If I go on how things have been by this date during the past ten years, I would have all my Christmas cards made out and ready for His Majesty to sign, 95% of my Christmas shopping completed, the house completely decorated, the holiday feasts planned, Christmas music playing, and the holiday spirit. Not this year.

I think I became a huge planner during my father’s time with Alzheimer’s. If I didn’t plan, things didn’t get done, or there was hardship if delays occurred. It was just easier to develop a schedule, then keep to it. I’m just not feeling it this year, so there’s been no schedule, no spirit, and very little desire to do anything about it.

My grandmother and I have recently been reflecting about how we spent the holidays when I was growing up. The family—the relatives we liked and the ones we didn’t—all gathered at Grandma’s house, there was a massive feast, many of the adults would drink—not my folks—and people would leave well-fed, but glad it was over until the next holiday. Grandma and I laugh about it now because as horrific as some of the behavior could turn back then, we have good memories about it, especially the food!

We’re never going to have that again, not like that. Those days are lost now in time.

My mother would start a Christmas club account at the credit union for me, and each year—grade school years, mind you—I’d cash it out and go Christmas shopping. Having a small budget forced me to be quite creative, and I miss those years. I have a slightly bigger budget these days, but my pace for creativity feels like it gets pushed aside a bit more each year with stores anxious to shove the holiday down our throats earlier and earlier, and with things that aren’t so special anymore.

I miss shopping for my old neighbor, Gladys, who was from England, used to babysit me, and who I shared many hours watching horror movies with. I miss the times we’d get dropped off at the mall, walk around, talk about everything we saw, look at all the decorations, stop by Kresge’s so she could get a coffee, then grab lunch at Coney Island. Those were the days.

There’s no Kresge’s anymore. Coney Island moved across the street from the mall. And Gladys passed away from cancer well over a decade ago.

I still take pleasure in shopping for gifts for my mother, grandmother, Little Brother, and the occasional friend. For me, though, the gift I like most these days is the time I spend with people. There are times it takes an act of the Blu-Ray Gods to get me out of the house, but when that happens and I’m around folks, it’s been worth it.

We bought a new Christmas tree this year, and set it up last night. It’s not decorated, but it’s a start. This is a bit how I feel. I’m here, but not decorated yet, not in the spirit of it all yet. It’s a start.

I will be.

Just not today.

Is anybody out there also feeling the malaise?

Views: 39

Comment by koshersalaami on November 21, 2016 at 6:53am

I don't know if I'd attach it to the holidays, but of course. We're going to my mother's up in the mountains in Virginia for Thanksgiving. My wife is afraid of political discussions this year. 

We'll get a tree this year. First time in many years. My wife grew up Christian, so we had trees early on, and frankly I loved being part of a holiday I'd grown up watching from the outside. My wife wasn't Christian any more but she loved Christmas. Buying ornaments was fun and I loved how trees looked. 

So J is born, and we still did it, but at some point my wife asked him how he felt about it and he said that being Jewish he didn't want to do it. We still celebrated at my inlaws, though we had prettier trees. Now J's gone, my daughter who is six years younger grew up without trees and her boyfriend is living here, so we'll bring back trees this year. I just love indoor evergreens. 

Things change, especially with small families and as people spread out around the country. It's a reason I'm glad we're going to Mom's for Thanksgiving. It's not like that house has been in the family forever, though it might be twenty years now. It's beautiful, with a view down a mountain valley with pastures and sometimes low clouds. The road leading to it is gravel. Driving at night is pitch dark and over the years I've seen all sorts of wildlife going to and from there, everything from a bear to a porcupine. 

Comment by Keith Joiner on November 21, 2016 at 7:18am

Malaise? I dispatched it by dispatching the holidays. It is now seen by me as not much more that some extra days off of work. I'm beginning to dislike Christmas as much as I do Halloween. I guess I am the hum bugger of the day today. Sorry. 

Comment by Kage Alan on November 21, 2016 at 8:09am

Kosher, I still visit my grandmother's old house in my mind. I remember the long, winding driveway, the very chilly summer room added on before you got to the back door, the small dining room, narrow kitchen, then the larger dining room, family room, master bedroom we kids weren't supposed to go into, the single bathroom, and then the cupboards where all the kid's games were stored. I even remember the upstairs, the color of the carpet in the house, and lots of little details. It's comforting in a way.

Keith, I can understand where you are coming from. I may be there myself one day.

Comment by Zanelle on November 21, 2016 at 9:25am

Wow, great memories here.  I know the winds of change are blowing us all into old age...everything changes and then changes again.  Remaining upbeat is a challenge.  Now I understand the illusion of the past.  I thought everything was just fine but it turns out all that comfort was not real.  I can feel my mom's tension as she tried to get everything on the beautiful table at once.  She worked so hard to make the miracle happen.  

We work hard in our little family still.  My ex is here and bless his heart he helps.  We are all going to my daughter's cabin for dinner and it is a two hour drive.  It is an unfinished cabin and small but we will cram in there with a few of her friends and it will be merry...Merry I said.  Nevermind the disfunctional boyfriends, never mind no one has any money, never mind there isnt an oven...yet.   There is hope and nature and love.  Yes, love.  I plan to take my tent and be out in the yard if anyone wants me.  Im bringing potatoes.  

My kids remember feasts in the past.  When we lived in the Alaskan wilderness we had thirty people sitting on buckets and sawhorses but sitting at a big table all together and it was fun.  So much work...potlucks are the best.   I am trying to be there for them all.  trying to be positive...why not?  Well there are lots of reasons to be a grump.  But I choose fun and gratitude.

Thanks for this opportunity to think about Thanksgiving.

Comment by Kage Alan on November 21, 2016 at 11:21am

Zanelle? I adore you. =)

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