Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's what we do in this family

I called my mother, speaking to her for the first time since our awkward parting on Christmas Eve. I figured that she's old now, she's forgetful, she's not well and she's not going to change. Whatever happened on Christmas Eve shouldn't ruin whatever time we have left. (My sister, though, she's a more prickly situation …)

Anyway, my mom was very chatty, thanking me time and again for my gifts, merrily reporting on my niece and nephew. More than once I was tempted to say, "Do you want to talk about it?" OK, I was dying to SHOUT it! But that's me, that's not my mom, nor my sister. Their style is passive-aggressive. To act out a bit, and then spackle over the problem, pretending it's gone away.

Their style is not my style. For I believe (to quote Carrie Fisher) that nothing is every really over, just "over there." But my mom was raised by a pair of alcoholics and is desperately confrontation-averse. She's also 70+ and my mother and I love her despite of her flaws. Her parents messed hers up, mine messed me up, and if I had a daughter, I'd probably mess her up, too. It doesn't mean she doesn't love me. It means we must accept one another in order to enjoy the time we have left.

PS I got your message and thank you, Snarkela. You're so dear. I'm afraid, though, that what our dustup refers back to is too painful to discuss just now. But I'm so grateful that you're out there.

Of Zoey and Jeremy and Neil

It wasn't a good Christmas and I just can't shake it. Perhaps someday I will blog about the details, but I can't right now. Instead I'm comforting myself by wondering how the kids at the children's home -- Zoey and Jeremy and Neil -- enjoyed their presents.

Zoey got the coat she asked for, in pink, with along with a pair of Dora the Explorer sunglasses. I tossed in the sunglasses because I wanted her to have a little fun, just in case the coat is a tad utilitarian a gift. I bought Jeremy sweats and a miniature book about Rudolph because a clothes gift can be lightened with some reindeer games. And Neil got the pajamas he asked for, plus a picturebook tie-in to Disney's 3-D Christmas Carol with Marley's apparition on the cover because ghouls can be cool to an 8-year-old boy.

I also think about my donations to the toy drive at work -- especially the special retelling of Marley and Me and the package of holiday-themed lipglosses, hoping that a kid with an affinity for pets and a girl who dreams of make-up received them.

I am fortunate that giving can fill me with joy. That I have enough imagination to visualize faces to go with the names. It means I have happy memories to attach to Christmas 2009, no matter what. I don't want to become like my friend, John, who refers to December 25 as "just a day."

New Year, New Template

It was time for a change. This is bolder and cleaner. Perhaps it's foreshadowing what's in store for 2010. (What do you think, Snarks?)