Friday, December 23, 2011
Fa ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra
This is the first year in the history of my life when there will be not be a single relative who lives outside of my house celebrating Christmas Eve or Christmas Day with me. Nada. No One. Zilch. No invitations were extended our way, and none from us were accepted. I'm not expecting the "We love you so much and hate that we can't see you this year" phone calls either. They won't come. They never have. Don't feel sorry for me, though. I'm looking at this Christmas with a new set of priorities. I'm considering it a gift, really. It's the gift that keeps on giving because this is the year that I have decided to finally let go.
I have always been jealous of your Christmas. I was jealous because your house is full of bear hugs for relatives you've missed all year. I was jealous of how you linger at the table over coffee while reminiscing about the days when polyester pant suits and bee hive hairdo's were all the rage. I was jealous of how your heart swells when you look around your crowded, messy house and close your eyes for that brief moment while thanking the powers that be for your blessings. Most of all, I was jealous that in your family, gathering at Christmas is a time-honored tradition that no one wants to miss.
That all changed a few months ago, though. On a blistering summer afternoon, I found my car pulling into the graveyard where my parents are buried. I never go there. Cemeteries are dreadful places that bring me no peace. However, as I stood there staring at the names of my Mama and Daddy etched into that stone, I had an epiphany. It was time to move forward because the years are never guaranteed. I have always said that you don't have to like to the people you're related to, but now it is time to cut them loose. I know my mom would hate that our family is irrevocably broken, but deep in her heart she would understand why. You shouldn't have to beg for love...and I won't any more.
So, this Christmas as families are loading up their plates with turkey and trimmings, washing down their pumpkin pie with egg nog, and laughing with delight at a bounty of gifts, I will be thankful that there are at least a handful of people who truly love me and want me around. These are folks who don't need me to beg and cajole for attention and companionship. This is MY family, MY people, the four of us, and to hell with the rest of the self-absorbed world. We're making a new tradition this year, taking a cue from Ralphie and the Parker's from "A Christmas Story". We'll dress in our Sunday best and head out for Chinese food this year. I finally realized that with my real family at my side, who needs a sweet potato casserole served with tension and drama when you can have peace in your heart and lo mein noodles.
And...if we're lucky...maybe they will serenade us, too. Fa, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra!!