Reflections on the day after Christmas


Not a thing in the US. But it could be.
About half of everyone I know gets some kind of sickness or injury around the holidays. My wife has the eternal cough and I am fighting what may be some insidious form of bronchitis. It’s the kind when just when you think it’s gone it returns like a Trump tweet.
We had a nice Christmas in that is was without issues. I guess it was kind of an introvert’s Christmas. We went up to the ex’s and saw the kids, exchanged gifts and headed home – 8 hours max outside the house. But my wife’s cough was an issue and I didn’t want her too far between breathing treatments. And then I started up with the wheezing.
I make strange noises when I wheeze. I woke up with it today. It’s like there’s a little mouse inside of me tweeting. It’s almost funny.
I won’t go to the doctor. I was there earlier in the week and while they were very nice (gave me tea) I’m not going to waste any more time or money to be told things I already know. My lungs were clean then; they are not now. Hot showers are the best treatment.
Back to Christmas. It’s always mournful to remember the festivities of my youth and when my kids were little. My wife and I, I must reiterate had a very pleasant time together. All was calm, all was bright. We had a nice ham. It was probably for the best that neither of us has big extended families to deal with.
I read a number of Internet message boards both Facebook and others. A lot of angst and marital strife is engendered when couples fight on how to parcel their time between each other’s families. 
This really gets serious. I don’t have to worry about that. 
And yet.
Something’s missing. Even my wife messages her cousins remembering how making the ham and such reminds her of Christmas was a long-deceased Aunt. I remember the way our family home was decorated. We have no tree now because we have a cat.
I put up lights the first two years we lived here but not the last two years. I just don’t feel like it and I have nary the energy anyway. 
We have an 18-inch pink tree on top of a bookcase. Other than that, you’d never know that it was Christmas in this house. We enjoy other neighbor’s light displays. 
Again, we had a VERY pleasant Christmas together. I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression. We enjoy each other’s company more than anyone else’s. 
And yet.
I know I’ve made this observation before but I must again for this is my blog and a peek into the lives those of us lead with various mental conditions, mild or otherwise. 
I have four relations left that I am aware are still alive. Due to various family disagreements, none of us are speaking to each other and no one make any effort to do so, me included. One thing I have yet to learn, but am working on, is that some doors, in fact, most doors, are probably best left shut.
You open those doors at your peril. Life is not a Hallmark movie. Instead of forgiveness and warm feelings, more often than not, all the anger and bitter resentment you’ve tried to forget gets dredged up again.
Of the remaining relations, two are cousins on my mother’s side who are still nursing grudges having to do with old family spats between our mothers. One re-connected with me and then broke it off relatively quickly when I failed to be Christian enough for her. One I cut off for the sake of my own mental health. 
Everyone else is dead or long dispersed and lost to history. One I suspect who is still alive, would rather remain alone in his eternal grief. I feel great sorrow for him but I respect his right to live in his own world. When he dies, I’ll probably not know. Those two cousins on my mother’s side? When their father (my uncle) died, they didn’t even bother letting me know. I found out months later googling his name and finding his obituary. 
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that Facebook is not a drug for many people. It allows one to look into the lives of others and, for the most part, measure your life against theirs. We all try (well, except me, but I’m crazy) to put our best face on the book (see what I did there?). But everyone’s different and the luck of the draw can be very destructive to some people and their families through little fault of their own. 
These are the people who should stop looking at Facebook and the Internet in general at the holidays. 
But I can’t. I like that people are happy with their extended families this time of year. Their pictures bring a smile to my face. 
But also, they bring a twinge to my heart. I try to pin it down what exactly I’m missing and what I come up is the feeling of togetherness, of belonging. 
Even those Christmas Eves when there was family intrigue going on that as a child I was unaware of, I had the feeling of being part of an extended family where all the kids were accepted as God’s gift to everyone. We were doted on, we were spoiled to an extent but more than that, we were home. Whichever relative’s house we were in, we were at home. It was a wonderful feeling. 
I suppose that’s why I don’t leave my home much anymore. This is it – I feel at home here. It’s like the last outpost. My wife and I are here in a home we love. Since moving in, in the last three years, we have entertained guests exactly twice and one was my wife’s work friends. It’s not that we don’t want to – we just don’t have anyone around here that lives close enough and are friendly enough with.
So we have this house, with a basement for entertaining, one that I once decked out for Christmas with authentic 1950s aluminum tree that would be perfect for the kind of holiday family get togethers I used to know and. . . we have each other. 
It seems like a shame. 
I wonder if the excitement of throwing a party, which I used to know, would gain me the energy to do it – to clean and ready the house for guests; to have a big party and a wonderful time. I used to. I was quite a party thrower. 
Surrounded by all the memorabilia of my past in the basement, I do feel like I am entertaining the ghosts of my past. It’s probably why, for all my pride in creating this space, I spend so little time down there alone. After a while, it’s discomforting. I could pour myself a nice drink and stare at pictures of my dead parents, my high school classmates and my original name tag from McDonalds. 
Perhaps I fear if I do that too long, I’ll land up in my own Twilight Zone episode. 
And so it was Christmas and everything was sedate. No drama, no worries over getting the right gifts or burning the dinner or whether uncle so and so would go on a drunken tirade, etc. 
In my present state of physical and mental health, I am grateful. 
And yet.
This entry was posted in children, Christianity, Christmas, depression, donald trump, good memories, gratitude, mental health, parents, regret. Bookmark the permalink.

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