Dear Jo sent me this as she knows how much I love Bill Murray and hate Christmas. Add that up and this is pretty much the perfect greeting.
This ignoring Christmas thing is going pretty well for me. I have no guilt about it, well, mostly, and I am looking on at the hysteria with a bemused expression on my face wondering why we don't ALL just say no to the ridiculousness of it all. I mean, if you love putting up a Christmas tree, well then, do it and enjoy the hell out of it. If you don't, fuck it. If you have a way to celebrate which is joyful and meaningful to you, then that is a beautiful thing and be grateful and if you don't, well I'm here to tell you that it is A-Okay.
I'm looking at it this way- I did Christmas for my children, not for me. They are grown up and can do Christmas for themselves which allows me to finally and at last, step away from a situation which causes me mostly depression and pain. Thank goodness my husband doesn't really care, one way or the other. But if I don't eat one Christmas cookie, much less bake a bunch of them, I'll be perfectly fine.
Man, I used to go all out. My first husband and I used to throw a wingdinger of a Christmas party. I'd make eggnog that would knock your socks off and bake and freeze cookies for months. I'd cook a turkey, a ham, make a fruit salad big enough to fit into the engine compartment of a DC-10. I made and decorated cookies specifically to hang on the tree. I made fruitcakes in early November and wrapped them tenderly in rum-soaked cheesecloth and set them to ripen in bright tin containers. I wrote Christmas letters and sent cards. I made gifts. I bought gifts. I drove five hours to Winter Haven on Christmas days so that we could share the children with two grandparent-homes and still have Christmas of our own.
Yeah, boy. That was fun.
Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it.
Am I going to be sad to wake up in Cozumel on Christmas morning to see that beautiful water chuckling against the beach instead of seeing Owen's eyes light up at all of the booty underneath the tree?
I seriously doubt it.
Does that make me a bad grandmother? A bad mother?
No, it does not. I am here almost 365 days a year, being the best mother and grandmother I know how to be and if not being there on Christmas morning makes me less of a grandmother then so be it.
I'll be less.
I'll take it.
I might make the traditional Christmas Eve dinner Moon chicken salad and give that to Lily before I go. I wouldn't mind doing that. And that's about as much of tradition I care to do.
Ah-lah. I'm still not feeling well and it's another overcast chilly day here in North Florida. The sort of wet-chilly that gets in the bones and settles there. The sun is a milky disk behind the clouds and does nothing at all for warmth or cheer. I am going to rest today and perhaps get out my old sewing machine and do some repair work on clothes I want to take to Cozumel. Perhaps.
I'm still plowing through Swamplandia! but it is not making me happy. Definitely surrealism. I get enough of that in my dreams, thank-you very much, but I do appreciate a fine writer and so I'll keep going with it, I suppose.
It's one of those days and I am thinking of the Myth of Mary, Mother of Jesus and how unfair it is that not only have we created the story that she gave birth unattended in a stable (and I am sure that the number of women who have given birth unattended in less-than-perfect circumstances is legion) but we have insisted that she had to witness her son's death and then go on to become a goddess herself to whom we go with every sort of prayer and heart-wish and how saying her rosary is a punishment and how confusing all of this is and how I am NOT a goddess, my heart always in my hands in offering, but am a woman, a real one, a mother, a wife. As much as I love my images of the Holy Mother I also resent them because even in her feminine guise, it somehow seems to me that there is more than the whiff of the patriarchal in the insistence of her pureness, her never-ending patience and giving and eternal suffering.
This is what a real woman should be, religion tell us. The Madonna is the example to which we should aspire.
And if we are not, do not, then what are we?
Well, we can be both and not perfect at either but able to choose which and when and where and how.
Does any of this make sense?
I doubt it.
I am Mary but I am not THE Mary and I am the mother and I am the wife and I am mostly just the woman who lives now and will someday die. I have done Christmas and this year I will not.
I will find my own magic and gratefully so and the world will go on just fine and the wrapping paper in that tiny room under the stairs in my house can be used by the mice for nests for their babies as far as I am concerned and I am just so glad not to be feeling the need to be out in the marketplace buying trinkets and stuff that no one needs and resenting the enforced cheer of the canned carols and bottled snow and I am no good at either giving or receiving gifts, having already been given more than anyone's share of bounty in the form of this life, this family, this love and of that, I can give continuously back in my own imperfect, human, womanly way and this is what I plan to do until I cannot do it any more.
Beans and rice. Sky and water. Man and woman. I will celebrate all of that which is human and ours to enjoy.
Comfort and joy. For me this year, not to be sought in places I know I will not find it.
And that is the truth.