I don’t know about you all, but I’m not really feeling the holiday spirit this year. Maybe it’s the recession. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a job. Maybe it’s because the stores have been playing Christmas music since before Halloween, and I can’t stand another alleged “holiday sale” circular in my Sunday paper.
Also, Christmas has been hard for me since 1993. That year on Christmas Day, I lost a dear aunt to cancer. In some ways I’ve never mourned the loss. Instead of attending the funeral, I was in the hospital with my mother who died 2 months later – to the day. Obviously I miss them both terribly during the holidays. Growing up, my family came to our house for Christmas and that tradition was put to rest along with Mommy. Consequently I feel a little homeless during the holidays, fighting competing urges to be super-festive and to seclude myself at an ashram in India until the Rockefeller Center tree has been taken down. You’ll note that there’s no happy medium between these options. Such is my life.
As an only child with no babies, no husband, and a Dad who lives across the country, every year I fake the holiday spirit to the best of my ability; the moments of pseudo-spirit are generally limited to assorted holiday parties in which copious amounts of alcohol are involved. It’s easy to mimic some kind of inner cheer when your nose and cheeks are red from makeshift mulled wine. After year-end festivities with friends, I always have to get my head right for my familial obligations. At this time of year, spending time with one’s family shouldn’t be described as “obligation”, but it really is. Sadly, lots of folks feel the same at Christmahanukkwanzakah. For me, being with my whole family reminds me that I’m not with my mom, and that makes me sad. My godchildren have to spend the holidays with their dad this year, so they’ll get a little of what I’m feeling right now, but they’ll be unhappy and together, so at least that’s something. Anyway, seeing the mother-child bond in action kinda sets me off; I can understand their happiness, and that makes me happy for them; but their joy brings out my profound sadness at not having a mother, or a child, or that elemental bond that brings two people together. Cue the tears, along with the radiant smile so I don’t derail the festivities with my pity party.
If I decide to go to Vegas with my Dad at Christmas, how festive is it to cook a ginormous dinner for 2? My Dad wants to relive memories of my Mom, but he’s got that revisioninst history thing where he remembers the “good old days” the way they never happened. Then we have dressing-fueled discussions about how life really was, which leads to a semi-poignant moment during which I try not to cry. The crying will set my Dad off on a tangent of “Oh my God, my daughter has a mental illness and I hope she’s not gonna kill herself; I think I’ll smother her until she really loses her mind because that will make everything better.” Needless to say, the paternal smothering never helps, and Daddy just doesn’t get it after years of my prodding and a few family sessions. Oh, these parents today! Just ‘cuz you’re crying and you have bipolar doesn’t mean you’re gonna jump off the roof. Sadness for a reason – grief, gambling losses, a bad haircut – is just sadness. Long-term sadness for no reason, accompanied by weeks in bed is cause for concern.
Whether you’re sad ’cause you can’t afford to buy gifts in this recession, or you’re sad because you’re the only single person in your family and you’ll be sitting at the kids’ table for dinner, you might need a moment of cheer this week. Doctors will likely agree, there’s no way anyone can feel depressed – clinical or otherwise – while watching The Muppets. In the spirit of the season, I give to you a little ditty that lifted the Scrooge right offa me this week.
If it doesn’t work, you’re probably in need of some serious help. If it does work, watch repeatedly until January 2, then find another video to get you through Valentine’s Day.