Posts Tagged ‘holidays’
Many may disagree, but I believe being single is an art. Some people are better off alone, but most of us crave company. Long before we are old enough to date, we tend to function in pairs. We have favorite siblings, best friends, and special relationships with one or both parents. We aren’t well-adapted to functioning without partnerships of one sort or another.
Being single doesn’t come naturally to most. I didn’t marry for 10 years after I moved away from home. This gave me more than a decade to practice the art of living single. I never perfected the skill, but I became good at functioning as a unit–even if most of my free-time was spent trying to figure out how to change my status from “single” to something more cooperative.
Most of my girlfriends got married soon after high school. I followed college with an apartment and a job. I spent most of my time doing the things that singles do. That decade would have been better-spent trying to accomplish something of import, but I mostly went from place-to-place having good times.
The world is biased in favor of the traditional lifestyles. One would think that singles should have more fun, but many things are tailored to those who are coupled, married or raising children. At no time is this more true than during the holidays. This is unfortunate, because those who are alone may find themselves facing loneliness, malaise or depression.
There are no Valentine cards designed to be “returned to sender”. There are no Thanksgiving cards depicting a table-for one, nor Christmas cards featuring a lone soul enjoying a grand tree without gifts–or people with whom to share them. Unless you are orphaned, chances are you don’t spend every holiday alone, but even Mormons & Catholics sometimes find themselves flying solo through the holidays. I have. One needn’t be a psychologist to realize people don’t like being alone on days which are symbolic of warmth and love.
I’ve spent many holidays alone. I suppose there was a time when it bothered me, but it’s been so long ago, I don’t remember. At some point in time, I had adjusted my mindset and it no longer bothered me. I began to think of holidays as days on a calendar with only exactly as much significance as I placed on them. I could celebrate them (or not) and not feel disadvantaged if I should find myself alone.
One Thanksgiving I was hanging out in my apartment, without a dinner invitation, it was just another Thursday. On that day, a girlfriend called me. She had contracted a severe case of holiday blues, because she was without a place-card at anyone’s Thanksgiving table. I suggested she come over for Thanksgiving dinner. I didn’t have a Thanksgiving dinner, but I figured we’d throw together something.
On that cold & rainy November day, we jumped in my truck and headed to the nearest grocer to buy the stuff we’d need for our impromptu feast. A turkey would have been two large, so we settled for a small chicken, which was large enough to take away holiday despondency. Having a chicken, made it no less Thanksgiving than it would have been with a turkey. We enjoyed a very nice afternoon, preparing our repast and the knowledge of being there for each other. We easily rose above what might have been too sad to celebrate. The fond memory of that Thanksgiving signifies an important knowledge and practice. I knew beyond that day, I could define and enjoy my own holiday–with or without family.
So if a broiling hen is as good as a tom turkey, would the holiday lose anything if it were celebrated with a turkey sub or chicken nuggets? Where are the rules on which activities are acceptable or a line determining how far one can depart from tradition before the holiday is canceled out? I haven’t answered that, but I’ve come close.
I remember one Christmas, when after the presents were opened and the wrappings discarded, my brother was bored. He suggested a trip to the car wash. Washing cars on Christmas Day is not part of holiday tradition, but my brother can be very compelling. Before long, he & I were headed to the car wash–not the drive-thru, but the U-Wash-It. A pocketful of quarters buys the opportunity to clean your own car with a jet-engine-loud vacuum and 8 minutes of soapy water sprayed out of a turbo-charged water gun. (Hot Wax only 50 cents extra).
On a cold December day, wielding water guns would be odd, but on Christmas day it seemed ludicrous. Nevertheless, I’ve always been a team player. We vacuumed, sprayed, shammied and laughed. While others were sitting in theaters watching the latest Christmas film release, we were outside playing with water guns. Far from tradition, but much more fun than sitting silently in a dark theater. Other Christmases, with him, we’ve improvised Christmas trees from bushes and branches, shoveled driveways, invented delays to torture the kids by keeping them from their presents until well after noon, and generally enjoyed the very best of holidays.
Though a roasted goose & plum pudding may sound like the perfect holiday, I’ve come to realize a chickens or a car wash can be even better. In this season when many people experience the letdown of coming to terms with a-less than Dickens holiday, a little advice to those who find themselves alone.
When you were little, adults defined what traditions you’d embrace. Unless you still need adult supervision for everything, it’s time to enjoy being all-growed up. This is what you dreamed of as a kid, you’re finally in charge and you get to make the rules for your holidays. Which means that Valentine’s day doesn’t have to be about romance. Thanksgiving can be celebrated with cheeseburgers. Christmas can be spent doing whatever you feel like doing. Of course it’s better if you don’t spend it alone, but remember there will be others, who being held hostage by their families, will be wishing they could trade places with you.
Your life is NOT a made-for-TV movie, nor is it a Hallmark card. Once you accept this, you may find it can be even more perfect and every bit as beautiful.
Certainly, Charles Dickens was referring to the holiday season when he penned those words. It is the best of times for children who have the luxury of just waiting for the sweets, gifts & festivities. It is the worst of times for those who attempt to orchestrate the magic.
Fall is fading, and the holiday season, with it’s shopping-days numbered, is upon us. There are only a few weeks in which to hang lights, buy gifts, prepare the house, abuse the credit cards and become a testy wreck before the holidays.
I’m not a Grinch, but the season exhausts me. Each year, I vow to simplify, to separate the tinsel from the tangible to focus on what really matters. Then, before you can say “On Dasher and Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen”, I’m in the kitchen making red & green popcorn balls, or braiding boughs of holly. I’d enjoy Christmas more if it wasn’t over so quickly. I like having a tree, lights and decorations, but the effort required for them, never seems to be worth their short-lived glory.
Still each year, as I put away the dishes from the Thanksgiving feast, I am eager knowing once the wishbone is broken, the Christmas season has begun. I anxiously wait for the first moment of awe for the newly hung Christmas lights, and the time when it is officially acceptable to play Christmas carols.
I don’t mind the shopping, cooking or cleaning, but dread the decorating and despise the wrapping of gifts. I am inconvenienced by the way that the month of December is commandeered by invitations and obligations. I fear the inadequacy I’d feel if I didn’t bake cookies for the kids or find the right presents.
I’ve put the Christmas mix on to get me into the right spirit. Listening to a few carols, I will contemplate the season and prepare my mind.
First cut: Deck the Halls
Who can resist the catchy tune with a fa-la-la-la-la refrain?!?
STOP! Don’t listen–it’s a trick! Subliminal programming intended to get me off the couch to start decorating. What is with the gay apparel line? Does this mean I have to wear awful garments given to me by well-meaning relatives without rolling eyes or asking for receipts? Guess, I’d better go retrieve the festive sweater his mother sent.
Fast forward: We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
That’s more like it–nothing but glad tidings in this song–and an edict to produce a figgy pudding. Mental note to self: Add figgies to my shopping list.
Skip that song . . What’s next?
Oh Christmas Tree
Delightful. Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree. How lovely are your branches.
If the branches are so lovely, why do they require three boxes of tiny twinkle lights and gobs of glittering glass from the attic? When do we get to the verse about how to get pine needles out of the carpet on January 3rd?
Here we go a Wassailing.
Dang, we’re fresh out of Wassail, which is too bad, because I could use a drink about now. Maybe I’ll just have a beer. Hey, that’s not bad. If I close my eyes, I can almost believe it’s wassail. In fact, I see tiny reindeer and a benevolent fat man running a sweatshop full of elves busy building me an iPhone.
What’s next on the mix?
Perfect, I’m tired. I think I’ll turn in and try Christmas again tomorrow. This holiday stuff is starting to make me feel warm & fuzzy–then again, it might just be the beer.
As holidays go, Labor Day isn’t one of my favorites. It makes me melancholy. Whereas Memorial Day is summer’s coming out party, Labor Day is its retirement. I don’t even like the name. Labor Day sounds like something for Marxist comrades or customer appreciation day in a maternity ward.
It needs a better spin. There are so many do-gooders out there, always renaming stuff, why haven’t they tackled this yet? How about something like No Deadlines Day, Play Hooky Day, or Sleep as Long as you’d like Day? A better name would help us all get into the proper mindset and really enjoy the day on which to indulge our slacker tendencies. It should have a name like Holiday for Those who Bust their Butts to sit on Theirs, or If I ever won the Lottery Day.
Labor Day confuses me. I’ve noticed that those who work the hardest, look forward to Labor Day weekend so they can go home and do other work–stuff like brake jobs or cleaning gutters. Since I don’t have a “real” job, I’m not even sure I am entitled to celebrate with those who do. I should probably opt out of Labor Day, to go fill-in for someone who is out water-skiing.
Every household has some kind of division of labor, but being the “unemployed” person in a marriage, is a peculiar position. It’s sort of hard to describe what I’m responsible for, but it’s sort of like being a Mafia “fixer”. I facilitate stuff that makes Beloved Soul Mate able to concentrate on what he does.
When we married, we made a pact. I’d do the girl stuff, he’d manage the guy stuff–a good old-fashioned sexist arrangement. Beloved Soul-Mate doesn’t wash dishes or sweep floors. I don’t change oil or repair things. (There are some exceptions, but you get the idea.)
Guy stuff includes everything automotive, anything involving power tools, moving heavy things, and dealing with disgusting things, as needed. Plunging toilets is SO not a girl thing! Additionally, he is responsible for insuring that checks written for necessary things like groceries and utilities, are always covered.
Girl stuff includes, writing checks for stuff like groceries, turning groceries into meals, bearing offspring and then doing one’s best to insure the offspring turn-out productive and likeable. There are other responsibilities like dishes and laundry, but the most important–but intangible thing–is finding stuff. It may not sound like much, but in a house with three males, there is always something misplaced. I am the person expected to know what happened to the cell phone, glasses, receipt, insurance policy, homework, permission slip, library book, clean socks, ketchup, the other kind of mustard, the preferred brand of deodorant, antiseptics, Ace bandages, jock straps and favorite t-shirts. On any given day, the ability to locate such things, is necessary to keep the earth from wobbling off its axis.
When I think about returning to the work force, I’m wondering if it’s too late to renegotiate our original labor agreement. If, against all odds, I were to return to work, theoretically, we would both be out of the house most of each week. I say theoretically, because my 40-hour week would be much shorter than his. Math whiz that he is, he has the ability to turn 40 hours into 60.
A full-time job would raise all kinds of questions. If I were to take a day job, all things having to do with school & kids would need to be divided. Who would then be in charge of rescuing the kid who forgot his permission slip or the one who ends up in the nurse’s office? Who makes breakfast? Who packs lunches? Who takes off work to take kids to the orthodontist appointments? Who is responsible for getting them to the myriad of after-school activities and sports practices?
There are enough parents out there juggling these things, I’m sure they could help me figure it out, but other questions remain. Who gets to shower first? I can roll out of bed and be out of the house in 25 minutes, so therefore I should go first, but since he’s less efficient, maybe he could wake up earlier and I could sleep for another 45 minutes while he was grooming. Who makes the bed? Last one out? Would he pack me a sandwich and a thermos of coffee each morning? If I’m as tired after work as he is, would anyone ever clean the shower?
Of course, the biggest question of all would be . . . when three day-weekends like Labor Day came around would we take the much-needed break or tackle the household jobs we never had time for???