The title of this post was inspired (sort of) by this song:
Aside #1: By the way, at the very beginning you’ll hear a few notes of Andy Williams’ signature song “Moon River”.
This song – “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – was a song he sang on his Christmas TV specials. I grew up watching them all, along with Bing Crosby’s Christmas TV specials (here is Bing singing a duet with David Bowie!), “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – featuring Burl Ives (watch it here), and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (still being shown on TV every holiday).
Anyway, this time of year you really can’t go anywhere without hearing Christmas music. So this song has been stuck in my head for a few days.
But the contrast between what one thinks Christmas should be like, and what Christmas really is like, is starting to get to me. I’m not alone, a lot of people feel the same way. And it’s a struggle to not let it get to you.
My first reaction is to just not go anywhere, but that’s not an option this year because I volunteer at a hospital gift shop. I can’t just grump out at home.
I don’t have any relatives near me. My kids are grown and one is off to England to be with her fiance’s family for Christmas soon, one is stuck in Atlanta with no time off, and the place I usually go (Memphis, to visit my son and his wife) probably isn’t an option this year.
I say “probably”, because my son was intending to send a plane ticket, but he’s been so busy I haven’t heard anything yet – and buying a ticket at this late date will be pricey.
Adding to my missing my kids are the women I work with. Questions about what I’m doing for Christmas, and descriptions of their own family gatherings just feel like a hot poker to the gut at times. It’s a struggle for me to keep that happy, smiling face on in situations like that.
I’m glad for them, and I truly do like seeing pictures of their grandchildren and listening to their holiday decorating ideas and recipes, but…I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt.
Aside #2: There’s this thing about grandmas and holidays. I know they aren’t trying to make me feel bad, but I hate seeing that look in their eyes akin to something like pity. It’s just a thing people my age do, I guess.
My life was not supposed to be like this.
My life was supposed to be with a husband of 38 years, living near at least one of my kids and probably traveling to see the other kids – trips that my husband and I would pay for. Enjoying retirement, or enjoying a job, or at the very least having a car with which to find a job if need be.
Christmas in a house. A house owned, not rented. Being the female half of the “Grandparents hosting the Christmas dinner”, with a huge table where everyone sits, a pretty tree in the window, and lots of laughter and joy.
That’s not my life.
The marriage lasted almost 20 years, when I had had enough of the drinking and cheating. I even dragged both of us to marriage counseling, and stopped going when the “counselor” (a pastor) wanted to have a session with my then-husband and his mistress.
Yep, he really did try to set that up. I didn’t swear at him, because you know even I do not swear at clergy, but I was pissed off and I never went back – didn’t pay him, either.
To this day I cannot imagine what his rationale was.
Right, so…that kind of blew the “til death do us part” thing, and all that “couple growing old together” business, and the Norman Rockwell-esque Christmases.
My life at Christmas-time this year is living alone, without a Christmas tree, in a small rented apartment. Maybe putting up some lights on the porch (if I can earn another gift card with which to buy them), so Nancy Downstairs has a nice view for when she comes home or just looks out her window.
I will (hopefully soon) have DirecTV come hook me up for basic channels, so I can avoid watching Christmas specials and distract myself with other kinds of TV. Hey, $20/month I can do, and that’s their special rate for a year.
I am the kind of person who, I freely admit, cries while watching Hallmark Christmas specials alone, so I am not going to do that. I don’t self-inflict. I’ll watch a Doctor Who Christmas show, probably, and “Sherlock” when the new one comes out in January.
I am struggling – there’s that word again – to maintain a balanced mood, but it’s difficult.
One way to do that, of course, is to focus on others – and as a volunteer, I do that. I do that 4 days a week. It’s the “down time” that gets to me.
Come next weekend, I will be out and about finishing my Christmas shopping and hopefully will get it done so I can mail all the presents to my kids and grandson. It won’t be very much – it never is – and sometimes the postage is more than the gift but…it’s Christmas. That’s just what you do.
I don’t really know what the point of this blog post is, except just as maybe something I will look back at someday and think, “Wow, my life is so much better than it was back then.”
I have no rational reason to think that way, but if I don’t have any hope that the future will be better…
…I don’t need to fall down that hole. I might not be able to climb out if I do. And I certainly don’t want to stay down there so long that I make it a permanent living space for my psyche.
Oh, and the other point of this post is to suggest, once again this year, that if you have a neighbor or someone you know is alone, do something to cheer him or her up. You’d be surprised at how far a small, kind gesture will go.
And because part of the reason for this blog is to describe what it’s like being disabled, alone, and living under the poverty level, I can tell you that it really sucks during the holidays. So go make it less sucky for someone, ok?
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and that’s never been a huge holiday for me so it doesn’t sting quite so much to be alone. And hey, at least I’m not a turkey!
So, I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving and travel safely if you go.
Today’s weirdness comes from the “IFLScience” website, about scientists having discovered an island only referred to in ancient texts but never before located, called Kane:
“Researchers Discover Lost Ancient Greek Island”, Josh L. Davis, IFLScience website, 11/23/15.
Recommendation for the week? A really strange film starring Daniel Radcliffe (yep, of Harry Potter fame) called “Horns”. It’s about a guy who, after his girlfriend is murdered, grows horns that only he and some others can see.
It’s kind of heavy-handed on the religion at the end, but most of it is nicely done (and there are some humourous parts) and he’s a splendid actor, so well worth a look. On Hulu and Netflix.
Be good. Be kind. Be safe.