Thursday, December 3, 2015

Blue Christmas

The holidays can be difficult...

For some reason, December has knocked me a little off center this year. Although I can usually be counted on to be pretty positive about winter, the holidays, trees in the house, this year I am definitely feeling more Scrooge-ish than George Bailey-ish. (At the end of the movie, not the middle.) It certainly has to do with some of the family issues that have occurred this year: my Dad’s coma and rehabilitation and my sister’s cancer surgery to name just the medical ones.  My dad and sister have the burden of fighting for their health, but the residual effects on me manifest as stress. It’s possible I am approaching burn-out in my day job; the parents with whom I work seem more desperate and vindictive, the children more traumatized and distressed. December rounded the corner like a ton of bricks and we’re only a few days in.

I’ve had a house-full, too. Annie and her little family have been with us for over a year and just this weekend, they are moving into their own home. Which is good . . . and bad. It is good because they need to be in their own place and it will give Angelo and me the chance to do all the things we used to do when there wasn’t an audience. Nothing really sexy or adventurous; the most risqué behavior we engaged in was to walk to the bathroom naked and the most daring we got was to leave dishes in the sink overnight.  The bad part is that Angelo and I got really used to having Luca around on a daily basis. To say that we will miss him is to understate the loss we will undoubtedly feel when he’s gone.  They’re not going far, just down the road to the next town, but it won’t be the same. And that’s a little, you know, horrible. But we’ll help them pack and smile as we wave good-bye.

Dreading December and not looking forward to Christmas is such a foreign feeling for me that it makes me feel bad. Usually, I am not worried about feeling bad, because I can usually rouse myself out of it. It's the timing that is a little worrying. It's Christmas, for Pete's sake. Am I getting depressed? What’s next? Am I going to don a black veil and throw roasted chestnuts at small children on my street? Shutter my windows instead of putting the obligatory single lit candle in each one? Buy a bucket of coal? Cry?

I could just settle down for a minute. Stress is stress . . . even the good kind. With every ten emails shouting out the latest deals for last minute presents is one that suggests taking care of “YOU” during the holidays. Which doesn’t make any sense at all, because when you’re stressed and overwhelmed and likely to smash one of the Lenox china dishes that your husband salvaged from his first marriage rather than read one more Groupon for a time-limited offer, the suggestion to “just relax!” will simply invoke rage.  The holidays are tough, if not for you personally, probably for someone you know. Yes, yes, right now it’s me, but you get the drift.  It’s probably good for me to go through this feeling: the dread of holiday expectations and barely mustered cheerful behavior. My typical Christmas demeanor is usually about halfway between Will Farrel’s Elf and The Grinch, but I could go up or down the scale a few notches when necessary.

When the holidays make life difficult for people, I think two things happen: the sufferers wish they didn't have to slap a happy grin on their face and others fret about how to handle including them in holiday activities. There is no easy middle ground for this and I suspect some find it easier to avoid dealing with it.  Does your friend or relative who grapples with holiday malaise really want to be invited or don't they? Should you call? Will they answer? Will my gifts arrive on time? Do I have to eat fruitcake?

Dealing with this bout of gloominess isn’t much fun. I feel like I’m looking through department store windows all decked out with sparkly lights and cotton snow . . .  I know I should feel excited and happy, but right now, I don’t. This will eventually evolve into other, more manageable feelings. For example, in more positive news, my book is still bumping along, albeit lethargically. Everything having to do with it is wonderful; meeting people, visiting new bookstores, making a few bucks.  I appeared in a play that nearly sold out last weekend and that was a surprisingly fantastic experience.  Especially because the cast and crew consisted of 19 women and there was no bitchiness or diva behavior.  There's a lot going on and apparently I can’t help but overload my plate, both figuratively and literally. (And that’s a Thanksgiving weight-gain reference.) 

Who knows? I might even get those candles in the windows and get some Christmas shopping done before the 24th. If I run into someone who doesn’t look like tinsel personified, I won’t  throw eggnog at them to “cheer” them up. Hmm...maybe I’m on to something here.  I actually feel kind of good about it.

Oh, damn. A Christmas miracle.

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