Holidays, up until the last two or three years, have always been very special to me and my family: high holy days with the church, and days of connecting and celebrating with family. But recently it seems there has been an attack upon the holidays, to negate their uplifting and special status in the calendar of the church and of the family with us, to make them no more special, and even to make them dreaded events in the calendar year.
I thought that perhaps this trend had taken a turn for the better after our leaving woke Avondale United Methodist Church for Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (which definitely has the woke wandering among it but has so far not let them discriminate against us). This hope, supported by Gloria Dei this Easter when we heard a “The Lord is Risen”, replied to with a resounding “He is Risen Indeed”,response from the congregation,. took a major pounding by the familial response I am now calling “The Easter (pa)Raid”.
Family holidays here in Missouri have usually been times of extended family gatherings, where one of the three family centers would host the other two for an extended gathering. But the Covid response (not Covid itself, let that be clearly stated and understood) showed a clear rift in the family fabric, and it became Very Clear to Rhodri (myself) and Jasini (my wife), that we were not seen as equal to the other two thirds of the extended family. Receiving invitations to family gatherings that included qualifiers that tacitly excluded our attending were but one of the most early signs that our hosting any future gatherings would not be considered appropriate.
Thus we received no invitations to Easter this year, nor sent any. Since our daughter currently resides with her maternal grandparents, we decided with her on Saturday, while attending opening day at Worlds of Fun (amusement park) that we would go with her brother (our son and second child), to Worlds of Fun early for Easter lunch, spin up from there to visit her and her grandparents (after they presumedly had already eaten the ham lunch daughter told us they would be having), and after sharing some socializations with the parents take daughter back to our place for socialization with her brother and the now ailing family dog (giving her time with him before he passes away sometime probably within the next year).
Instead, on the way there, after having left the park having eaten, we found out from the daughter that the parents had not even started their meal, and upon arriving that it might be an hour or more until they ate. So we went in to socialize and to suggest a revision to the schedule.
Once the confusion was understood by the parents, Jasini presented a clear suggested solution to the situation, agreement with which would allow us to spend some time socializing with the parents both then and later. We would talk to them now, then leave for home to let them enjoy their lunch together, and when they were done they would bring daughter down to our place, where we could socialize more with them and when they left take daughter to the park for her evening meal.
This had to be communicated to the parents three time, the third time after the mother said she wasn’t getting it, and after saying she did understand it, insisted that the most important thing was for the daughter to spend time with us, and thus she must go to our house immediately to be with us, and thus, tacitly, to go hungry until we went back to the park sometime after 4 p.m. This despite Jasini’s clearly stating that we wanted the daughter to enjoy a ham lunch with her grandparents first, and that the parents were invited to stay and chat with us for awhile when they dropped the granddaughter off at our place.
A clear undercurrent of their intransigence was that for some reason the parents did not want to come to our place at all that day. This point is very important, when viewed in the light of what happens later.
Thus the four of us headed back to our place, the daughter having eaten nothing. We shared some time together with the daughter, I showed her some of the improvements going on here at At The Rainbow, and while I was puttering at one of them she left me and went inside. The brother went to bed so he could sleep before his nightly work shift, and when Jasini came out to assist me, the daughter was left alone with the dog. She apparently heard something in my conversation with Jasini, that, taken out of context, made her decide to call the grandparents and ask them to pick her up.
I don’t know if this was the intent of the grandparents, nor if they had said anything to her before she left to encourage this. I only know that they showed their reluctance to come to to our place that day when they arrived. They didn’t pull up to the house, they didn’t say anything to us. They snuck up to the house slowly in their car, didn’t announce themselves, wouldn’t even say hello to me when I came out to speak to them briefly before they left. FIL crept the car slowly across the driveway (the shared driveway), blocking the ability of anyone from either house to get into or out of the driveway, but turned into the driveway not at all. And when I attempted to talk to the MIL, she put her hand up to the window, and both of them looked away and would not face me directly. They came and went like thieves in the night as if stealing our daughter away from us.
Jasini, in one sense, was devastated by her parents reactions, and yet in another, it was just like business as usual. “They haven’t listened to me once in my life” she noted, which she immediately followed with “there is considerable hyperbole in that statement,” yet the initial statement, while not factually true, did correctly reflect the emotional feeling, the deep emotional feeling, which she had to their action, and to the way they have listen to her and almost seemed to intentionally misunderstand her over the years.
Her parents in recent years have often wondered why they have not heard about certain events in her life. They do not know that she long ago put them on her Facebook “restricted list,” so they only see public Facebook postings, and she vary rarely posts anything publicly. She did that so she doesn’t have to “defend myself against things that I haven’t said.” For such highly educated people as they are, her doctorate father and master’s mother have a distinct ability to misread anything she says about herself. And since both Jasini and I are highly educated in writing and communications I can confirm that there is no ambiguity in what nor how Jasini states things when they misread it.
So her parents were not willing to visit her at her home on Easter, but were willing to come like thieves in the night to steal away our daughter from us and promulgate slurs against me in particular.
Seeing them come, and then not even being willing to talk to me, I made a statement to them then that they doubtless either did not hear or are misreporting now, so I will clarify it here for the record.
I said that they would not be allowed back at our house unless they came with an apology for how they had treated both me and Jasini, and that I would not be seen at their place (I made no comment about Jasini on this one), without that apology.
I have taken a long time to write this, a deep need to get it out, crippled by a deep antipathy to say anything so pointed and seemingly condemning (it is always my deep desire to see and seek understanding). At one point I was ready to actually name the FIL and MIL, which I decided not to. The desire to name them was because they have been able to hide behind their anonymity as they have done these deeds to me and their daughter for years, yet, now hoping that this is enough to finally get through to them how blinded and blinkered they have been in what they see and hear and understand about us.
Both Jasini and I have rankled over the years by the statement “well you need to understand how they feel.” This is not just with her parents, but in a lot of other situations. It always seems we need to understand how other people feel, need to step back and take that reflective moment, but no one, it seems, is ever counselled that they need to do that for us. Can’t for once (hyperbole here again) can’t it be someone else’s turn to do the understanding?
Or better yet, can’t both sides do the understanding at once. I can assure you that if the other side does it, they will find that our side has already been doing it for a long time. It is the thing that cripples us most from making the response that people often credit to us that we haven’t done, because of course we must have done it or thought it, because they would have. Does no one understand compassion any more?