That you don't want to spend next Christmas with him?
My dad asks me a few days ago if I want to go to Jamaica for Christmas next year(this year?). Every other year, my dad and my stepmom's family travel to Jamaica for Christmas, usually staying for about 10 days. The plans are being made now to save money, so I had to make a decision.
The problem is, I really don't want to go to Jamaica. I've been there before, for a Christmas three years ago, and I've rarely had a more uncomfortable experience. Told him tonight that I didn't want to go to Jamaica. I feel awful, since I think I might have really hurt his feelings.
Part of the reason I don't want to spend Christmas with him is that it's not really Christmas with my family, it's with my stepmom's family. Kristen married my dad when I was thirteen, and I've never really thought of her as family. We get along fine, but she's no more a member of my family than one of my coworkers would be. I like her family alright, but, again, this is Christmas, and I have trouble with the idea of spending time with her family over my own--particularly my aging grandparents.
The other part of it is that Jamaica made me feel really uncomfortable about being white. And being American. And having money.
The place we stayed the time I went was a gated community of rentable or timeshare houses on the water. The house we got had at least a servant and a cook that lived in the nearby town. This made me feel deeply uncomfortable. I have no social tools for dealing with people in servile roles, especially ones so personal as those. I found myself spending a lot of effort avoiding situations where I be in their presence. I spent a lot of time reading. It seemed like a waste of both a good Christmas and a very expensive plane ticket.
It wasn't just that, I had trouble interacting with a lot of the Jamaicans because I felt like I was always being "served", without an honest equitable exchange. I felt like I was living in a throwback to a colonial state. I felt somehow racist. I'd rather not repeat the experience.
Anyway, I have no idea how to tell that to my dad without really hurting him. I can't say, "I don't want to go to Jamaica with you because Kristen and her family aren't my family, and last time I went to Jaimaica, I felt racist." At least I can't say it without opening up a whole discussion which will end with me in tears and at least Kristen mad at me. On the other hand, my attempts to deflect my dad's queries about why I didn't want to go were pretty poor.
Ugh. I wish people popped out of eggs and had to fend for themselves until adolesance.
Posts: 903 | Registered: May 2003
| IP: Logged |
WP, can you say something like, "I really want to spend Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa (or whatever you call the relevant grandparents). But I'd love to visit you on New Year's (or some other time that you'd like to suggest)"?
Posts: 32919 | Registered: Mar 2003
| IP: Logged |
Are the grandparents his parents or your mom's parents? I'd just emphasize that you didn't enjoy Jamaica very much last time you went. He doesn't need to know the reasons why, just that you have experienced it and you didn't like it. I don't know how old you are now or if you are married. Are your parents divorce or is your mother departed?
Posts: 2010 | Registered: Apr 2003
| IP: Logged |
quote:See, I have heard that the locals are awsome, and that it is a wonderful place to visit because of their friendliness.
I have no doubt that they are. In fact, I'd like to go back there with two friends and travel the country for a month or two after school.
What bothers me is the dichotomy between me, the white American, "rich", tourist, and the people I most-often came in contact with. It made me uncomfortable and sad.
Rivka: That's a really good idea. Thanks.
MT: My parents are divorced. The grandparents are those of my mother. They're both very old, and I've been so busy with school and other things that I havn't spent nearly enough time with them--not nearly enough, and not as much as when I was a child.
The only impediment to Rivka's idea is that my dad might take it that he thinks my mom will be upset if I don't spend Christmas with her and her family. The tradition since I was 12 has been to alternate years, which is stupid, IMO, and plays into it very little. Unfortunately, my parents tend to believe the worst of each other.
I think I agree with MT. Focus on the fact that you didn't enjoy Jamaica last time, tell him that it's not personal but that you'd rather do something different this time. He can then decide on his own and without pressure whether spending time in Jamaica or spending time with his child is more important.
Another possibility that I just thought of, and assuming you have reached adulthood, what about telling everyone that it's time for you to make your own traditions and while you appreciate everyone's time and efforts, their traditions and the split-holiday agreements just doesn't fit with your desires?
Posts: 4515 | Registered: Jul 2004
| IP: Logged |