yeah I really dislike the holidays. I man REALLY dislike them. It seems so fucking pointless. All this shopping and decorating and the damn music. It really just gets me in the very worst of moods. Every year, one after the other. I start the season bitching just after Halloween when the christmas decorations make their appearance. I mean really? it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. So it starts. I bitch and carry on. This usually continues well past Thanksgiving and into mid december. I have a daily rant, normally brought on by someone’s lights on their house, or some store playing carols. It is everywhere. there is no getting away from it, short of finding some deserted island. I make my discontent known to just about anyone who might listen, even muttering at store displays. It is really quite amusing. Given the sheer amount of energy spent with this nastiness you’d think I would actually be able to keep it going thru new years. Nope, long about december 15 I will suddenly find myself humming christmas carols and pondering putting a tree up. Yeah I know, I’m jewish, but my family has always celebrated both since my mother was raised catholic. I cannot remember ever not having a tree, in some shape or form. During the strange years spent when my mother was MIA, my father would let me put tinsel on the potted palm tree that stay dejectedly in the corner of the livingroom in a perpetual state of chronic thirst. This went on for a number of years, well after the poor thing had died. There isn’t anything much more pathetic than a dead palm tree hung with silver strands of tinsel and a miscellaneous ornament or two. He would always laugh and call it our Chanukah bush.
When I moved north to my mother’s, Christmas was a long drawn out process. From selecting the perfect evergreen at the farm nearby, to the selecting of recipes to be cooked on Christmas day. It started before Thanksgiving. The hours spent out at that tree farm were fun. There were so many acres, so many trees. We would bring a saw and walk from field to field. Taking in each specimen and circling it looking for a flaw. A simple wood box was set out to collect payment. Not a person in sight. It was really neat. Once we cut it and dragged it home, it was time to stand it up and secure it. I can tell you that a tree out in a 50 acre field looks small untill you get it inside. I can’t tell you how many we had to trim liberally to get them to work in the house.There were a couple of disasters with falling trees, so it was a critical part of the process. My mom usually wanted it to stand undecorated for 24 hours, so it could settle and drop it branches in the heat of the room. I was always the one to place the lights. I am so anal, it worked out well. I carefully and painstakingly strung the lights. Not a single dark patch to be found. Finally it was ready to be decorated. My mom spent years collecting the most amazing things. From old German hand painted ornaments, to hand blown glass balls from France. Words can’t even describe the warmth and happiness I felt in those years of Christmas decorating with my mother. The old farmhouse would be strung with garlands and fresh-cut evergreen limbs. The Lalique nativity that she had dragged with her on every move since my father needed to be carefully unwrapped from its pale grey boxes. I loved the little donkey. He was my favorite of all the decorations. Christmas carols would be playing during all our decorating. I cannot begin to express how warm and comforting those years were. It was a time of happiness. I loved it, all of it. I think that love remains, just buried. It takes weeks of bombardment before I succumb to the spirit of the holidays. Under all that disdain and irritation is that same love. I lost some of that wonder and love the year I came undone the first time.. It just happened that everything came apart in the fall. Thanksgiving was spent not with family, but with a group of strangers. I know family did visit, but how can it ever be the same. It was so awkward and sad. Not just sad, it was gut wrenching. Most people long for that connection to loved ones, and the holidays that mark time shared. As the days passed and Christmas grew closer it just grew worse. By the time Christmas eve rolled around all of us shared the same feeling of loss. To not be able to spend Christmas around the family table is intensely painful. There was nothing the staff could do to make all of us feel any better. Not that they didn’t try. They did. There was no making it any better. I distinctly remember going from our unit to sing Christmas carols for the geriatric patients. Sad does not even come close to describing that experience. It was soul searingly depressing. Their faces still haunt me each Christmas. I can never get away from them. Each holiday since has been bittersweet. The days of happiness with my mother can’t make up for the years spent with that dead palm tree, or the night spent amongst the ghostly forms of elderly patients. When I think of Christmas that is what comes first. It seems quite natural to be anxious and sad each holiday given those experiences. I really don’t hate Christmas. No, I just hate the way it makes me feel.
This year, like all the ones before it, I will swear to myself I am not doing anything. No tree, no music, no lights. Nothing. Let’s see how long that holds up.