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December 26, 2006

Christmas pictures

I actually made these from scratch! If by "scratch" you mean Duncan Hines. Everyone seemed to like them, though.

We all sat around and chitchatted and caught up. There's aunt Pam and Bill and Thelma in the back and Greg.

Doesn't Grandma look awesome!

Then there was the christmas day gift opening, oh my gosh it was so awesome. You should have seen the laughing and smiling all around. Plus, later there was karaoke in Spanish. OH YES THERE WAS.

Mr. Hakim gets some help with gift-opening.

Bill hates having his picture taken, so I snuck up on him with the camera.

I adore Raydine. She got all gussied up for Christmas! Usually we catch up on what's happening in my love life. Obviously that was a really short conversation this time. Ha!

Then when I got home, I found Roy holding down the fort... literally!

Hope ya'll had a Merry Christmas. Mine was awesome. Aunt Pam even had Christmas presents under the tree for one very crazy cat lady (!!!) and dinner was delicious and we all played Scattergories on Christmas Eve and I have to tell you, Grandma is looking amazing and doing so well. Traffic wasn't even that bad on the way home, a Christmas Miracle if ever there was one.

When I got home it was late and the cats were hungry and I changed into my pajamas, made dinner for everyone (fancy feast for some, microwave popcorn for others) and I walked from room to room and looked around.

My house is very small, and within its walls are all the things that anchor me to earth. I used to think all my stuff and furniture and shoes and plates and spoons were weighing me down, sometimes now I look at it and I hope it can keep me from just disappearing.

The next year is going to be a really good year. I tell myself that a lot, it becomes a mantra. Over and over: Next year will be a good year. Thirty-six will be the best age. Aught-seven will be the new year, the good year, the happy year.

I don't want to hate the holidays, but I secretly do. I didn't sit it out this year, though. I bought a tree and decorated it and gave my coworkers gifts and even listened to Christmas music once of my own volition. I liked stretching out on the living room floor at night and watching my orange cat try to plan out exactly how he could sit inside the tree's branches, between a glass penguin and a snowflake ornament. Every time he managed to free a frosted, sparkling ornament from the tree he looked so pleased that I just let him do it until half the branches were bare. Then I would put the fallen soldiers back on the tree each night before I went to bed so he'd have something to do while I was at work the next day.

That part was nice.

I used to suffer from Jerry Maguire Syndrome: always needing someone to complete you. Not true, as it turns out.

Most of all I want to stop always wishing that things were different and just see a situation for exactly what it is. Sometimes I catch myself saying, "But I don't WANT it to be this way," or "WHY is this happening?" and it's all useless, just a waste of time, because I will never change what is, I can only change how I am.

It's not futility to realize you have no power over a thing. Just do the best you can with what you've got, I guess.

This time last year I was near-catatonic with fear and anxiety, not sure how I would walk through the whole day without dissolving, my divorce so recently final and I was alone, in every way as alone as I have ever been. I'm not sure I have changed much. On Friday at work I was ready to leave from the moment I arrived, if I had to answer one more question about what my plans were for the weekend I might have become recently unemployed, what with the nervous breakdown and all. Somehow I managed to smile and partly that was because this year I had actual plans, going down to see my grandma.

Of course you have to make chitchat and be nice and so on, especially at work, but after a while I noticed something odd. I myself wasn't asking the normal questions, the stuff everyone asked me. ("So! What are your plans for the holidays? Spending it with family?" "Spending it with a new boyfriend?" "Going home to see family?" "So, having people over?")

I found myself saying, "Are you enjoying the Christmas honking?" or "Have you managed to stay out of a diabetic coma with all the chocolate in our office?" or "I hope you have a nice weekend." I didn't realize I was doing it. I made no special effort to be impersonal. But maybe after so many days and weeks and excruciating hours of painfully oblivious questions about what is supposed to be a happy and festive and lovey-dovey time of the year, I have developed a keen sense of what not to ask. You never know what someone's own personal loss is or what the holidays are doing to them. I have stopped asking personal questions at all, even the most mundane or innocent.

Sometimes I want to move. I want to go someplace new where nobody knows me and just drive on a new street and have a new job and wear different clothes. I want to make up a brand new life, invented whole cloth from my fantasies. I want to be someone completely different from who I am.

But that would be a lie. Lies seem easier but then in the end you're still you, just hidden a little better.

I like how Grandma never complains, neither do Bill or Raydine or Aunt Pam. I like that my parents were thrilled to hear me happy on the phone. I wish they were here, or I were there, wish wish wish. I do a lot of it.

I was really glad everyone liked the cupcakes, and no one got botulism from them. I've spent Christmases alone and Christmases with family, husband, and now I'm glad I didn't check out this year, too, even though it was the right decision last year. This year I had a great time, and late at night on Christmas Eve Grandma told me how she and Grandpa met, and Aunt Pam let me get my OCD on by cloroxing her kitchen and I knitted a little on my mismatched scarf and really, it's not that we have to live up to some made-for-TV movie of a perfect holiday. We just do the best with what we've got and be happy with it, stop always wishing things were different and just enjoy what's happening in our real lives, not dwell on the fear life, or the but-I-want life. When I say "we" I mean "me."

Now if that isn't some wine-glass philosophizing, I don't know what is.

Posted by laurie at December 26, 2006 7:17 PM