I have been MIA lately in part due to end of year work craziness and in part due to the sad events happening in our country over the past few weeks. So much to say on the latter issue, but so many have already said it and not all of them were insane. Yes, I'm looking at you, NRA. Which may stand for "Not Rational Assholes."
You may have noticed that Christmas is nearly here and I think we already finished with Chanukkah? Whether religious or not so much, most of my friends lean towards the Christmas celebration variety so I'll just be generic and talk Christmas.
My biggest work deadline is December 31 and this is my ninth go-round with that. The work obligations have caused Christmas to become, for me, somewhat inconvenient and now I barely register its passing. My Christmas for the past few years is me having a rare December day home from the office. I hopefully sleep in, then make a favorite breakfast -- usually eggs benedict, I know, you're so surprised. Eventually I remember to open my presents. If I actually have any. Some times I don't, other than what we exchanged at work and we usually open them before Christmas. When I had dogs, I would get them something because they were pretty funny about presents; after one banner year they were convinced that anything that had to be unwrapped was for them. I call family and close friends. I watch TV or movies or read a book. I usually make something special for dinner, and eat it alone, then watch TV or movies or read a book until bed. I don't stay up late because I have to be back in the office the next day. Even if that next day is a Sunday.
Christmas is generally a nice day for me.
This bugs some people.
I think it's because many, many people have nice Christmas holiday memories. Growing up, Christmas was a big deal in their family. There are traditional dishes, often with that family's twist. They watch or play football, or watch the Christmas movie that they have to all watch together each year. Opening presents is fun and there are a lot of laughs. Every one sits around the dining room table and eats and talks and is happy.
Yeah, that wasn't my house.
Before I was about eight, my grandparents lived nearby and we did the family Christmas thing after opening our own presents at home that morning. The cousins would play together. When I was about eight, my grandparents moved far away, one uncle joined a cult and largely disappeared for about 30 years, my aunt got divorced and moved away, my other uncle probably ran for the hills, and my parents got divorced although my mom kept my dad's parents (these particular grandparents).
After the divorce, I got a stepfather and 30+ years of verbal and emotional abuse. It was fun. The first few Christmases, I don't know maybe he was trying to be on his best behavior, so they weren't so bad. But they quickly evolved in to this:
I would either get yelled at for waking them up too early, or, in later years, yelled at for being asleep when they (he) got up. We would open presents, to a steady stream of "you're lazy, you're undeserving, you're spoiled" and so on. These are a few of my favorite things! After presents, he'd make breakfast for us. Always with home made hash browns. With onions in them that I can't eat because they make me sick. Feel that Christmas spirit! My mom and I would eat breakfast in the breakfast nook together. He ate off the coffee table on the sofa, just generally being in a piss poor mood and watching the first of our traditional Christmas movies in our rec room. Which involved lots of blood, death, and ammunition. Usually Chuck Norris or Stallone in the jungle. Meanwhile, I'd be off on the other side of the house in the living room, reading whatever book I'd gotten for Christmas that morning. As we moved towards the afternoon, I would get yelled at for being lazy and to get off my fat ass and go help my mom make dinner. Occasionally I'd try to point out the irony of whether he had a fat ass too because he was on the sofa watching TV. It usually didn't go over very well. My mom and I would usually eat dinner together at the breakfast table. You can guess where my stepdad was.
The epitome of our family Christmases came when I was in maybe my junior or senior year of high school. I was in the kitchen, which overlooked our sunken rec room. That day's Christmas movie was the one where the Viet Cong or whomever get Chuck Norris and hang him by his feet. They grin fiendishly as they tie a burlap sack over Chuck's head, inside of which is a very large, very live rat. Apparently the rat is supposed to eat Chuck's face off and kill him, but nobody told the rat because Chuck jerks and writhes and then a big blood stain appears on the side of the bag as Chuck goes still. They pull the bag off of Chuck's head..... to find that Chuck has killed the rat by biting through its jugular.
Because I love you, I am posting it so you can share in the Christmas spirit.
Note where they poke the rat first with a stick to get his little rat temper going!
This is the point at which I start laughing -- maniacally, not fiendishly -- and saying 'MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!' and 'FEEL THE LOVE!!!' over and over. My mom is laughing too, and my stepdad looks up at us and is all "What?" And I'm "Seriously? It's Christmas. And Chuck Norris just bit the head off a live rat! What is wrong with you?" And he's still "Huh?" So my mom points out that he is always in a bad mood on Christmas, to which he says he's not, and I'm over there going "LIVE FUCKING RAT." So he turns that off and puts in one of our other traditional Christmas movies. Which would be the Die Hards or the Lethal Weapons (they take place at Christmas). And I'm okay with those. In fact, that's often still what I watch on Christmas. And I will say he was a little better after that in later Christmases. Maybe in part because now I'm just not there for them.
Anyhow, the point is that Christmas has never been a big deal for me. I wish some times I had the big rat-free family gathering and stuff. A lot of friends do invite me over to spend Christmas with them. But they've all got their own dramas going on, whether overtly or just under the surface, and if I don't have to deal with my own family drama I'm not going to trade it for theirs. Because I don't do under the surface and some times that creates tension. For them. For me, not so much.
Because you've got to do something pretty spectacular to top Chuck and the rat.
Here's wishing everyone a safe, secure, and very merry Christmas. I will be at home, doing whatever it is that strikes my fancy.
Or, as I like to call it, Tuesday.