Dysfunctional Thanksgiving

It is now 4 days before Thanksgiving and everything is up in the air as to who, what, when, where and why.  Traditionally my sister has hosted Thanksgiving at her house. Sometimes we go and sometimes we do something different. Last year, we went camping because we just wanted to do something outside of tradition to keep our mind off of our son that passed away earlier that year.

Anyway, we planned on going to my sisters this year for two reasons. 1. My brother lost his dear wife six months ago after 37 years of marriage and we want to be with him.  2. My mother is getting more and more feeble and may not make it through the winter.

Everything was planned: menu, who is bringing what food dish and who is driving my mom to my sisters. We even finalized plans for the following day: meet at mom’s the next day to set up her tree and put her Christmas decorations out so she could enjoy the holiday season. Again, this Christmas decorating at my mom’s is something my brother and his wife always did for her so this year we planned to all do it together to help my brother get through this first year without his wife.

So, it’s all set. Then, two days ago my sister called my mom, who in turn criticized all of us which led to my sister telling my mom that her hatred was not welcome in her home and if she couldn’t leave it behind, then she couldn’t come to Thanksgiving. This leads to my mom saying she was uninvited which led to my brother telling her that she misunderstood and my mom saying she won’t go unless my sister calls her. But, she will send food!!

There is this whole crazy, unhealthy pattern in relating to my mom that is not an easy pattern to break. My sister reached the point where she was done with it. We’ve all been there at one time or another but then old habits die hard, or the guilt sets in, and we meld back into our roles of enabling or accepting or denial or whatever the case may be of trying to keep mom happy.

We will never have the relationship with mom that we desire. We accept it, we gripe about it and we still love her.  We make sure she has all of her physical needs met, we take her to doctor appointments, take her to run errands or do shopping (last week I spent three hours in one small store, ugh), and yes, we do tell her we love her. But, Mom doesn’t think we love her because we do not meet her expectations or her concept of love.  We cannot do or be enough. It is such a shame, because we do love her but she can’t recognize it in the ways we express it. I’m sure she loves me, but I don’t recognize it either.

Do the best you can to show and express love on this day and all future days.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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