My First Green Christmas

I’m not quite sure how to start my post tonight. It’s my first night home in my bed after over a week spent at my parents place. I’m really quite surprised I survived. Normally I’ll go over for a single night on a weekend or something and need to be out of there ASAP. But thanks to my meds I guess, I made it through the week.

New things are always difficult for people, change is challenging. I certainly got some firsthand experience with this from my family and close family friends this Christmas. The Saturday before Christmas my parents had their neighbours over, a family we’ve known since I was about 5. Conversation got a bit heated at one point in the kitchen while we were nibbling; I was being asked about the housing conditions of dairy cows and poultry RE my decision to stop all animal product consumption. It was going so-so, but the father of the family challenged most of what I said. He knows a lot more about farming than I do, having grown up with a Mennonite family on a farm. He had selective hearing when I was trying to point out the fact that whatever experiences he had on his small family farm approximately 40 years ago are drastically different from where their food is actually coming from now.

My father also tried to argue that there was some degree of ethics in slaughterhouses by stating that the deaths that take place in nature by natural predators can be a lot more drawn out and painful than being slaughtered. I tried not to appear too upset while potentially forcefully reminding him that depending on the animal being slaughtered, they might be hung upside down by their feet before hand. The sheer terror of that ought to be considered very unethical without even taking the physical pain of it into account. I also reminded him that machines don’t take terror and the will to live into account, and that more often than they’d think, the blade misses in the first stage and the poor things go onto whatever else is next before their suffering finally ends. I don’t think he was really listening.

The kicker for the night happened after I was already primed by these two events as well as listening to someone complain about how they had been eating dry chicken because they hadn’t noticed the plumb sauce on the table. We’d moved to the couch and comfy chairs and we’d had a glass of wine or two. I forget exactly how it came up, but the mother of the family was basically complaining at me looking for me to take her side about some story about an encounter with a “crazy vegetarian” she had had at a party of some sort. This woman had yelled at her for eating an egg salad sandwich at some function that had sandwich platters, saying she was eating the vegetarian food. Granted, yelling typically isn’t the best way to start a dialog, and usually doesn’t make you very likable, but most omnivores are not really willing to think about this sort of thing. But this isn’t the main event, the main event stems from a miscommunication that lead to a disagreement. I thought she had said that for this event they had been surveyed for their eating habits, not unlike a wedding RSVP or something of the sort. I made it clear that I believed that if you were asked ahead of time what you ate, that you had to stick within that guideline even if it’s not a sit-down meal where a plate is placed in front of you.  You wouldn’t go to a wedding having said you’d like to eat chili that night and decide there that you actually want the lasagna and expect for that to work. I don’t even know exactly what happened, but soon her, my dad and my brother were all very loudly disagreeing with me and I basically felt like they were saying they thought anyone was entitled to eat any food even if it meant that I ended up not having enough available to me because I made the choice to not eat those other things… I assume you can understand how upsetting this would be to me. So I left and went to my room and ended up sobbing. Apparently they heard me and had an awkward moment afterwards. My mom had been in another room not really paying attention to the conversation but came to my room with her doggy for comfort when she heard me crying.

The only really notable even from Christmas Eve at my boyfriend’s house was that his family was talking with me about things generally and the “plants feel pain too!” argument/joke came up…  thankfully the conversation didn’t get too heated. All in all… his family is a lot nicer to me than my own. His mom used my becel in stuff so I would be happy eating it, and left the cream out of my bowl of the delicious soup that she made. She even went as far as to get me a vegan baking cook book, some baking ingredients I might need, and chocolate bars from whole foods. That night was the single best night of the holidays.

Christmas day, while not as bad as the preceding Saturday, was certainly not as pleasant as Christmas Eve. My mom had made me chili to take to my grandmas to eat (my mom has been amazing about feeding me, I do understand how lucky I am to have that and I think my next post will look at that more) but I had been waiting to eat it because I had wanted to be polite and sit at the table with everyone while they ate their meal. I was really hungry by this point, actually had a headache for over half an hour leading up to this point. They were cutting up their bird carcass, which I was “lucky” enough to get to see quite a bit and all spread out………… when they noticed that it wasn’t cooked enough so they were putting slices of it in the microwave to cook them faster. They took the plate out and said they were done so I put my chili in to warm (using a paper towel to cover it rather than the plastic cover they had just removed from the full plate) when my grandma decided that the turkey on the plate wasn’t warm enough whereupon she decided to take my food out of the microwave instead of waiting the minute left on the timer. I don’t really know how to interpret that any way other than “you are less important than us” so obviously I was hurt by this. But it passed. When I was finally able to put it back in, my great aunt asked me why I was eating chili. I told her I wasn’t eating meat anymore. She said “a little meat won’t hurt you.” I said it’s not me I’m worried about hurting.” At which point my grandma chimed in “All right, that’s enough, don’t be bringing that up!” I confusedly said I didn’t bring it up, I was answering my aunts question (EXTREMELY mildly, might I add) but my grandma proceeded to yell at me anyways and I just couldn’t take it so I ran away to cry again. Merry Christmas indeed. My grandma came banging on the door a little while later saying she needed to go to the bathroom, but then grabbed my shoulders and trying to talk to me when I opened the door. I told her that wasn’t going to the bathroom and went into her bedroom to be alone instead. It was quite a while before I was able to come out, and I was incredibly worried my family thought I was crazy.

I’m finding it’s not so much what people say that’s getting to me… it’s how they say it. I feel ganged up on, bullied, ignored, talked at, less than. I feel challenged from every angle almost all the time. I have really great debate skills, I am excellent at making a point and challenging people to think. But I feel like I’m being denied the opportunity to actually dialogue with people. It’s incredibly disrespectful and something I have a lot of trouble with.

I feel the need to end on a good note though. Yesterday was the Christmas gather for my dads side of the family. I have issues with my dad, but I find his family a lot smarter and … better … than my mom’s half of the family. I tend to have more in common with them. A cousin of mine on his side is vegan too, so seeing her yesterday was really helpful for me. Her mom had made sure that we had lots of things available to us to eat and I really felt included. I need to find myself a bit of a community that gives me that feeling.

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