So, the holiday season is upon us and naturally my thoughts turn to my stepfather’s ex-wife’s husband and too many other “relatives” and friends whom I miss terribly. Old age should kill more people; disease, less.
I come from a family of few- three originals, my mother, father, and myself. Then there were divorces that rang in the 60’s and 70’s, silences that rivaled the moments we stood still quietly when Viet Nam was over, the Wall came down, and the Mafia finally killed Kaddafi, Hussein and Bin Laden. Second marriages eventually seemed like first ones, There were live-ins, dates and significant others. Now my family is huge, and there’s not a marrow match in the bunch. By the way, be a bone marrow donor if you’re not already. You could save someone like me who doesn’t have viable family members. Not me particularly, just someone similar. I’m good.
This is a hard time of year for many, and I’m going to share the reasons it’s difficult for me. Lots of family: check. But I am inherently an only child who grew up entertaining me and sometimes entertaining others. A few select, also entertain me. Mostly, I was either on or off, and this hasn’t changed, only now it’s more pronounced. I can spend a certain amount of time with friends and family, all of whom I adore, but then the gate shuts. There’s an expiration date on my ability to socialize, then I’m done. People who only see me “on” think I’m evading them when I’m off.
The window doesn’t stay open long. I can live through a party and have a great time, but I will not see people the next day. The next day is for books, TV, gardening, or playing with the cat. Things I can do alone (except for the cat). This is what bipolar disorder is to some. Highs and lows; extremes, if you will. It’s okay, and I’m lucky that the extremes have never led me to buy multiple houses (okay, I have two, but that’s not excessive, that’s investment), or bags and bags of dog food (no dog). The lows have never made me suicidal. They have caused ridiculous amounts of crying, which I’m sometimes afraid won’t stop. That’s the scary part; thinking that your heart is breaking so badly that you could literally cry until they take you away. It does stop though, and maybe it’s normal, but no one talks about it.
The holidays tear me asunder because there is never the correct mix of off and on. There are either too many parties, or not enough. Or I have to drive far to get to them- I hate driving and if it wasn’t for books on tape, I’d be completely agoraphobic. Books on tape let me take my love of reading on the road. Other than that, it’s just assholes driving badly, fear of deer running out in front of my car, breaking down on the road, getting stuck in the snow, or a not-so-paranoid feeling that people on the road may not be sober, or conscious of what they could do to others by not paying full attention.
Snow freaks me out, yet I can’t abide living with giant cockroaches, or 3 million dollar mortgages, or more hillbillies than I currently share geographic space with. If there’s a Utopia with my name on it, take me there. I understand that a personal Utopia may be an oxymoron, but I can dream, can’t I? It’s always 70 degrees, there’s a light breeze, bugs and snakes are banned, deer eat out of your hand (and don’t have ticks because of the bug ban), people who think, question and don’t argue, but listen, are everywhere, cars are Nerf and mortgages are reasonable. I’ve ruled out most of the 50 states for one reason or another. Oh, there is no crime of course, and everyone loves their pets very much.
Here’s my point for the holidays, and maybe it applies to others. If I’m alone, thank you for the invite. If I can make it I will, but this is not my season. It’s cold, the weather is unpredictable, and I have a bear’s instinct to hibernate until things grow again. I’m sad, but I’m okay, and I’ve pulled out of 48 winters so far. I will again. Sweaters help. If I attend your party, I will do so because I know I can be on, comfortable, and maybe even funny.
I have no religion. I am atheist with Jewish and Buddhist philosophical undertones. Christmas does not mean anything to me. I understand that it does for many, but I would like to see more good will towards men and less ridiculousness at Wal-Mart and the other big box stores. I’d like to see less pressure over whom to buy gifts for- if it’s in your heart to give, give, and never expect anything in return. If someone buys something for you, don’t feel guilty. Say thank you and move on. Holiday cards fill my mailbox and I read each one and smile, laugh and feel awesome that someone is thinking about me. Unfortunately, I can’t consolidate my thoughts about so many people into small cards, and the deadline is something I can do without in my life. It would take me a year to compile holiday cards to everyone I wanted to tell how I feel. And I’m sorry, but Christmas letters are like listening to your dreams (in most cases) or what you’ve eaten down to the crust on the latest fad diet. Plus, most cards have religious overtones I don’t subscribe to. I’d rather send you an email, a FB message, or a tweet, that says “Hey, it’s Tuesday afternoon and I’m thinking about you.”
I’m not an evangelist for my lifestyle, but I’m a proponent on living how I live because it works for me. It’s my Utopia. Share in any parts of it that you’d like.
Cheers and happy everything to everyone I love, and who I’m lucky enough to have love me back.
Copyright Suki Eastman 2011