I have to give a huge thumbs up for non traditional family holidays. No long hours cooking, overly crowded house, a formal dining table, a wrecked kitchen or screaming children.
The holiday I spent in Los Angeles was a lovely combination of brunches, lunches, pedicures, dim sum, cocktails and visits.
Of course it was painful hearing my sister call her soon to be ex-husband to tell her children Happy Thanksgiving and overhear the eldest girl snipe and bitch at my sister in the best imitation of a bitchy 10 year old.
"Why is she even calling at all," my niece said to her father. "I don't want to speak to her." It will probably take years for my sister and her daughter to repair their relationship.
But the conflict is nearing a close; my sister and MABIL have a court date in January. As predicted, he is seeking full custody of both children, and she is seeking joint. I am praying my sister succeeds and her lawyer will smash MABIL's petition into the dust.
When I hear of MABIL's particular stream of crazy, I feel sad, humored and angry all at once. I don't think I've ever really known a man who steadfastly refuses to recognize reality. (Other than my father.) While he tries to project the image of a wounded, caring father, he has told their children their mother is gay and is abandoing them to marry her lesbian girlfriend and have sex; he interviews them on tape while they cry and plead for their mother to come back; and he tells them that gay people are sinful and are going to hell.
In other words, 'Your mother is going to hell.' Is it any wonder the kids are terrified about their mother?
Is this really what a good parent does? These kids are 8 and 10 years old! My stressed out nephew tells my sister, "I don't like it when daddy talks to me about this every day. I don't want to talk about this anymore." My niece is seeing a counselor but who knows what effect that's having since she practically boils with hate toward my sister. In the face of all this, my sister is quiet, calm and forbearing. I honestly don't know how she does it. I wouldn't have the patience to be so...strong-minded.
And a hilariously pathetic picture of MABIL's view of relationships is growing clearer.
According to MABIL, love is:
...Not about pleasing one another.
...Not about being in love with the other person (because love eventually dies) but about loving what the person represents. (Thereby erasing the agency and subjectivity of the partner completely.)
...Not about personal happiness, either for yourself or your partner.
...About structure and community. (Which sounds about as appealing as catechism.)
...Never talked about, reflected upon or tended to. (It's apparently just a misshapen troll huddled in a corner you ignore for years.)
MABIL's picture of love is the opposite of any lesson found in Corinthians; it is a vision of repression, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and duty to others at the expense of the individual. Despite his obvious anger, he even has the nerve to say that he will forgive my sister and 'take her back.' I shudder to think of being forced to live with someone for any extended period of time who believes these things.
(And don't get me started on MABIL's views about the body, sex and pleasure. Let's just say that he and Christine McDonnell have a lot in common. The man should have been a priest rather than a husband.)
My sister is one step closer to her liberation and I can see her sloughing off the remnants of her wrecked marriage; this weekend showed me a sister who wasn't tense, silent, cautious, or angry. She was her old self: funny, affectionate, present, smart and loving.
Is having my sister back an even trade for the past year? Perhaps.