I was scheduled to spend my day in the car, taxiing my nephew hither-and-fro. When his appointments were surprisingly cancelled, my day was freed up to do something other than sit in my car watching Dracula movies on my iPhone4. What should I do with my unexpected gift?
1) Take down the Christmas tree
2) Re-organize the garage to store fake tree
3) Vacuum Christmas glitter out of the carpet
4)Throw out Thanksgiving leftovers
5) Apologize to readers and write something
Decision time: "I'm SORRY!!!"
And "Thank You!" to those who were worried enough to send an email asking about my absence. Not to leave everybody hanging ('cuz you just know how exciting a retired homemaker's life can be), but this has been the lousiest emotional holiday since my husband walked out with his soul-mate on Christmas Day.
Now my X's abominable behavior occurred so long ago it's hard to even remember the date. What I do remember is my optimistic assumption that since that Christmas was so horrible, every Christmas in the future would be joyous! If only by comparison. Well, pay attention to your assumptions, dear friends. Cherished assumptions may mask False Hope.
Never-and-nonetheless, this holiday season proved to be better than the year the Wench Stole Our Christmas. Or the year we spent Christmas in juvenile court. That was 2008 according to my blog entry. So gee, what happened in 2009? Did we sail through the holidays without a glitch in the festivities? Lemme check my archive.
Now you see this is why blogging is more valuable to the blogger than it is to readers: We document familial insanity. Insanity in the family is something I'm adept at denying or occasionally decorating. I must confess. I had forgotten about Christmas 2009 which either means I'm no longer plagued with neurotic guilt....or perhaps repetitive trauma has burned entire chunks out of my brain? Rated against this year's drama, 2009 was merely annoying.
Now Christmas 2010 has come and gone and though my mood is ruminative and sweet right now, I remember only two weeks ago when family members stared at me as if snakes were wriggling from my scalp. I even gave my sister the evil eye, hoping she’d turn into stone, whereupon I'd hang baubles from her Lancôme nose and string cheap and gaudy bangles from her perky, jiggling...you knows.
It all began when she purchased a dumbed down gingerbread-house-in-a-box advertised with the image of a family cheerily gluing pre-cut walls together with petrifiable frosting. In the picture, kids are smiling; Mom's got a grin a mile wide; and Dad's plumb fascinated with his nuclear family arranging peppermint bombs on prefabricated rooftops. It's a dream in a package for $9.95!
So one evening late after work time ends for family-oriented people, in the house walks my professionally coiffed sister with her Christmas contribution, gaily announcing how neat it would be if we had a gingerbread house. She left her new package on the center island and then as usual, escaped to her room where God only knows what she does for hours while dinner is being prepared. Her room is a nice escape after dinner too, when the maid is cleaning the kitchen ‘cuz gee whiz, what else ought I do with my time?
I found myself staring holes in that ridiculous box. Resenting that box. I wanted to smudge tuna casserole on those creepy Skittles Family faces grinning on that box. To me, buying a gingerbread-house-in-a-box is like purchasing Christmas from Stepford Inc., for heaven's sakes. You can pick the right logo, buy the product of your dreams, cut your time in half, but you stifle the soul of the whole. Don't people realize that or maybe they don't know what they're missing if they had never, ever lifted a DAMN finger to create a merry Christmas for others in the first gosh damn place.
Creating Christmas "for others" being the key to personal happiness despite what codependent pseudo-psychology tells people these days.
If you want to have a Merry Christmas with your family, do this: stand on your feet for hours, whip up a batch of cookie dough forcing you to buy eggs instead of lipstick, put on Dr. Demento’s Christmas Songs numbing your eardrums but delighting your kids, break a fingernail or two scrubbing cookie sheets, and splatter royal frosting in your $200 haircut that was styled by an 'artist' not a hairdresser!
In other words, two sisters with very different personalities do not a congenial Christmas make.
So what am I going to do about it? Well, first of all, I shan't waste energy focusing on HER issues (of which there are so many there isn't enough space in the blogosphere to list them one-by-one, or list them by the gross, as the case may likely be). I have learned and not without formidable resistance, that the only person you can change is yourself. Because my sister and I have lived together for nigh on to fourteen years, it is time to give up the assumption that mothering is instinctive, automatic, and gender-specific. Or that it can be absorbed like water on a dry sponge.
I must also crush the false hope that a mothering-type woman can teach her sister a thing or two--even though this mother doesn’t have an executive office overlooking the city skyline nor master's degrees and high-brow certificates framed and hung on inoffensively neutral colored walls.
But! IF she ever dares bring another Gingerbread-House-In-A-Box into my kitchen, expecting me to put it together and then thank her for such a generous contribution to family festivities, she is gonna get another royal earful. Of frosting.