“There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own.” Herman Melville
As the rhythmic tick and tock of holidays fade, like OCD worked corduroy or a disastrous cherry Kool-Aid spill -- the evidence of skid marks combine with shiny patches of spackle throughout the house and soul to become nothing but the history of dead repairs and hard feelings, stored away in luggage of the never to be touched again, until the next year.
And that’s just the inside stuff.
Do I seem like someone you should be that comfortable with?
This thought comes up every holiday and although to me the answer seems obvious, I don’t think many others get it. I get fat in the fall to store up enough energy to survive this – mentally I end up dead without hope about half way in, a raggedy Andy to be abused with love by people commenting about how unsocial I’ve become as I’ve aged, and my weight. It’s like an endless loop that repeats every year. People drain me and I’m afraid that they will one day organize enough to put their feral minds together and decide to rub me out. I don’t like or trust groups and I don’t feel that this is irrational in any way – history is on my side folks – I have stories, and can show you bones that have been picked. My feelings on this have actual bonifides. There is a paper trail.
(I’m not a people person, though I can be warm and fuzzy in a squeaky toy kind of way with individuals that don’t carry sticks or weaponized words.)
The morning after my family arrived, I woke up before dawn to have coffee on the couch and to watch business TV, the way I always do. The TV wouldn’t come on, and I found a pair of pliers propped up on the table next to the screen. I noticed the pliers because they were bright and festive in color and that they had a substantial comfort grip, and that they were located right next to the fucking TV.
I pressed the TV button again and the TV started up, just like nothing had ever happened, but I knew something had happened and that it had changed me – or perhaps it just made me more unchangeable – family, right?
From there it got worse -- stuff got rearranged in the kitchen – coffee supplies suddenly hodge-podged and mixed with the teas, diseases being spread from person to person in less than random ways– lots of crazy disorder done in an inventively grinding sort of way – basically, a lot of things not being done my way, or in any sensible way that I could figure out -- I speak English but understand that Spanish and German are legitimate languages – this was different than that – this wasn’t poorly pronounced Klingon – this was rips in the fabric of time wrong. All this shit going on around me seemed irregularly irregular – sort of an atrial fibrillation of a social madness disorder. My vexation increased.
I have learned from French cooking (mise en place) that things need to be organized before you start – that order and growth come from fixed and structured beginnings – but all this chaos of sturm und drang distanced me rapidly from those around me. I might not be as flexible as I used to be, maybe I never was, but god knows I’ve become more structured, fixed and ridged since the winter games began around here.
I found myself in the upstairs bedroom with a chair forced under the doorknob, just in case. I stored the new towels under the bed --the scratchy old ones placed in the bathrooms for the company. I found myself sneaking out the 2ndfloor window to get away – jumping into the outside bushes seemingly the better choice to whatever I was imagining. I kept my street clothes on while sleeping, including soft shoes.
I endured, and now it’s over.
(I actually love and value my extended family. Go figure.)
Next year I plan a to send out a family Christmas letter begging forgiveness, until then, Happy Holidays!