Patience: Blood Does Not Equal Love

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By Alisa Patience

Something that has become increasingly joked about regarding the holidays is dealing with obnoxious family members, like that one racist uncle yelling at you during dinner. While these jokes are certainly relatable and funny, they, while often exaggerated, highlight an aspect of family gatherings that contradicts the entire purpose of them. In other words, you don’t have to love every member of your family. We can’t choose our family, so it’s not your fault if your uncle happens to be racist or if you have nothing to talk about with your cousins. When you’re in these situations you look back and remember being a kid when all you had to do was look cute, say please and thank you, eat your turkey and sit on Santa‚Äôs lap. As you get older and start to understand what’s really being said around you, you form your own opinions, positive or negative.

I have a large family. Every year during Thanksgiving and Christmas I go to my grandma’s Christmas party, and I don’t know half the people there. Call me crazy, but you can’t love people you don’t know, whether or not you share DNA. That’s not cruel, selfish or anything to feel guilty about.

You don’t even have to love family members you’ve known your whole life. Families fight, members grow apart and it’s better to be upfront about your feelings than act passive-aggressively two to three times a year. There are people who I’m related to that I just don’t love. I used to feel guilty about this, but how can you love someone you don’t know or can’t stand? I used to be really close to one of my uncles when I was younger. As I’ve grown up, I’ve discovered more about him that I don’t like. We recently had a big fight as a result of too many years of hiding behind chit chat and obligatory visits. It’s no one’s fault. Now that it’s out in the open, we don’t have to spend time together. There’s no need to spend time with someone I don’t want to spend time with. Sure, Christmas is going to feel different this year, but different doesn’t always mean bad.

A major point of the holidays is to spend time with family, but most importantly you should spend time with the people you love. You cannot embrace the true spirit of the holidays when putting up a front. Some people might say that that’s the “mature” response, but in my experience it usually results in family drama, yelling, crying and slamming doors. Like with any problem, the only way to really solve it is to talk about it and come up with a legitimate, honest resolution. Speak to your parents or the person who is hosting Thanksgiving or a holiday dinner. You can always ask to be sat far away from a family member because they make you uncomfortable or just so you can remain in cheerful holiday spirits without being put down. You can also have them text you when the family member leaves and just arrive late, as long as you still get to see the people you truly love. You can even reschedule for another day or time. No matter your choice, and no matter who the family member is, don’t force yourself to be miserable this holiday season for the sake of politeness.