Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Why I Don't Love the Holidays

I used to blog a lot, then I got bogged down with writer's block, life, and foot surgery.  I took a series of "mirror pictures" the other day, and the metaphor of looking at myself in the mirror was not lost on me; it has, if nothing else, made me want to write again, which is a step in the right direction.

So here I am ...

And here goes my latest attempt at musings (I should mention that much of why I've been unable to write lately is because I have so much I want to write about--gun control, the asinine faux celebrations by some groups that are downright insulting when you get right down to it, the use of technology in schools, just to name a few).

Holidays are supposed to be a happy time, right?  I always--always--end up miserable, disillusioned, and feeling downright lonely.

I should make very clear that Christmas was wonderful and incredible for my girls, which is of course the most important thing.

In terms of me personally, though, it boils down to two main things that cause me angst around the holidays.

*  My step-father passed away on December 23 several years ago.  He was one of the best, and I miss him terribly.  My mother has it even worse, and my entire family is honestly pretty down in the dumps at Christmastime.

This year I had a new wrinkle added.

I went to the cemetery on the 23rd, put an ornament on the tree planted there along with a letter I'd written to him, and then I cried a lot.

I learned recently that my stepdad loathed Pythagorus (the blog pseudonym I use for my alcoholic, emotionally abusive ex-husband), felt from the moment he met him that he was weak and unstable.  He found Pythagorus to be completely pathetic, predicting long ago that Pythagorus would self-destruct because ... well, that's what mentally ill people unable to face their problems do when life doesn't go their own way.

I realized that I am angry with him for not telling me that his take on Pythagorus was that he was pretty much a sociopath, a person that sees life only in terms of himself (which is not to say that he didn't do good things but rather that he did them so that people would say, "Wow, what a good person he is!").

In other words, my stepdad had Pythagorus pegged perfectly, knew that he would cause me tremendous pain, yet let it happen anyway.

A sense came to me at the cemetery, a feeling that seemed like a message: "You have Belle, and you wouldn't otherwise."

That is true, and my magical Fairy girl is worth every broken glass and scream and lie and cruelty and bruise and humiliation he put me through.

Coming to terms with my stepdad--who was the best judge of character I've ever met--making a conscious choice to let life happen and the knowledge that it was the right thing to do even though it would epitomize the word "bittersweet" was exhausting, and it made me miss him even more this year.

I would have loved to have a conversation with my stepdad.  I kind of did at the cemetery (I always feel like I've spent time with him after going to his grave), but I wanted more, which made me miss him even more, and ... yeah, it snowballed.

*  I love to give.  The concept of doing things for other people--specifically taking the time to find a way to show the people I love that I care about them--is a beautiful thing to me.

I don't want anything in return.  Honestly, I don't.  And people don't understand when I tell them that.

What ends up happening is that people give me things that show that they don't understand me as well as I'd expected or know how to make me happy in a simple way, which is my preference.  With God as my witness, I'd rather get a piece of maple sugar candy than a diamond necklace.

So I get depressed on that level, which of course leads me to the obvious extension ... am I doing the same thing for other people?  Do I think that I am making them happy by spending time with them or having a lively conversation or giving a gift, and it's truly just depressing the hell out of them because it's all just showing how little I know them?

*  Something really amazing was supposed to be happening right around now.  It's not.  I'm sad.  

I'm realizing writing this post how selfish I sound (I am really and truly not selfish), but I guess I'm wondering if anyone else feels worse during the holiday season than any other time of year.

Here's a specific question for anyone reading this ... feel free to respond in the comments.  What are your thoughts on Yankee Swaps?

Me, I think they're fine for work parties and large social gatherings, but not for family.  The idea of taking the time, energy, and thought out of picking out a gift for someone (which could include a homemade coupon for a backrub or an afternoon of sledding, for example, or something like what Addie did for her grandmother, taking her to see Les Miserables the afternoon of Christmas day) in lieu of spending a little bit of money on something generic that involves absolutely no thought is just distasteful to me.  I realize that this is not a popular view; I almost caused a scene at Thanksgiving when I said I would refuse to participate in a family Yankee Swap (I did try to make clear that if everyone else was good with that, it was fine with me, but I just did not want to participate for reasons that I believe you understand if you're still reading this).

Anyway, I'm rambling ... but at least I'm writing :-)

The next post will be tighter, better organized, and hopefully more thought-provoking instead of me wondering if I'm the only one to wallow in self-pity at Christmastime.