Saturday, December 24, 2011
"When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it - but all that had gone before." Jacob Riis
I’m in a piss poor mood this Christmas Eve morning and two bags of M&M’s haven’t helped a bit. In fact I’ve gotten more po’d with every little M&M I’ve munched. (I’ll be pissed off about the M&M’s themselves later when I have to squeeze into the dress I’m wearing to dinner). So I apologize beforehand, but this is going to be a rant. A rant about myself.
Yesterday I was spending the 94% percent of the day that I allot to fb, dutifully fulfilling my obligation. I read a post from a girl I barely knew in high school who was responding to another girl I knew even less in high school. She wrote that she was spending her first Christmas alone, away from her daughter and grandkids and she said that she had a revelation the night before that she was reaping what she had sowed. It seems that after a lifetime of painful Christmas’s she had let her alcoholic father spend Christmas’s alone in a nursing home because he didn’t fit into her “Norman Rockwell” (her words) Christmas and now she felt that she was being repaid for her lack of kindness toward her father. I wrote back and said she had already paid her dues with the Christmas’s she had endured and that her now deceased father wouldn’t want her to suffer anymore because of him and that she had done what she needed to do to stop her own pain. She wrote back and thanked me profusely.
I sat back for a moment with a puffed out chest, thinking, “At least I never ruined any of my kids Christmas’s with a drunken tirade or made a drunken fool of myself.” My superiority was very short-lived because I suddenly realized that I had been spared that particular offense because I had removed myself from my kids’ Christmas’s years ago. If I think back hard enough I can remember the last one we spent together, my youngest was a senior in High School and I remember the look that passed between him and my oldest when they noticed the glass of Jack Daniels and Diet Pepsi in my hand. It was 11:00 am in the morning and I had already drank my celebratory bottle of Asti. That was eleven years ago and I haven’t spent a Christmas with my kids since. Since then I’ve spent my Christmas’s on a sailboat in the Bahama’s or the Virgin Islands, or in a crappy hotel while the cap’n worked, or down here in Mexico. I told myself that it was my choice. I told myself it was less stressful on the kids if they had one less parent to worry about in the quagmire that had become Christmas with my ex-husband and his now ex-wife and her blended family and then their own wives and their blended families. I told myself we could celebrate Christmas another time, but we never did. I told myself it didn’t matter, Christmas was just another day. I told myself a whole shitload of lies and then I washed them down with Jack Daniels until I believed them.
So here it is Christmas Eve and I am alone down here in Mexico. I don’t think I mentioned it before, but the cap’n is NOB in CO working, so I am totally alone for the first time in my life and it is Christmas. Oh, I have my friends and they are keeping me busy, actually too busy, but it’s not the same. And I don’t even have my old amigo, Jack Daniels, to convince me that it is okay. It’s not. I have had too many years of too many compromises in which my bargaining power itself was compromised by alcohol. No mas.
OMG! I just felt a transformation. What was anger when I started to write this rant has transformed itself into determination. Determination, what a wonderful old friend. I thought it had abandoned me but it showed back up about 102 days ago and I’m determined to convince it to stay. So suddenly I am determined to make this Christmas the advent of a new holiday tradition. From now on I am determined to make my Christmas’s ones of my own determination. I know that I can’t control all circumstances and that the Norman Rockwell Christmas is an unreachable aspiraton and to reach for the impossible only brings disillusion. But here is what I am determined to do. I am determined to be an active, fully present voice in the determination of how and where my holidays will be spent, if compromises are made they will be equal and not balanced by the ambivalence of alcohol. I am thankful for the renewed and strengthening relationships I have with my children and I am determined to continue to build on that strength so that if I do find that we are apart at Christmas I will have the peace of knowing that they love me and that I have been the best mother/grandmother that it is within my power to be. I am determined to stay sober and to feel the true tidings that the season brings whether they be of joy, or loss, or sadness and know that every feeling is necessary to make up this wondrous thing we call life. I am determined not to compromise on these determinations.
It’s not a long Christmas wish list but it is huge in the scope of gifts that it will bring my way. What more could I ask for?
So today I’m just out there asking Santa and my Co-Writer to fill my stocking with some extra determination and a few more of these Christmas transformations.