Damn, I need a cookie today. One of those nice Italian butter cookies with the sprinkles on top? The kind that are verboten at our house due to said brightly colored sprinkles? Sigh. Why do I want this cookie so bad??? I'm blaming it on Jen. She wants us to talk about forgiveness, which always makes me think of my very Italian, very grudge holding extended family. And they make me think of those cookies.
My childhood memories are filled with women sitting around tables, or at the stove, talking partially in Italian, and partially English (and me sitting under the table, eating cookies). And I wish I could say that I remember them saying nice, polite, happy things. But I don't. Because as much as they all loved each other, they were a tad vicious. Who had wronged who 20 years ago and still gets malocchio (look it up) at church. Who didn't go to who's wedding because they weren't speaking to this one or that one. Who had better not show up because of some minor wrong they had committed and not self flagellated enough to pay their penance in the eyes of my mother and her sister and sisters in law. You'd think they would get tired of it, but no. Fifteen years after she had moved out of their house, my mother still held grudges against her sister's in laws (people who took in my Mom and her younger brother when their parents died- and reminded her of it every day she lived there...) It's exhausting just to think about all the emotions wasted on past hurts. And you would think it would have ended with that generation, but nope, it didn't.
An abrupt turn in the story:
My brother has not spoken to my extended family in, hmmm, let's see now, almost 19 years. Yup, going on 2 decades. He lives down the street from my cousin. Does he pick up the phone? Reach out? Nope, it's like she's a stranger. Why? Because when my parents died he imagined some sort of slight against him from them. I can't even pinpoint what he thinks they did or said. Or maybe it's something they didn't do or say, who knows? No matter, he is completely uninterested in connecting with them. It kills me. He didn't go to his Godfather's funeral. Has ignored wedding invitations, calls, holiday gatherings. He would rather eat his Christmas dinner with a friend at a diner than let them back into his life. I would give my right arm to be close enough to see them regularly.
I used to wonder how he did it? How did he hold all that anger over "something" that happened almost 20 years ago? Ahhh, it's inherited. That ability to hold a never ending grudge is genetic (think Hatfields and McCoys). He gets if from my Mom. She was amazing at it. There was very little forgive and almost no forget in her world. Sigh. (and when it give it some thought, my ex was like this, too. well, that's not a shocker...)
I refuse to carry that on. Actually, I can't think of anything that someone has done so wrong to me that I would need to truly "forgive them". Little things here or there, but nothing that I would carry to my grave, certainly. So, I tend to just let it go. I might grump for a day, two at the most, but then I need to move on. I might decide that I need to remove myself from a situation, or let a friend slowly roll out of my life, but I never end things on such a sour note that I feel anger over it (and hopefully, they don't either...) My emotional tank needs to empty out the yuck and let in something better for it, I think. That's just how I roll.
How about you? Long standing feuds, or quick scapes and on to greener pastures?
For more takes on forgiveness and such, go see Sprite's Keeper and the other Spinners.