Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Uh really! I have nevah. I mean, NEVAH EVAH, seen a chestnut, roasting, toasting, or anywhere else at Christmas time. I’m laughing. Loudly. Wow … give me a moment. During the holidays, no matter where I start on the emotion Richter scale, I always end at tears because “we remember.”
I remember my grandma’s sugar orange slices and a baby blue plastic tea set, crinkly tinsel and ‘let me eat’ the strung popcorn. A little girl bright-eyed over Santa Claus, the Black one, as the air tingled with cornbread dressing and expectations. It was magic.
But that’s not always the case.
I remember lonely Christmases, even when surrounded by family and friends.
I’ve seen friends cry, abusiveness, alcoholism, dysfunction. Broken hearts, numb hearts, grieving hearts. If I could grant one wish, it would be a moratorium on deaths – starting the week before Thanksgiving until the week after Valentine’s.
And I’ve learned.
The holiday season will bring out the ‘spirit,’ and some will feel they have no place, cuz …
- They weren’t invited, or invited where they don’t want/care to be.
- Their money’s so low they can’t buy anything. Angry at spending on people who don’t give you a da#n thing, or try to ‘upgrade’ their gift.
- Their tired of ‘faking it’ to get you out of their face. By the way, who’s worse? – the ‘come on, sing!’ ‘Christmas is JESUS’ birthday,’ ‘oh, she’ll/he’ll be the designated driver, not like you’re getting any tonight, right? Party!’
When I had enough of my family, I said don’t expect me home next Christmas. Okay, they bought tickets to visit me in L.A., however, I made sure I took care of my needs while I was there. Couldn’t roll with my flow, tough.
When I wanted the ‘Cosby family’ Christmas, I told my parents “I” had Christmas. Did the tree, even bought ornaments with our names on them. Lights on the bushes and in the windows. Ignored every ‘Well, I don’t know why you’re,’ my mother made. It was MY Christmas. And my joy came Christmas morning. My parents woke to presents piled high under the tree. I heard my mother scream, ‘West, look at all these presents. Santa’s been here.’ Like a little kid she then bugged me until I got up and passed out their gifts, which I’d put in bowls, shoes, cups, pots … and wrapped in newspapers, face towels, and comics because I dislike wrapping paper.
Since she died in 2004, a month before Christmas, I’ve listened to my heart and did whatever I’ve wanted, not what was expected or asked. The first year I ate pizza. This year I finally feel like cooking. And I sent e-Christmas cards, and heard back from some people I haven’t talked to in a while. (Big grin on my face right now.)
So my second gift
– To those that are faking it, or feel displaced, don’t let anyone or anything push you over the edge. Exhale. Know that you’re not alone with these feelings. Know that you’re okay. Know it will be okay. Find one thing you really want to do for the holidays that you can do, and do it. Then smile at somebody, anybody. It will come back to you. And if you need someone to hear, drop me a line. I’m listening. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy holidays, and to all even more.