The holidays suck.

Cooper Christmas, 1952

Sorry, if I offend those with perfect families, secret Santas, and all the wonderful magic I’ve seen on the silver screen. But for those of us from dysfunctional families, these weeks at the end of the year are anything but joyous. Wild staggering emotions course through my body and I vacillate between weeping and pretending that I am okay. I know I’m SUPPOSED to feel happy and deck the halls, etc., but all I really want to do is climb under the covers and pray that 2022 hurries its arrival.

Once upon a time in my youngness, I had both sets of great-grand parents, grandparents and parents to selfishly celebrate the holidays. Dad always found a tall and perfect Douglas fir, Mom had a set of exquisite glass ornaments, and tinsel covered the branches top to bottom. The base vanished in the sea of presents, and all the relatives convened at our house for cocktails and dancing and dinner and gifts. It was deliciously wonderful to tumble down the stairs in my full-foot pajamas to find what Santa had left as a special gift, and make sure he had eaten his cookies and had at least a sip of his milk.

As the relatives aged out and passed on, the party grew smaller. My father’s philandering impossible to hide, the alcoholic infused bickering more often, and eventually my parents divorced. That started the chain-reaction struggle between who ‘got’ me and my siblings for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day.

My mother remarried, adding my step-father’s family, and his kids’ kids. My Dad ran through a series of very young girlfriends, and I was never sure what kind of gift I should take to his house.

When I married, I added my husband’s parents and his sister’s family to the balancing act. They all lived in Texas, which added air travel and accommodation arrangements. When we divorced, our children’s holidays were divided by an additional two. He remarried, and his new wife’s family added to the mix, along with their new children.  My kids now faced the never-ending push/pull that my siblings and I suffered.

My sister, maybe the only smart one, moved to Idaho, and took a job that required she work through the holidays. No one expected her body to ever appear at a family gathering.

When I remarried, my husband’s family, siblings and their traditions fed the already burdened dance card. While this might seem like – oh, hooray – such a big party to enjoy, it was simply pure hell. The numbers continued to exponentially multiply, as well as the expectations of attendance at every gathering.

Neither of my sons has married (probably wise – one of them is schizoaffective bi-polar and homeless), and so there are no grandkids to spoil with a mountain of presents. My parents are both deceased, along with my brother, and my sister remains still in Idaho.  Instead of any large gathering, this year, I will celebrate Christmas Eve with my oldest son, his ex-girlfriend and my ex-husband. Something to be said about ex-es. I’m not going to waste energy on bah-humbug, but instead, will count my blessings for a rather wild and possibly a-typical ride to this particular moment.  

Merry Christmas to all… and to all, a good night.

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