Ho ho ho

7 Dec

For the first time ever, the holidays are really pissing me off. I want to trample the people who get in my way looking at window displays. I want to smash their lights, pull down the tinsel, scream it’s all a lie and go hide under my blankets until January. I think I’m putting on a pretty good front, with the merry-making. I’m crafting, we have a tree up, I’m constructing presents. I’ve gotten the Santa and Elf hats for the dogs out. I’m really not here to wreck anyone else’s good time. I’m just not feeling it.

Holidays meant so much to me when I was a child. Like most every family, it was a time we all came together. Everyone would bring a dish, there were never enough chairs or matching plates. My grandma’s house was too small, overheating easily and sending us out in the snow. We’d exhaust ourselves, stuff ourselves, and end up napping in odd places. Other than the ritual of coming together, we had zero traditions or cultural practices to trot out, but everything still felt special. As if we’d come up with someone no one else had.

My sophomore year of college, my grandmother passed away. As the story so often goes, she was the lynch pin that was holding everyone together. My mom and her siblings squabbled about money and inheritance, hurt feelings and unfairness. We never really came together again. Gossip reigned supreme, no one appeared to like anyone anymore, and we split off. Farther down the line, my parents broke up, further crumbling my sense of family security and cohesiveness.

Now I have a husband and dogs and a small tree. I call people, wish everyone well, make apologies we can’t all be together. We sometimes make a dinner, but we more often don’t bother. A day is a day is a day. May as well make a pizza. Nothing sparkles. It’s part of growing up, sure, but it’s more my extended (and nuclear) family falling apart. Segmenting and forming factions and driving each other away. Leaving us separated, alone. Scattered pinpoints of light that don’t even come close to their prior glory.

I know this is the time to make our own celebrations and traditions, to begin to build our own cohesive family unit. I feel frustrated though, because really all I want is the past. My grandma’s house, her funny ceramic tree with the moveable lights. Portioning out the leftovers into her ridiculous little microwaveable TV trays. I never knew where she got those. The overwhelming press of people and love and togetherness.

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if I’m missing the holidays as they were, or just my grandma. The fact that the last time my entire family felt secure, she was here heading it up. She kept us all in line, in mind of the things that were truly important. So what would she do if she were here? She’d tell me to straighten up, get the sour look off my face, and try and have some fun. Probably a good idea.

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2 Responses to “Ho ho ho”

  1. squirrel circus December 7, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    Even though our small extended family is still close, there are times that it’s hard not to divide time into before my dad passed away (twelve years ago) and after. Things are never the same, but you’ve already got some great new traditions going — your fabulous handmade cards and gifts will put a lot of smiles on the faces of the friends and family lucky enought to get one, and I bet the dogs rock their hats!

    • Cally December 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

      Thanks. 🙂 The dogs are quite charming in the hats, if a little grumpy. I think it’s easy to divide life into before and after a ton of things, but the passing of someone important really sticks a pin in that point in time.

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