Monday, January 01, 2007

Roger's Sister

Roger’s sister, Tammy, and her family came to visit us from Seattle over Christmas. We love Tammy from 2000 miles away. As the movie, When Harry met Sally says, she is high maintenance. And I have noticed that most women that can be classified in this way don’t seem to mind. They know it. I guess that maybe it is us low maintenance kind of women that are somewhat bothered and bewildered by the whole process.

How long does it really take to get ready to go shopping? My entire family was up, dressed and had breakfast and on the road by 9am. On a work day this somehow occurs by 7am. We had a plan – see a movie at the Science Museum, get Roger’s hearing aid fixed and then head to the mall to return or try to return (look for a blog on this) some Christmas gifts. I called Roger’s mom from the mall at 1pm that day and they still had not left to go shopping as they had planned. Most of her day was gone. Her parents, as well as I, were baffled by this.

Is this how she really functions on a daily basis? Is she ever on time to work? She works the afternoon shift, so maybe this would explain her timetable.

We all want to be “normal” – whatever that means. But the reality is that we all have this distorted view of what that should be. John Ortberg has a book called “Everybody is Normal (until you get to know them)”. This book explains how we all have an “AS IS” tag. Some people, like clothing, have minor defects like an uneven seam or a missing button. Other people, (and I put myself in this category) have bigger flaws, like a missing zipper or having one pant leg longer that the other. The truth is, nobody is that “normal” that we all think that exists. We need to function in a world of “AS IS” people.

So, when I got married, I thought “Now this is a normal family”. The longer I function in this new set of family dynamics the more I realize that my family was not so weird afterall. Okay, so all of our flaws were very noticeable – but at least nobody was surprised at what they were getting. I have learned that in the Riesgraf family you don’t talk about anything bad – divorce, miscarriages, bad behavior by family members, etc. The flaws were to remain hidden – especially by those outside the family.

So, back to Tammy’s visit. We all brace ourselves for her visits. She often makes what could be an enjoyable experience very stressful instead. The world must revolve around her. We ended up spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day without her. They were supposed to leave Seattle Friday the 22nd but could not manage to get packed and ready to go until Sunday the 24th. We had a relaxing celebration without her.

She arrived with her family, husband and two daughters, on Tuesday the 26th. After they rested from 48 hours of driving, we celebrated Christmas together on Wednesday night the 27th. The girls, Caileigh and Courtney, are always such a joy to see. Dinner was good and I held my tongue while we opened presents. I discovered that the gift giving was all about her as well. It wasn’t really about receiving a gift that you really wanted/needed, but how the gift reflected on her – how much time she spent finding it, or the amount of money it took to buy it. She called tons of times about ideas for gifts for the kids – apparently they didn’t sound good to her, but my kids would have enjoyed those gifts much more than what they got. I held my tongue and said thank you. I did my best to not rock the Riesgraf boat of silence.

When we wanted her to open her gifts, she got very huffy. The strange this is that this part really is about her and she didn’t want to enjoy it. Maybe because the outcome was something she could not control. She could only receive what was given – kind of scary for a control freak.

They are on their way back to Seattle in the snow that almost got here. Our lives will return back to “normal” – whatever that is.

Thanks for reading


1 comment:

Cheri said...

I think every family has at least one person who thinks the world revolves around them. You're right, most of them know exactly what they're doing. In my family's case, my brother doesn't know. He just assumes certain things will happen - everyone's schedules will align with his during a visit, everyone will want to eat the same things and go the same places, and everything is always someone else's treat - not his.

Honestly, sometimes it's a blessing to live overseas away from family. Yes, it's easier to love some family from afar!