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November 23, 2006

An exerpt

November 19, 2005

There are thirty-seven days until Christmas.

“Maybe you should put up a tree this year, decorate the house a little,” said my dad. We were on the long distance. It is a long distance.

“Maybe,” I said.

“It would be good for you,” he said. “The holidays are coming, you can’t just ignore it.”

I shopped for my husband every Christmas, carefully tucking away the little hints all year, the things he would enjoy, the things he would love. I wanted him to open each gift, and laugh and smile at me, and say, “You remembered.”

My house now is too small for a tree. I gave away the Christmas tree stand to a neighbor. I didn’t need it anymore. We had so many boxes of holiday decorations, each a piece of a day an hour a minute spent with him, I gave it all away, I sold it to strangers at a tag sale, I said, “Take this, be happy,” but I knew I was selling myself. Each memory. Goddamn him and his fucking freedom.

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November 21, 2005

Thanksgiving comes first. People who don’t know, who are not alone, say it is the herald of the holiday season (those of us alone, empty and used up like so many bottles of wine, know that it starts with Halloween) and anyway, Thanksgiving is just a minor-league heartbreak, minor-league holiday. But it tells you what’s coming, about people at work … cautiously at first, then more nosy, asking what your plans are, cooking a big dinner?

You can lie of course.
You can lie, but it still makes you feel sick to the pit of your stomach, like sharp acid pooling at the bottom of you, knowing other people feel pity for you, you alone, all alone, while they…. While they eat dry turkey and soggy green beans with family members they speak to four times a year.

When you were married no one took pity on you.

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November 23, 2005


I hate Thanksgiving, it is even worse than Christmas for the lonely divorced alone not perfect. Thanksgiving just makes you pathetic eating frozen pizza and drinking wine with your cat. At Christmas, the very same behavior is maudlin and vaguely Henry Miller. If you throw in some pained longing, you’re practically a revered artist, because everyone else wishes they could be you, their family is on their last nerve and the day drags on, nothing to do nowhere to go. You with your wine and cat and ...

Or so you tell yourself.

Goddamn Christmas, that you used to love and look forward to and decorate the whole house with garlands and lighted wreaths and powdered silver ornaments, velvet stockings, clove-stuffed apples.

“So, what are your plans for Thanksgiving,” my coworker asks.

“Oh,” I say. I was getting coffee in the breakroom. This was not expected, please make it go away, please.

It does not go away.

“I am… just… cooking for a few friends.” This is a lie.

My coworker knows it’s a lie.

I finish pouring coffee, smile. But I am lying.
There’s no reason not to.


Always, always hold onto the diary you kept during the bad year. Years. Months. One day you look back on it, want to reach backward in time and love youself, tell yourself it gets better. (It does get better, evidenced by the fact you no longer write diary entries WITH DIALOGUE. Freak.) You don't lie anymore because the truth isn't that shameful, after a while.

And cats love your frozen pizza Thanksgiving. And you finally know compassion after you thought you'd gone plum crazy. Keep that diary, trust me. Even if it contained, uh, dialogue.

Posted by laurie at November 23, 2006 6:50 PM