhhh, it's sooooo expennnnsive" charade?!

That was the last straw for me -- I asked my mother if we could go somewhere, anywhere, else next year. She, my sister and I are in agreement that we need to create a new Christmas holiday tradition.


  1. Oh My Gosh!!! The nerve of that family. Ok, you are a bigger person than I am because I don't do very well at biting my tongue. My opinion (not that you asked), is that your dad needs to put his foot down and stop it with the handouts, at least until they are appreciated. Did your uncle send a thank you note for the cabin, or any kind of gesture? My blood is boiling and they aren't even my family. Sorry for my rant now. :)

  2. i didn't get all the way thru- but I found you- oh and by the way did you know that Sally works tech support for Comcast!!!

  3. New family tradition! Perhaps with some Wii bowling, you pro!=)

  4. Our family plays that gift exchange game, too, and my parents resolved the problem of someone getting pissed off by having an extra "consolation prize" type gift. Seems to work ok most years.

    Sounds like it might be time to cut this side of the family off, or at least not interact that much (and certainly not doing them any more favors). I was gonna suggest you trying to work the grapevine to see if there's some underlying reason why your uncle and his new wife seem to be excluding your dad (was there some wierd misunderstanding that happened, that hasn't been cleared up?) but from the other stuff you mentioned it sounds like they may just be insensitive people who use others to their advantage.