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You've heard the expression "blood is thicker than water" which means blood line and kinships are stronger than the ones we forge ourselves. But not many know the quote is more than the five words. "The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb” is the completed quote. And it loosely translates to "family ain't sh*t".

Christmas Eve was my favorite holiday for 80% of my life but these past few years have shown it's true colors. I loved the Christmas Eve traditions of the huge slideshow from the 1950's to modern day family photos. I loved the little girl cousins putting on a show / dance for the rest of the family. We do a giant Secret Santa and it's gotten to be a focal point. However, the more that I've grown up, I've realized that I've been the black sheep all along...and as a kid, teenager, or college student, was not doing anything to cause this.

I am the second oldest female in the group of fourteen cousins. And my sister is the eldest woman. There are three born in 1995, two of us in 1997, and one in 1998 to make up the oldest half of the group. We all grew up in the same zip code. We all grew up pretty close to each other, literally and metaphorically. However, we have much different past and current experiences with our extended family.

I was not leading the pack but I was the first to play a D1 sport in college, I was the first to get a Masters, and I was the first to travel internationally solo (and did it at 18, before college). I was the only one of the six who worked during the school year / had more than a seasonal, part-time job. But I was also the most lectured. I may have made mistakes, but I was living a very normal life for a teenager on Long Island. I was NOT the first to go to parties, I was NOT the first to drink, I was NOT the first to date. However, the world seemed to stop when I was the one enjoying the same activities as my peers and cousins. I would get lectured by Aunts and Uncles for my behavior while other cousins got to joke and drink Miller Lites. I was lectured for wearing makeup at 16 (and got comments on it Christmas Eve 2021 still). I've been lectured on posting with a red solo cup at 19 and for wearing crop tops at 16, but now that the "younger" girls are the same age - family party outfits show midriff and their Instagram's have High Noons. It's okay for everyone else, but not for me.

I am 26. I would not even think to comment negativity towards the younger half of cousins. It's not my place to tell them that they're...well, it's not my place to tell them anything. I'm not a parent and even if I was, they are not my kid to police. But if I was somehow compelled by a major force to give my opinion I would not think to do so via Instagram. But I've learned that not everyone has my same mindset, for better and for worse. Once again, I am 26. And I wouldn't comment on my 21 year old cousin's post anything but a cheeky remark or "aw, cute dress". But at 40-something adult would comment on my teenage self's EVERY post with "Get a job". It's odd, off-putting, not really funny at all, and it's ironic at the end of the day because like I've said, uh I was the only one with a job at the time.

I used to adore Christmas Eve because it was the one time of the year that the entire family would be together. We'd have six of Granny Lulu's children and twelve of the cousins. I'd be the one to FaceTime in the seventh sister and the last two cousins as the festivities happened. We'd have the whole Irish clan together. But now it just feels like a room full of the people who made me feel like I wasn't enough. I wasn't enough for an Aunt to connect me to a job that I really wanted. I'm not cool enough to be in the cousins group chat. I'm not right-winged enough to get a PBA card like everyone else (but this one just kinda makes me laugh).

As seen on by my digital footprint, I do not and will not hide what I am feeling. I'm okay that no one likes my tattoos. Or that I pierced my face. I'm okay that I'm not going to agree with the majority on a handful of issues. But I'd be lying if I said that I am okay with being on the outs. I'd be lying if I said I have peace or that I'm comfortable when my texts send out are ignored or the mass texts invites are sent to everyone but me. I'd be lying if I said that it rolls of my back that my mother's side is seemingly very close, and has not a second thought about me not being in the inner circle.

At the end of the day, I have to accept that nothing I did, do, or now DON'T do are going to change the minds of people who made them up a long, long time ago. I'm choosing the blood of the covenant over the water of the womb. Do I wish it was this way? Obviously not, but I'm no longer in the business of going where I do not feel welcomed. I'm not longer willing to be a piece in a puzzle for the sake of it. But anyway...Merry Christmas.

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