You do not have to celebrate holidays with family

Abbey Whittington, Columnist

With each passing holiday comes the strange feeling of choosing to stay at what I consider my current home: Charleston, instead of returning to what our townies like to call “Kankabourbly.”

The word combines three towns in which I grew up in: Kankakee, Bourbonnais and Bradley.

I have not celebrated Easter because 1. My immediate family and I are not religious and 2. I have not celebrated the holiday since I was a little girl.

But it is not the pastel holiday that has me reevaluating the feeling of choosing to stay in my apartment.

It is the general pressure of going home and being with said family during these days we have all marked in our calendar as time to spend together.

The idea of family is not a concept I have held dearly to my heart.

Not to be cryptic, but I learned at a very early age that the higher your expectations of certain family members, the higher your chances of disappointment.

For me, I find the large family gatherings of older Catholic women, the screaming spawns of Whittington descent and whispers of disapproval or family drama are all characteristics of an event I am more than happy to miss out on.

My wish for absence at family functions have deeper roots that run back to bad childhood memories, but in the present, I do not feel like plastering on a smile and talking about the good aspects of my life while they talk about the bad aspects behind closed doors, which have more to do with my father than me.

Of course, I have family members I do love and cherish. I have a huge family, and the list of who I am close with is much smaller than the number of members on both my mother and father’s side, and I am more than OK with that.

But the guilty consciousness I have on each holiday I spend away is one I never expect or invite. My family members and other people always ask me if I am coming home for holidays, and for the past year, I have only celebrated Thanksgiving with them.

Some would say this is selfish, but I have found that avoiding the dysfunction has been beneficial for my life, and probably my family’s life.

When I lived in “Kankabourbly” I was constantly arguing with my siblings, mother and especially my “father.” Even now when I come home to visit it only takes about 30 minutes max before my dad and I start arguing. Hot-headed is a perfect description for many of my family members and me.

Now that I moved away I feel like our relationships have progressed in a positive way, and although I am not a fan of the dysfunction we have all contributed to, it makes my family and me who we are.

But it is not always necessary to associate ideas of love and support through the superficial things like holiday gifts or just spending time together on a certain day of the year.

Sometimes space is what other families need to function and be happy.

Abbey Whittington is a junior journalism major and can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].