I have not had the motivation to blog about my bah-humbugs, but I do have talented and generous friends.
This week’s contributor is Theta Pavis, a writer, editor, poet, and all-around wonder woman. She consults on public relations and communications, teaches at New Jersey City University, and contributes to sites and blogs such as Jersey Moms Blog, The Beanstalk and the Yahoo! Motherboard.
Please note: The blog will be on holiday break. Highlights from past holiday seasons will be posted on Christmas and New Year’s Days. The blog will return to its regular posting (and grumbling) schedule the week of January 6. Thank you for your loyal readership. I wish you much peace during the holidays and throughout 2014.
Welcome to the Trauma Ward, Fa La La La La
How can I explain my dread this year about Christmas morning? My bah-humbug tendencies don’t manifest as a seasonal affect disorder that I have to battle. I am, in fact, a holiday fanatic: No, I don’t have a perfectly appointed home or a snow globe collection–it isn’t that bad–but I do start shopping during the summer.
I love the presents, the lights and the corny music. Even when I am down, the sight of people bustling around with packages makes me happy. Even when there is way too much to do, I am happy for the holidays to be here. No one in my family is as sentimental as me, but on the other hand, my grown brothers and sisters have refused to give up our Christmas stocking tradition. Every year someone tries to cancel the stockings because it is so ridiculous, but there is always a revolt. This year everyone will have a stocking, including the cats.
Did I mention we are half Jewish?
Anyway, this year I feel sad because, in some ways, my husband and daughter and I would rather not be here. We’d rather be in Philadelphia with his family, not mine.
This is weird and sad for me to say, let alone think. When I was a young woman in my twenties living on the other side of the country, far, far away from my family, the thought of not being home for Christmas with my mother and siblings made me hyperventilate. I remember one year in Los Angeles it looked like my nonprofit job wouldn’t give me enough time to fly home to New Jersey. It was unthinkable.
And now? Well, my mother’s house resembles a trauma ward. It isn’t the warm fuzzy-pajama-pancake-breakfast and mistletoe-trimmed morning I have in mind.
My mother has stage 4 cancer, which she has been battling for the past three years. That doesn’t stop her (most of the time) from doing a million things, like restorative yoga, supports groups, literary groups and cooking better than almost anyone I know. One of my brother’s friends said this week: “Your mother should write a book: ‘Get Cancer and Get Off Your Ass.’”
Of course we all fell over laughing because it’s so true. How can you feel low-energy or sorry for yourself when you see this woman, who has lost more than 50 pounds, is over 70, losing her hair, and frequently feeling lousy? She just keeps going. And going. Then she makes a pot roast to die for.
One of the reasons she keeps going is us, which includes my sister. Nine years ago, my sister suffered a traumatic brain injury and she can’t walk by herself. Or do a lot of other things that she used to do, like make intricate glass jewelry, hunt, dance (without a wheelchair) or work, for that matter.
This year we have the added issue that my brother recently wiped out riding his bicycle and busted his collarbone so badly they had to operate and put a plate in it.
So yeah, Christmas morning at the trauma ward can be a little intense. Someone said to me this week, “I don’t know how you do it.”
I have two answers: black humor and kittens.
Yes, that is my answer for the holiday blahs. Watching adorable kittens chase each other and scamper after toy mice really makes me feel better about the world. The other thing we have going for us this year – besides the fact that we recently adopted two kittens (shout out to Wabash and Pickle, our rescue kitties) – we have our sense of humor. Dark and frequent, we are often outdoing each other in busting each other’s chops.
When I complain about things lately, my brother just looks at me and says: “Whaaaa,” like I am a crying baby. Then he says: “I have to call the Whambulance.”
Then we laugh.