Ghost of Christmases Past
I hate the holidays.
For numerous reasons.
My parents divorced years ago, when I was around 12, and that is when my hatred of the holidays began.
Up until then, it had been presents, and aunts and uncles and cousins, and cinnamon applesauce salad, and grandmas and grandpa, and some damn ham, and crocheted ponchos for everyone. Except the boys, of course.
After the Big D, referred to as “A.D.” at our house, meaning “After Divorce”, everything changed.
A.D., we would spend Christmas Eve with my mom, and then my dad would pick us up on Christmas morning to take us to our grandma and grandpa’s.
I remember the sick feeling I’d get in my stomach at having to leave my mom home alone. I hated it, and would feel sad for her all day.
Even then I knew I never wanted to spend Christmas alone, while my imagined, future children went elsewhere, but oh, how things come to pass which we never expect.
Here I am, 30 plus years later, doing near the same thing: swapping holidays with my son’s father.
Every year, the closer it gets to the holidays, the more morose and irritable I seem to get. I want to skip them altogether and go straight to the New Year, because I’ve given up on trying to schedule time with my limited number of family members, whose schedules don’t ever jive, because of divorces and remarriages and extended families and step-families.
I realized this morning, I think this hatred derives from the fact I’m being eaten up with jealousy when the holidays roll around. I don’t have a husband, or a boyfriend, and my family seems scattered and all kinds of fucked up.
You sit over there with your Christmas card perfect spouse and kids, and their spouses, and maybe even a couple of grandkids running around at this point, and I hate you just a little bit.
I wonder why you deserve that family, and why I don’t.
All I ever wanted was to be a part of a big, loving family, and when I was really young, I thought that’s what I had. But then I grew up.
I grew up and discovered those types of families are mostly just myth.
Like unicorns, they don’t exist.
Families are messy.
Parents give each other the cold shoulder, or make biting comments about the others’ appearance, or sometimes have affairs they scream about during late night drunken fights, or god forbid over Thanksgiving dinner.
Siblings argue because they don’t like their sister’s choice in a mate so they refuse to sit down at the same table and dine with them, or you find out your brother had sex with your wife.
Kids grow up and are too busy to travel an hour or two to see their non-custodial parent, and when they’re forced to do it, they’re pissed off because they can’t be with their friends over Christmas break and they make everyone’s life miserable because of it.
And step-families become the first priority, and you will always have to take a back seat to their plans, and often figure out excuses not to attend combined functions because you don’t fit into their mix, and all you really want is just a few moments alone with your dad and your brother to make fart jokes and laugh.
Life in general, is messy, and fucked up, and complicated.
But right here, right now, I know this:
In 5 days I will drive to the airport to pick up my little boy, who now stands 6’2, and has a booming tenor voice, and who will soon be 15 years old, and in that moment, and the 10 days following that, I will be happy.
I will be happy because my boy is sleeping in his bed down the hall from me once again, and for 10 days, everything will be right with the world, regardless of what Christmas plans are made or kept, or how fucked up our family is.
I wish the same for you, and your fucked up family.
Peace on Earth and pass the vodka.