Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Schlumping Into the 21st Century

I confess I'm not hip or a cultural diva. I unplugged the TV when I got pregnant the first time. Quite often I'm years behind in my consumption of popular books and media, buying them when they reach the clearance table. It's possible I might recently have run up on some subtle change in cultural norms without realizing it. I'm not sure.

Last year my only sibling announced that she was getting married. As she was 37 and the marriage would be her first, this announcement seemed quite important. I immediately cancelled all our summer plans and began researching travel arrangements to California. We spent hours pouring over flight schedules, train schedules, and rental car schedules. Even more hours were spent on wardrobe considerations. Some of you who are on e-lists with me may remember my questions about California climate and customs.

For weeks we heard about her wedding dress, her new home and her new job. This spring I wrote to ask for the date and location of the wedding so we could make our travel arrangements. All of a sudden I heard, "Wedding? What wedding? We're not planning any wedding! Not really! Somebody gave you the wrong idea."

And so it went all summer. More plans were discussed, but whenever I asked for a date, all we got were excuses. We heard everything from, "We're not really getting married" to "We're getting married on top of a remote mountain after a hard climb and you wouldn't make it" to "We're getting married, but you can't afford to come." When I protested that we were willing to spend the money on such a special occasion, I was bluntly told, "So go to Disneyland."

Finally this week I got an email from my Mom saying that she was getting on the plane for my sister's wedding this weekend at some undisclosed location.

Now maybe the culture has changed so much in recent years that such behavior could be interpreted as something other than a snub. Maybe, but I don't think so.

I remember when a college chum showed up with a purple mohawk for her sister's wedding. The family just plonked a wig on her head and kept on going, and I'm nowhere near as extreme as that.

My sister's behavior was not entirely unexpected, but still puzzling. The new in-laws are Republican Baptists. Maybe I'm too liberal and too Pagan for them. But for crying out loud, they live in Santa Cruz. I'm sure they've seen people far more "out there" than I am. I guess I'm too poor or too fat or both.

My husband argues that my sister is somehow snubbing the groom more than she is snubbing our family. All I know is it hurts like the dickens. In that tried and true methods used by introvert throughout the world, I stuck my nose in a book and read until dawn last night to keep from crying myself to sleep.


Anonymous said...

What a rat! Such a thing would have thrown me into agonies - and they didn't even have the courtesy to tell you what was going on! (Not that such people ever DO. They consider it impolite or think it would Hurt Your Feelings or something. Grrrr....)

One hopes it was a good book.

Anonymous said...


JC from NC said...

If you missed some sea change in culture that would excuse such behavior; well, then so did I. I'm sorry your sister would chose to treat you so shabbily.

{{{hugs}}} indeed...

Lioness said...

Thank y'all. My husband has talked me out of any dramatic acts of retribution, on the grounds that the whole affair is building up such bad karma I don't need to be in the splatter zone. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who thinks the whole thing stinks.

Anonymous said...

No, Miss Manners would not find you behind-the-times. It is quite clear that your sister has severed ties, for, I can only assume, religious irreconcilable differences.

I do hope you get the opportunity to talk this over with your Mom, though. It is bad enough that your sister has excommunicated you, as it were; but your mother's actions indicate a certain level of complicity. I would like to think that, were I in your mother's shoes, I would not stand for such divisive behavior from one of my children. Family is family, after all. One member might walk away, if one's personal reasons are compelling enough; but that person is not granted the power to divide the rest of the family against itself. Your mother should have stood with you and declined her own invitation. At the absolute least, she should have insisted that your sister communicate her concerns with you directly and honestly.

It is good that you are trying to take a deep breath, forgive, and move on. She is already reaping the consequences of her decision (estrangement, which she has chosen, is no picnic). I'm sorry that she acted so poorly, and I hope she comes to realize her mistake without too much grief for either of you -- though, personally, I would forgive you if the next time you heard her voice on the phone, you failed to resist the temptation to mutter under your breath, "Sister, who?"

Anonymous said...

Okay, I have to amend that. Maybe she really doesn't want to sever ties, but just found you too difficult and potentially embarrassing to explain to the new in-laws. (You heathen, you! Maybe the in-laws are part of the Teacher's Union, to boot?)

If so, she owes you an immediate and detailed explanation, and a BIG apology. If neither is forthcoming, it would not be irrational of you to assume estrangement is indeed her choice, and carry on with your life accordingly.

And again, Mom has some explaining to do, too.

emily pound said...

it's none of my business unless you choose to divulge this, but this makes me wonder what your relationship with your sister was like before this happened. Have you always had a difficult relationship? A lot of sibling rivalry? That's the only explanation I can think of to sort of explain her bizarre behaviour.

And your mother ... I suspect you have a lot of drama going on in your family. I certainly haven't had a great relationship with my mother, and my relationship with one of my brothers is definitely on the "walking on eggshells" side.

I'll tell you what a Life Coach recently told me: "Remember ... it's NEVER about you. It's ALWAYS about them." Your sister did what she did for her own particular reasons. Maybe she's secretly jealous of you and your life and this is her way of "getting back" at you. The point is, SHE is the one responsible for her choices, not you. You did not "make" her do this to you.

You have what sounds like a great husband and kids. Rejoice in that.


DebiMcK23 said...

I am so sorry to hear about the pain your sister has caused you. I have a "unique" relationship with my brother and his girlfriend/fiancee. They have talked about getting married (3rd for her, 1st for him) in Scotland, and her children ages 22, 20 and 13 would be the only people in the wedding party. Maid of honor, best man and "father of the bride" My little man, who is just 4 and is my brother's godson would not be included. i am not even sure they would want him at the wedding... In fact, I am not sure she would want me at the wedding... but I would hope my brother would insist on my being there... I feel like a wedding is a source of joy and I wanted to share my wedding with as many people as possible, so I can't understand why other's don't feel that way. I feel sorry for your pain, but I also feel sorry for your sister who doesn't have enough love in her heart on her wedding day to include her flesh and blood. I am an Atheist who was forced to baptise my son by my dying 90 year old grandmother, but I did it for her sake because I loved her. I can understand feeling family pressure to conform (and I will blame ppd for giving in) Keep your head up high and decide if you want to include your sister in your life from this moment forward.