Well it's Christmas Day and the day is pretty much shot and we went to my husband's sister's house for her annual “look what I have” event. Lots of food, several family members, although not as many as in the past. And as seems to be the occurrence of most years where I am either made to look a fool or a laugh is had at my expense I was once again publicly embarrassed as the one and only easy target in the house.
Over the years the number of attendees has been dwindling. Among the invitees several of her friends from work and people to whom she’s sold houses, but every year these are different people as her fellow realtors come and go based on their abilities to sell houses (apparently there is a lot of turn-around in the real estate industry) and as for those people who have purchased homes from her I believe as they settle in to their new abodes the appreciation and obligation they once felt for her efforts begin to fade so they are less likely to attend an associates event year after year. She has some dedicated neighbors that live a door or two down the street that attend every year but I think a huge part of their attendance is based on the proximity of her house and their ability to walk back home after achieving an early afternoon buzz on champagne, Bloody Marys and Mermosas.
I think people just get tired of having the obligation year after year after year of attending this "brag fest" and believe me, attendance is generally mandatory, especially for family members, as she does not forget and will remind you if you don’t show up, at least she does to me, when I don’t attend she will go months without speaking to me and when she finally does start talking to me again it usually begins with some like "You betrayed the family”, as if anyone cared if I were there or not, no it makes her angry that someone has the audacity to not attend without good reason, and quite honestly sometime I just don't want to go, "I'm not in the mood for her!" (See "I'm Not in the Mood for Her Tonight").
It's ironic, her anger at me for not attending. My personal betrayal is never is mentioned as to how and why she stopped coming to my home for Christmas Eve when my husband and I used to celebrate, looking forward to our night of festivities, and when she did finally show up she was sweating at the brow for any excuse to get out as soon as possible, coming early to avoid my own family stating as soon as she walked into the door "We are going to have to leave", claiming they needed to attend their once per year worship session at “mass”, a church she never mentions any other time of the year, and you can be sure every one she knows will hear of her valiant effort, her sacrifice during this busy time of her life to attend church, like she is some sort of zealot. Her answer to me to this query of irony would be "Well you don't celebrate Christmas anymore" and my answer to that would be "because you stopped coming!" We don't need celebrate the holiday, I don't believe in god but the partying part was fun. My family either died or moved away. She just "STOPPED COMING". Its not her fault that we don't celebrate but believe me my husband and I always looked forward annually to the 15 to 30 minutes she and her husband spent honoring us and our home with by their attendance, the attendance she demands of me and the rest of her family.
Well anyway, back to today's party, it was nice (for a while). She has a way a being pushy (or as one her good friends once referred to her to me after a few drinks “a real bitch”) and as I said I didn’t want to go, I never do want to go anymore, and thankfully the previous year I had a great excuse due a lie she perpetrated on me and my husband, frankly I was pissed off at her (See: "I Don't Like Myself"). The whole event, this celebration of god, is a farce, a spectacle for her to show off her wealth and what she has obtained, how much better she is and how much more she has than the after person. I truly never really want to go anymore and this morning was no different. I was extremely anxious, my blood pressure and high and I know this .because I took my reading twice and in both cases they were elevated in every aspect (sys, dis, and pulse) so I ended up taking a beta blocker (which I really should make a commitment to keep up on because after all I was diagnosed with high blood pressure by two or three different doctors after that paramedics at work incident. The thing is that when I was taking them pretty regularly my blood pressure, my low number, started getting extremely low, like in the 60’s so this started to scare me in the opposite way, I started fearing it was going so low that by taking the pills it will somehow kill me. I stopped taking them for a while and then I got out of the habit so now I only take them when I think about it which is probably just as be for me, I need to be consistent.) Anyway I was extremely anxious as we left our house and couldn't wait for the first Bloody Mary to take the edge off, knowing I would be half drunk by the time we left her home (not sloppy but would have quite the buzz, its the only way I can survive the event).
So "the bitch" in her came out after awhile (I am not calling her a bitch, I am talking about her attitude), as a hostess she has learned very well to dictate and delegate tasks to persons and she used me today in the ways she usually does (got get the ice from the garage, stock the soda cooler, take a lighter and go around and light the candles, etc.), I should be honored because it means she is comfortable enough to order me around like family but I always feel a bit of stress under her direction, especially if I fuck up and do something out of the ordinary.
Her house as always was immaculately decorated, clean and spotless (my husband told me she uses the cleaning lady from her personal realtor’s office to maintain her house and of course because the same cleaning lady cleans her offices it is a tax deduction, just another benefit the rich get to enjoy, while we common people have to scrub our own toilets before a party she literally has “the help” to maintain both the inside and out (my husband tells me they use the business lawn service to maintain the outside too, and of course, a tax deduction due to all the properties they maintain)).
As usual the wealth and poshness, the grandstanding, the “look what we have achieved in life and you can only dream of a similar fairytale existence, and when the holiday’s are finished you won’t speak of your own successes and happiness, but of mine, what I have and who I am and your quaint little celebrations were only cute but not as noble and dignified as what I am sharing with you. Oh and please bring a dish because with my illnesses I can no longer do this on my own.”
The sinful pride that these people take in their accomplishment, the joy they have at sharing their prideful possessions, the gift of showing what they have, their brilliance, during the holidays knows no bounds, and we attendees should be thankful for the honor of being included. Her Christmas celebrations are what at least on the outside appear to be something for all of us to envy and to aspire. She thinks she makes people happy with her show of wealth but her guests, on edge, nervous, like myself or the older lady this afternoon who spilled a bit of “Bloody Mary” on the kitchen counter and nearly freaked out and what people must be thinking while I assisted her in cleaning it up whispering to her "no one saw" after she said "what must people think?"; or the other the person that worried that the bits of crab salad that fell into her lap made her the clown of the party. Everyone is on edge in their own way trying to pretend they are something they are not, as if they are visiting the White House. Oh what joy to go someplace to celebrate your lord’s birth to the point where you are so self-conscious you are more worried about a crumb falling from your napkin than you are to know why you are there, to "celebrate the birth of a deity", as they say these days...“The Reason for the Season”.
These parties which at one time had been fun kept people here until all hours, until the hosts were literally throwing them towards the door so they could “celebrate” personally with their immediate family (which generally (and thankfully) does not include her brother...or me as his spouse) after giving the gift of “boasting” to all. Now people leave early and don’t even give excuses anymore. This annual party that went from a common man’s celebration, of fun, laughter, and drink, have turned into a royal reception of standing around (in one’s socks as to not mess up the carpet), marveling at the immaculately polished silverware and matching dining accoutrements, everything in a matching color, down to the specially purchased poinsettias all in “purple”, the color of royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition.
My husband and I used to be honored to be one of the last to leave these events (before they became affairs and not a fun family day), not because there was any special joy in having us there but because we were usually drunk enough from Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas and with no other family to go to visit, come 5PM or 6PM our hosts would say “Please stay for another drink after every one is gone” and we would (and of course help clean up the kitchen) Then we would stay, sitting on the sofa, drinks in hand, reminiscing about the day's event. We don’t get this dubious honor anymore, mostly because she is too ill these days with her condition to carry on, at least in a public forum. I’m sure she and her husband continue on with their celebrations through continued consumption of alcohol after everyone is gone, which believe me I am the last to complain about because the first thing I did when we walked back into our own house after leaving the “Palace on the Bay” was to pour myself a drink to begin my true celebration of the holidays, to get as drunk as possible as quickly as possible.
Today we did not get the distinguished personal invite to remain as we were scuttled to the door our hosts, noting that their party had indeed ended an hour before it was expected to end turned to the last two guests behind us, as they were going for their coats and asked “Won’t you please stay and have another drink with up? It's still early” and even though I was grateful to be able to leave that den of prosperity I was a bit disappointed in that we weren’t given the honor but I’m sure their last two guests enjoyed the kitchen drudgery afterwards which would be left in a state of cleanliness, all foods put away and orderly, as to not cause the poor cleaning woman too much work the next day, if they hadn't given her a day off during the Christmas holidays...that would be so “un-republican” like, wouldn’t it? So my sister-in-law got her final Christmas wish before she and her husband exchanged the gobs of gifts of which she will soon be bragging about to my husband, the trips, the money, the gift cards, the dinner-theater tickets only the most wealthy and most stylish are attending these days. And after she does attend them she will accidently forget as she tells him of all the high-sodium, high-fat, foods and fancy cocktails they enjoyed, those foods and drink off limits to her because of her illness, those foods that when she decides it's time for sympathy will brag to others how she has to avoid these dangerous treats, as they are all against her diet and she “strictly” follows her doctor’s orders, and obeys his every last word. (How convenient...)
Why am I complaining about any of this? I don't know. I don't like going there anyway. Maybe I’m jealous, no, I am jealous. Not because of her wealth and poshness, (her best friend whom I have previously mentioned called her a homewrecker for marrying her current husband because he was still married when they started dating and maybe it is mere coincidence he being a successful realtor and wealthy property owner before they married that shortly thereafter she too became a successful realtor and wealthy property owner, but they are "in love", as she frequently brags telling all how he stands waiting for her as she exits her showers with a heated towel to wrap her chilling body quickly, a heated towel, freshly taken from the dryer as to not allows a single drop of shower water to drip due to a single shiver.
I miss my Christmas celebrations, the ones that my husband and I used to throw for my own family on Christmas Eve. The only time of the year her brother (my husband) ever asked her to come to our house and the only time she felt obligated and I believe mostly because the day before was her brother’s birthday, otherwise she would have used her “I need to go to mass” excuse to skip us altogether. You know to celebrate that thing that she pays no mind to 364 days of the year. She used to attend our events, dragging her husband to the "poor people's home", you know those tacky people that decorate in all different colors and not just purple or mauve or gold, the colors of wealth, those colors that are celebrated like a common man. Her husband would follow her into our home and of course would slip in a snide remark or two to ensure we knew how he felt about the tackiness of our holiday decor or simply just his annoyance at having to be there at all. They would always make sure to get out before my family would arrive (or at least do their best) telling them (if they were unlucky enough to not escape beforehand) as they passed in the doorway…. “Sorry on our way to Mass” and they simply could not forgo hence they burn in hell forever for the sin of not pretending that the next cruise they enjoyed was not a Christmas gift, the joy, the happiness, the celebration of their “convenient” lord and god. In reality I doubt that they ever go to church at all but I really can’t say that because I don’t follow them around to verify they life their lives as nobly as they claim. She is always boasting how her realtor business keeps them working on Sundays, I don't know how she could possible have the time to attend church, so the only god she has on her mind on Sunday is the “almighty dollar”. It was and still is a convenient excuse for them to get out of doing things they don’t want to do.
All I know is that Christmas that has no religious meaning to me whatsoever will never be the same, it was the only time in the world that my family (minus my eldest brother and his family) would get together and enjoy each other and I sometimes wanted to share the joy with this woman, my sister-in-law, whom I have known as long as I have know my own husband (about 2 times longer than she has known her current husband), a woman I want and try to love but one who routinely and systematically makes me painfully aware that (aside from being the power that can take her brother from me at anytime she chooses) is a better person that I am, financially, emotionally, mentally, and now physically (she just found a donor but that’s another story).
So anyway, in keeping with her annual tradition of subjugating me in some fashion she once again managed to publicly embarrass me, to single me out from everyone in the house and make a spectacle of me while ensuring she was the center of the attention in a quiet room. She really pissed me off treating me like a child in front of her entourage. I was talking to two of my husband’s cousins and his aunt. There were lots of people talking and enjoying themselves and the four of us were deep in conversation, I just happened to be the one speaking at the moment she decided to make a fool of me. As I said the room was crowded probably at the epiphany of attendance for the entire day. Deep in conversation the cousins and aunt I was unaware that a new couple had come into the house and our hostess was introducing them (like anyone cared who they were, we would never see them again, and probably never attend again because they had recently purchased a house from her, more than likely they had no other place to go for Xmas or still felt some sort of obligation to our host. So I’m not sure what happened, how our host was going about introducing the new couple, (again as I was focused in our conversation) whether she had cleared her throat and asked for attention and I hadn’t heard her or what but suddenly as I was speaking to my small group, in the middle of full sentence, my sister-in-law puts her hand on my mouth. She COVERED MY MOUTH! In front of everyone at the party now staring at this spectacle of me sitting there having been publicly silenced as if I were Elizabeth Warren speaking against the nomination of a racist. And then to a now totally silent room says to her new guess and for all to hear “That's what we do here when we want people to be quiet” and of course everyone laughed then she said “Now that things are quiet let me introduce everyone”. I sat in shock, totally embarrassed as she announced “Everyone this is “so and so”, etc. I didn’t hear anything else, at this point I didn't give a fuck who these people were, I just could have died right there. The queen had found her way of showing her power declaring a very public admonition of which I was the recipient. It was not only embarrassing but it was highly insulting, I was singled out in a room of over 20 people, abashed as if I were the only person speaking at that time.
When the room finally got back to normal, people started talking again I looked to husband's aunt and his cousins and asked “Were we told to be quiet so she could make an introduction? Was I being a loud fool and didn’t realize until her hands covered my mouth that I was supposed to be quiet.” They knew my feelings were hurt. I think they were aghast as much as I. I know they could see in my face and I could see by their response that it was a horrific act she had committed. All three said “no” they didn't hear her make that sort of announcement. I may have been out of line but I said, and loud enough to be heard “So I’m not wrong in saying that she I just have dealt with me alone in that manner.” They agreed, they saying it was "a bit" rude. It she were truly the classy lady she believes she is and wants everyone to think that she portrays elegance and dignity then the proper thing for her to have done would have been to put her hand on my shoulder and said “Excuse me brother-in-law, I would like to introduce two knew guests.” Instead she decided to make me a public fool.
There will be no next Christmas party at my husband’s sister house for me. That was the last. I didn’t want to go, I never want to go, I’m done with it. I had said that this might be either her or my husband’s last because of their health issues but she has found a donor (again another story) and will live so I’m sure as with another person I know that have received the same type of operation if she maintains her health (cut out the vodka, champagne, and hamburgers that she claims never to eat) she will live a long life and will have the strength to continue these parties for at least another decade. My husband on the other hand is still on his few last years that much I do know so if he dies so will my obligation and association with his sister, but in the future I will insist he go by himself (even if by Uber) to be with his family as she has proven to me again and again she is no family of mine.
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you all got what you deserve.