Friday, December 25, 2009

Yea! Buddy's On!

Thank you for showing Elf, USA Network! I love Buddy.

A rather more Christmasy memory of 2009

My uncle is a complicated man. Until about 20 years ago he was driven by success and money. He believed (perhaps still believes) that success and money give him power, gain him acceptance, if not love. This attitude makes him a bit of a dick at times. His slow, slow but inexorable deterioration due to Parkinson's has not improved his disposition or his outlook.

To tell our story, his and mine, two things must be included: (1) His life was shaped in large part by his service in Viet Nam and (2) while he may have been unpleasant to others in my family, I have never had a gripe about how he has treated me personally. I have many girlhood recollections of his kindness and fun we had together, and I keep those always at the forefront of my memory when I deal with the sick, grumpy, difficult old man he has become.

Which is why chatting with him last night (Christmas Eve) was so touching.

He doesn't join us for family holiday celebrations anymore. His days are often bad ones and he isn't up to having many people around. But he sent a gift for me to over to my mom's house, and he called to be on the phone with me when I opened it. The package mostly contained old family -- OK, old family pet -- photos. But there were also a pair of old notes, one from 1994 and one from 2003, that I sent him. I was thanking him for introducing me to the Beatles back in February 1964. I was very moved that he had kept them all these years, that he had moved them with him from house to house, and saddened that he returned them to me. It was his way of letting me know he appreciates me, and of making sure they aren't disposed of when he dies.

I was sad to learn, too, that he didn't understand my Christmas gift to him. Enclosed with his card were a letter from Operation Shoebox and a list of goodies donated to soldiers in his name. He said he saw "something" in the card but couldn't really "follow" it.

Oh well, I guess it doesn't matter, really. He seemed just as happy that I sent him a card, and two soldiers in Afghanistan had a happier holiday because of the stuff they received.

Portrait of Amy

WARNING: This is not a Christmasy, sentimental post. It's just something I need to get off my chest (and into my blog) so I can get past it and feel Christmasy and sentimental. If you're not prepared for a bit of bitchy today, please don't read on.

Recently my friend Mindy and I were discussing the March sisters and wondered if anyone reads Little Women, meets the character of Amy and says, "Hey! That's me!"

I don't know if my kid sister has ever read Little Women, much less seen herself in the character of Amy, but she certainly could. For the description of the baby of the March family on SparkNotes reads, "She is given to pouting, fits of temper, and vanity; but she does attempt to improve herself."

My 44-year-old baby sister is sharp-tongued, yet insists on seeing herself as weak and put upon. She also has a tremendous sense of entitlement. Her happiness, her comfort, is everyone else's responsibility and she never fails to view me in the worst possible light because it supports her self perception as sensitive, powerless, unappreicated heroine.

I don't want to go into detail on the Christmas 2009 manifestation, but let's just say I wish she was more comfortable smoking indoors at my mom's house. In holidays gone by, she would have gone downstairs with my mom, had a cigarette and complained about how awful I am. Then, once she had her smoke, she would calm down a bit. I never knew exactly what was said about me, but I could tell by the looks she would shoot me that I was in her doghouse. However this year, she stood in the kitchen, washing dishes with my mother, and complained about how awful I am while I was within earshot. I was on the phone with my uncle, who asked to talk to me and my mom but no one else in the family -- maybe that's part of why she's so bitchy, I don't know -- but I heard every word she said about me. I was only a few feet away.

As the tension between us mounted, I left the room and called a cab to come take me home. I wanted to get out of there, I ached to get to church, I wanted to remember the true meaning of Christmas. My niece, the other most-frequent target of "Amy's" ire, followed me and wanted to make sure I was OK. I assured her that I was and kept my feelings about her mother to myself. My niece knows what her mother is like, after all, and besides, IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!!

I was distracted all through the candlelight service. I am angry at myself for that. I was just suddenly so weary, so angry, so hurt that I couldn't be in the moment. So I'm trying to cleanse myself of the upset by posting. I want to feel Christmasy on Christmas Day.