So, sweeping changes in my life have taken me away from my blog, my writing, my self-expression. New job, changes in nearly every aspect. Finally! Thanksgiving weekend with no commitments. I sit down to write and the “I” key on my laptop decides it’s had enough.
See, my 50th birthday was a high. The first birthday party I had in 43 years. Other years, no one came, no one gave a shit. I was just getting older with no real connections. This year, all the right people – the dearest ones to me – showed up and showed out and ate with me.
I was OWNING the big five o!
And then here come the holidays. I know I am more fortunate than most people. But I have this nasty, needy inner child who can be a little shit around the holidays. People have families and expectations and older grown ups and generational traditions. And co-workers and friends spill out grand plans and stressful scenarios. And I go quiet.
I am an only child. All my older grown ups are dead. I have great memories, but who cares about that? This is talk of the present. This is anticipation, not nostalgia. I find a way to be busy, to leave the room if possible.
Because I am the grown up. Because I will not see another familial gift. My son is 20, but he has Asperger’s Syndrome. I will not force him to give me things or buy me things. He has shown compassion and empathy for others – that is my gift. My mother has been gone seven years. Grandpa Alvie passed in 1997, Grandma Lil in 2001. I am the Last of the Green Mohicans.
I KNOW! I have a boyfriend. He is brilliant and loving and finds ways to show his appreciation every day. And I am thankful to have found someone to grow older with. It only took me 45 years to have this great love.
I KNOW! I have a new meaningful, heart-level job. I have hot running water, electricity, a decent place to live and a super dog.
But I hate the holidays.
I disappear. I avoid people. I am jealous that they have parents. I am envious of familial connections that I wasn’t able to have. There is always opportunity to pretend. To fake my way into the lives of other people or relatives – but it’s not who I am. I don’t go out and I don’t drink and I don’t commingle with old acquaintances. I don’t crash parties.
I am trying like hell to involve myself in the social events at work. My co-workers are amazing people. I will never know if they genuinely like me.
I don’t envy people their possessions. I am happy when they are delighted. I learned the old Whoville lesson a long time ago: Christmas does not come from a store.
I understand that I might sound like a needy child here. And I have been. And we have all been at some point in our lives. There are a lot of people out there like me, who for some reason – tragedy or estrangement or sheer awkwardness, will be or feel alone during the holidays. They will be told to be thankful and make merry by others. They will be asked about plans and presents and naughty and nice. They will never be asked about loneliness or darkness or the Walgreen’s tree they just could not put up.
I get you. I will hold space in life’s web and think of you all season. I will hope you reach out if there is too much or not enough. Ask for what you need. Insist on Hope. Get through it.
For everyone else with buckets of aunties and loads of nephews, with oodles of parents and grandparents, with a sleigh full of cousins, treasure them. Even the ones that annoy or anger or embarrass you. Participate, love, cherish, and be silly with them. We are finite. And you are not guaranteed another opportunity to make a loved one laugh. You are not promised another hug or a gift for next year. Be kind.
Like the Spirit of Christmas Present, we will only have this Christmas one time.
For me, I bought myself a ten dollar plug-in keyboard. I had to find the “I” again so I could write. I had to find me and the “I” lost amid holiday chaos. “I” is in the very center of my keyboard, steady and peaceful. Ready to be tapped as needed to represent.