Family drama plus holidays = awesome.
August 21, 2013 8:34 AM Subscribe
I come from a generally easygoing family which lately has developed a schism between a family member and his immediate family, and because of this a holiday invitation has created drama.
posted by ricochet biscuit to human relations (13 answers total)
From my childhood onward, every Christmas Eve people gathered at Gram and Grandpa Biscuit's. We were and are a widely scattered bunch, and this was and is often the only time we would run into each other. Grandpa Biscuit cashed in about twenty years ago, and my grandmother went into a retirement home about a decade ago. The Xmas Eve gathering tradition passed onto my aunt and uncle, who took up the hosting duties. It proceeded thus every year save for last year (for reasons which will appear in a moment).
Two things shifted in the last year or so: said aunt and uncle are looking to sell their house to move into a smaller place which might not be big enough for twenty people to commingle socially, and their two sons (my cousins) have developed a serious rift. The elder of the two, J, has cut a lot of ties with the rest of the family, and the younger, M, has made no secret of the fact that their disagreements are so strong he is prepared to do violence to his elder brother if they cross paths (M's exact words were that he would "execute" his brother). Both of these guys are in their early twenties, for what it's worth.
Because of the venue of the last 10-12 years being out of consideration, I offered this last week to hold it at my place. The family members I mentioned it to were all okay with this, so yesterday I sent out an invitation on Facebook to everyone in the family I am connected with. My cousin J was not among this group; he cut himself off from me some years ago.
J and M have more problems than just a rift between them: J and his girlfriend had a son about three years ago but their relationship did not last long beyond their son's birth. Back when J and I were still connected on Facebook, he was openly insulting his then-recent girlfriend and her new boyfriend. The young son is being partly raised by his grandparents (J's parents) but has little or no contact with J.
My younger brother D is still in touch with cousin J, and perceived my not inviting him as a snub (last year's Xmas Eve event was cancelled because J had let his parents know that he might turn up uninvited at their door and implicitly cause a disturbance). D seems to side with J against cousin M, and hinted that M would be the cause of the problems if the two of them were in the same room.
Anyway, as I say: I sent out a quick message to the dozen or so people in the family who are on Facebook asking them around for Xmas Eve here. Well-meaning brother D added J to the conversation, which is merely awkward, but then wrote a lengthy message to all this morning saying that he feels that "just because J and his immediate family do not get along there is no reason to exile him from the rest of the family." He adds, "Perhaps there is much that I am unaware of, but if this is so easy for the rest of us to stand by and allow this to happen then I'm not sure I want to be a part of this family anymore. I'm sorry to those who don't know what is going on but by doing nothing after reading this you're contributing to the problem. If there is a valid reason for all this please explain, but no half truths. " More schisms ahoy.
I have talked to J's dad -- my uncle -- this morning about the situation, who merely says, "Do what you have to do," but adds that he thinks it highly unlikely that J would turn up, even if explicitly invited, and further adds that he thinks his two sons will eventually find themselves in court.
How best to calm the waters? I think brother D is on the mark when he ventures that maybe there is much he is unaware of, because none of us knows all the details of J's alienation from the rest of the family. However, I don't especially want to call out my little brother in the conversation that he has dropped this into (one family member ventured privately to me that if nothing else, it is inappropriate to invite a third party to someone else's house; however, this is not the time to get Emily Post on his ass). For my part, I am happy to have everyone who cares to attend turn up in December and trust that people will comport themselves like grown-ups. I think the chances of actual violence ensuing between J and M at the party are about nil, even if both were here (which seems unlikely). I think it incumbent on me to say something here as the host-to-be, but I am not sure what to say.
Ultimately, I think J and his immediate family need to work things out before they would all be comfortable being together at a family gathering, but now that the invite has been extended by proxy, I guess we have to address it somehow.