Seeing as there was no way for me to avoid seeing my step-sons the day after Christmas, other than to simply leave the house (and my husband would have been upset if I'd made such an obvious display of my resentment toward them), I had to grit my teeth and accept it. That didn't mean I had to enjoy it or participate in the visit except to the very minimum that I could manage. I conspired to spend most of their visit in my bedroom, doing things on the computer or reading.

I didn't know how I was even going to manage to pretend to be friendly when I had to speak to them. I'm usually pretty good at pretending, having been brought up in community theater and drama classes. My emotions were too on the surface this time for me to pretend without feeling like I was betraying my own feelings to a huge degree. I might have done it when I was younger (and often did, having been raised to always act pleasant, no matter what), but as I got older, I was less willing to be anything but true to myself. This was not going to be a fun time for me.

So they arrived: my two step-sons, the youngest one's wife, and their son. I stayed in my room as long as I could, until my husband called to me to come say hello to them. I did, but I didn't smile. They hugged me, and I half-heartedly hugged back, not putting any feeling into it. We made some small chit-chat, where I kept my words short and didn't make eye contact. The feeling of wanting to get away from them was so strong.

My four year old step-grandson was cute, though, and sweet, so that brought some pleasure to the proceedings. I imagined my own child at that age and couldn't wait for it to be a reality. My youngest step-son and his wife had gotten pregnant accidentally, and very young, and I wasn't sure they really realized the true blessing they had with their sweet child.

As soon as the group's attention turned back to my husband, I slipped off back into my bedroom, where I stayed for the remainder of the visit. I said goodbye when they left, and breathed a sigh of relief. They were gone, I wouldn't have to see them again for probably quite a while, and that was good. I determined that this was the last Christmas I would have without a child of my own. Next Christmas, I promised myself, I would be pregnant or already have a baby. Then everything would be okay and what my step-sons thought or didn't think about me wouldn't matter at all.