25 December 2011

I've Had Worse Christmases

That's going to be my mantra for today. Maybe not as catchy as "Peace on Earth, good will toward men" or even a simple "Merry Christmas", but if it works for me, why not? I decided not to go to the "family" gathering that has become the default Christmosity since the death of nearly everyone in my family. They're my bro-in-law's folk and I'm ashamed to say that it wasn't the racism, sexism, homophobia and rampant tea-party sentiments that kept me away (though those are huge negatives, I was nonetheless willing to sell my soul for dinner), nor even the questionable decision to serve Brunswick stew for the holiday meal, a dish I despise but would nonetheless eat, because hey, food. No, it was the pants.

Specifically, having none. I could hear the judgmentality in my sister's text reply when I indicated all I had to wear was flannel PJ bottoms. Oh, she wasn't the one being judgmental - she knows I'm poh, and I suppose she's used to my scummitude by now, but she was awfully quick to offer alternatives, like hanging out tomorrow and she'll cook for me (which is fine with me). And my PJs won't be a problem at her place, like they would obviously be to the tea-baggers.

So today will be a day of work, all day, because despite my waning hopes for an escape from this hole, some hope does still linger. I will write and keep writing until my fingers are cramped and my back aches because I don't want to lose the one opportunity I have for a home, and I'll pretend today isn't Christmas, a holiday that I strive to ignore every year anyway, a holiday I wish would go away because I'm not big on Jesus, or commercialism, or tacky decor or cheerful tinny music. But the wistfulness always creeps in, the memories of a time when this fucking holiday wasn't this hard, this deprived, or this lonely. There have been good Christmases, back when everyone was still alive. There were people, and there was love, and there was food, and there were pants (loosened at the waistband to accommodate the abundance of food).

I remember gathering at my great grandmother's house for Christmas dinner. Aunts, uncles, cousins all piled into the tiny white frame house on Log Cabin Drive and we would eat turkey and dressing, ham, butter beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potato souffle, squash casserole, cranberry sauce, that pink stuff that seems to have no name, fruit salad, and for dessert an assortment of pies, cakes, cookies and snacks. After everyone had their fill we'd gather in the living room where my uncle would play the ukulele and my aunt would convince everyone to dance barefoot on the rug. By the time we'd danced our food into digestion, it was off to see my dad's side of the family for more turkey, dressing, fixins, and desserts and cousins, aunts and uncles. We would arrive back home well after dark, exhausted and stuffed, and pass out from the overindulgence.

So I've had better Christmases than this one, no doubt, but I've also had worse. The winter after my dad died, the forced cheer, the sad smiles, the absence of his silly laughter. None of us really wanted to celebrate, but we did, for each other, for tradition, for a sense of normality. For him, because he would have wanted it that way.

Or the year I saved my last slice of bread so I could have toast for Christmas dinner. It snowed that year, and the heat and lights went out (thankfully not before I was able to toast my bread). I lay shivering and hungry beneath a blanket in the dark, sobbing and miserable.

But today I'll remember the good. Today I'm blessed. I have a candy bar and some Dr P, which is way better than a toasted end piece. I have good friends who care and I have the memory of a fun Tahitimas on Thursday night. I have fabulous cats who seem to enjoy the more commercial aspects of the holiday season. (Sorry Cleto, no iPad for you this year). I have work. I have hope for the future, and if it wanes, let it wane tomorrow - I'll sustain it for today.

I've considered turning off the manic Christmas cheer that has invaded Plurk, but I guess I secretly enjoy the happiness of others (shhh... don't tell anyone). I'm glad so many friends and acquaintances are blessed with family, food, and cheer this holiday season.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad, at least, to have had a tahitimas with you.