Thanksgiving 2010 arrived. Despite our best efforts to include EFIL and L in our plans, they were, once again, unavailable to us. We gave them several weeks notice. I asked L if they wanted to come to our house for T-day Leftovers. I wanted to include at least some of DH's FOO in our plans, since we were not going to be doing anything with NMIL and I thought it would make him feel better to know that we could at least extend some of our time to his father. When I spoke with L, she told me that EFIL would probably be working that day and that they would let us know.
They never let us know. They didn't call or email us with information about whether EFIL would be working that day.
We tried again. I sent L an email saying that if the day after T-day didn't fit in to their plans, since it was understandable that EFIL might be working and wasn't yet aware of his schedule for that day, then perhaps they wanted to make plans for that weekend, instead.
Again, no response.
DH and I decided that it wasn't worth communicating with EFIL and L about the holidays, since they obviously weren't interested in getting together with us. As it turned out, our town holds a special Christmas tree-lighting ceremony the day after T-day and my best friend asked us to join in the festivities. After realizing that EFIL and L were not going to make plans with us, DH and I opted not to set aside any time for them on the chance that they might change their minds and respond to our polite requests for their precious time. We accepted my best friend's offer to see the Christmas tree lighting and invited my parents to come along. DH left a message with his EF that he and L were welcome to come as well, if they were interested.
DH didn't actually speak with his father until Thanksgiving day, when he called to wish his father a Happy Turkey Day.
After wishing each other a happy day, EFIL asked, "So what are your plans for Christmas Eve?" This was an important question, that DH was already well-prepared for. He and I had predetermined that, because of the proximity of my due date to that particular holiday, we were not going to be making any plans and were instead going to play things by ear. I had written out different sets of plans in my private journal according to all the scenarios that might occur: If I was in the hospital on Christmas, if I was home already with a days-old newborn, and if I hadn't yet had the baby. The only aspect that remained constant and unchanging was that I wanted to see my family (Mom, Dad, and brothers) on Christmas day, regardless of the scenario. They mean that much to me, and I and my family to them. I knew that they would respect our needs and boundaries, and furthermore, do whatever we needed to accommodate us.
DH and I were agreed on that. We knew that we were not making plans with anyone, that we would see my family at some point on Christmas Day, and that everyone else was just going to have to wait until we were ready and willing to see them. I reserved that right for myself and my new baby - that I could put off any holiday visit, with any person or people I so chose, for our emotional, physical, and mental well-being. Period. I didn't give a flying-fuck if people had a problem with that. DH supported me fully. He knew, if anyone from his FOO asked, he would tell them we were not making any plans for Christmas, due to the upcoming birth of our second child. Not only was it impractical to commit to holiday parties and gatherings, it was just not something I wanted to do.
In the past, DH had spent Christmas Eve with EFIL and L. In 2009, we spent Christmas Eve with them, for the sake of upholding a holiday tradition of DH's. We had given up having dinner with my family that year, because we were still trying to include EFIL and L in our holiday plans. So it is not surprising that EFIL would inquire into our plans. But, given his past behaviors, it was becoming less surprising how selfish he really is.
When DH told him we were not going to be making plans, EFIL responded with the following guilt-inducing, self-serving vomit:
1. If Jonsi goes into labor on Christmas Eve, can't she just go the hospital from our house?
2. But, DH, Christmas is about FAMILY.
3. The holidays are about seeing your family, and if you don't include them, then you're going to be alone in the end.
What were the unspoken rules that EFIL was preaching to DH? What was he really saying? Let's take a look, Dear Reader:
If Jonsi goes into labor on Christmas Eve, can't she just go the hospital from our house?
Translation: I don't care about Jonsi or her comfort. I don't care if she goes into labor at our house and doesn't make it to the hospital in time to safely deliver my next grandchild. Grandchild, what's a grandchild? I don't care about her safety or well-being, or that of your unborn child. All I care about is getting what I want, and what I want is YOU, DH, to do what I say, when I say it.
My feelings: This was a shitty thing to say and it pissed me off. I could tell, just from hearing DH's side of the conversation, that the discussion that had started on a simple and innocent note had quickly moved to a very toxic place. Who the fuck was this asshole, to declare that my needs were not valid? Who the fuck was he to say that he expected us to do what was not in our best interests? Who the fuck was he to be making demands of us, however polite he pretended to word them?
But DH, Christmas is about FAMILY.
Translation: Christmas is about your Family of Origin. It's about showing your allegiance to the people who raised you, not to the family you have chosen and who you want to nurture and take care of. You owe us. You owe us your time and energy, no matter what circumstance you are in. Your FAMILY is and always will be your parents and your siblings. We want your wife and your children to come second, or third, or fourth in your list of priorities, because your parents should come first. I am angry and frustrated that you won't do what I want when I want it.
My feelings: That's right, Christmas IS about family. But the concept of family takes on a whole new meaning when you have fallen in love and started one of your own. For us, Christmas is about our children, more than anything else. I want for them to have beautiful, wonderful memories of their holidays past. I want for them to feel our love, strong and powerful. I want for them to enjoy the traditions we create, and know that when the time comes, it's okay for those traditions to change and evolve. I want for our children to feel safe, and warm, and cared for. You are right, EFIL, that Christmas is about family. Just not the family you are trying to shove down my DH's throat. Family is people who love you. Family is people who are honest. Family is people who have your best interests at heart. Our Christmas is, now and forever more, about OUR family: Me, DH, and our children. Someday, it will include their children too. Christmas will grow and change, as it should. Eventually, we will no longer be the most important people in our children's lives, and that is good; that is right; that is healthy. Remember that, the next time you blame us for "cutting you out" of our plans. Remember, EFIL, that no matter how hard you try, you can't come between my Dear Husband and I, and you will never be important enough to come before our children. Remember, too, that we gave you a place in our new family, and you chose not to take it. That was your choice.
The holidays are about seeing your family, and if you don't include them, then you're going to be alone in the end.
Translation: You don't do what we want you to do, you're gonna get burned. And we're controlling the flames, baby. We'll guilt you at every turn. We'll ignore you with the cold shoulder. We'll cut you out of our wills.
My feelings: What am I? Fucking chopped liver? What are our children? DH will never be alone, and he'll never die alone, though I'm glad that EFIL was at least honest in his moment of selfishness. I don't think he meant "alone" in the sense that DH wouldn't be surrounded by loved ones on his deathbed. I think he meant "alone" like "We, the important people, will cut you off from all the material possessions we could have provided you with, if you don't do what we want." If EFIL thinks that DH will ever be alone, then he is a fool. If he wishes for DH to be alone, then he is a monster.
After all this talk of wanting to see us on Christmas Eve, you'd think for sure, this guy would take the opportunity offered and visit with us the day after Thanksgiving.
He was not sad that he couldn't see DH. He was angry because DH wouldn't do what he wanted him to do. He felt entitled. He was selfish. He wanted what he wanted, when he wanted it. He didn't like that DH said no.
It's events like this that have lead me to the realization that it is not so surprising that EFIL and NMIL were once a couple. They deserved each others' selfishness.