In your family, do people stay no matter what? Do they show up for the big family functions even when they’re mad at somebody, just because they believe it’s important for family to be together? Or do they stay away, maybe for years, maybe forever, because something has hurt them, and they can’t or won’t get over it?
My mom’s family, with whom my brother and I spent most of our holidays and special occasions growing up, is the first way. We may not have a good time, but darn it, we are THERE. Through divorces and remarriages and awkward moments and bad memories, everyone just keeps showing up. The difficult things sometimes get talked about, sometimes not, but eventually things even out again and we are glad that no bridges got burned in the process.
My dad’s youngest brother has been estranged from us for years. Not a complete break, but enough of one that he was not present at my wedding or my brother’s (he was invited). There is a lot of stuff there, dirty laundry that I won’t air on a blog, even one as anonymous as this. The point is this: I contacted him again, got rebuffed again, and got angry, and maybe a little reckless. I asked him why — what could I have possibly done to create this distance?
He answered me. I think we can make things better between us. Not perfect, but better.