One of the major reasons we returned to the UK was for our daughter to get to know her family, or at least those of them that would or could not visit when we were abroad. A few came, a few didn’t.
We came home for Christmases, but it was always a stressful trawl from one house to another, carting the presents to and from us and them, cast into cheap hotels often as not, as well as summers, and then we got back and found ourselves blackballed from all. Even excluded from family New Years Eve get-togethers. Beware of this if you are contemplating the expat life.
You are the reason my wife’s in therapy (Really? From abroad?) ; oh look, silly me, I missed your name off the Christmas card I sent (again); you can come but not into the house with your dog (he’ll have to wait in the car in minus temperatures then you can drive back the 180 miles); you are not allowed in our house (a door was actually slammed in the face of our seven-year-old visiting her cousins from over 200 hundred miles away); I never got your email so was not expecting you (yes you did!)… How did that all happen? And why? It is not as if there were no warm welcomes for any who would get a Ryan Air/Easyjet flight out to visit Slovakia or Jordan. People in the family may say things that upset each other, they may rely on you when they need it, but I was always brought up to believe that that is what families are for.
So now it is the 7th Christmas that still no-one will have anything to do with us and meanwhile it is for our daughter that I feel the most, because she has not the faintest idea that her family should be part of Christmas. Or indeed her life come to that. She has one cousin who must be two by now that we have never even been allowed to meet. We are banned from the house by my brother’s wife, my brother who we used to spend so many happy times with, with whom I travelled to Morocco, Zimbabwe, France etc… and used to go away with every Easter before her arrival; The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is our families. I wonder if it would be like this if our fathers were still with us? Nevertheless what has my nine-year-old done to deserve this?
Why the hell did we bother coming back? Whatever, the result is that it is another lonely Christmas of damage limitation with regard to our daughter, trying to play down the fact that she will not see any of the family we told her that we were returning to be near, and when all of her friends talk of cousins, uncles, aunts and grandparents, meanwhile Tash and I both freely acknowledge that we have actually grown to hate Christmases. They have been stolen away to replaced by times of pain, rejection. It actually started when we were still in Slovakia and suddenly found that there was nowhere to come home to. All I can say is that it would not have been the case had the roles been reversed. We even tried to invite people out for the white Christmas there.
How has anyone else’s family reacted to your working abroad, I wonder? Is this normal? Can’t wait until Iona (formerly Mollie – she changed her name to her middle name) doesn’t believe in Santa, then we will just go away for Christmas… But the hurt caused by the Grinch will not go away. I never thought I would get to hate Christmas, neither did Tash, but there you are. That is what they have done to our daughter, and that is how it has left us. Shame.