I thought about this this morning when I just couldn’t sleep anymore and had to wait for the local store to open so I could get some more coffee (and frozen chopped spinach–can’t believe the mega grocery store near work didn’t have any last night).
I call myself a liar because at least a week before Christmas, I’ll start getting people asking me “what are you doing for Christmas?” The same thing millions of others get asked every year. And for each person, my answer changes.
That’s the liar in me.
I know what’s coming if I tell the truth: gonna stay home, clean house, cuddle with the dogs, watch the fish, referee squawking matches between the parrot and the parakeets, try out some new recipes, fire up the barbecue pit, have some wine, play some music, and enjoy the fireplace if it’s cold enough (or hang out on the porch if it’s warm enough).
Just about everybody I know would find that really damned depressing and insist on my coming over.
It’s gonna be a full day, or couple of days, rather. My house is a total wreck, the result of being ill off and on for weeks and just in a general depressive malaise. Some of it I just had to try and get over, and some of it not of my own making–I need to ask questions regarding my old house and how to get that title thing straightened up and they closed the office for the whole freaking week.
Stupid Texas department. People still need to get their paperwork straightened out around the holidays, dammit.
Because of my intense anger at the things I just can’t control (yet) and my general state of being, I just don’t want to be around people this holiday. If a neighbor comes by or wants me to come by, I’ll stop over and be friendly for a bit, but it’s a time for all their family who came in, so I’d rather just wish them well and be on my way.
The older I get, the more I’ve just gotten used to being alone for Christmas, or most holidays.
For most people, the holidays are about the food. It gets hard for me when somebody starts pushing food. I was raised a member of the “clean plate club” and have never been good at saying “no thank you” (especially when it’s dumped on my plate anyway). It was worse if I got it for myself because dad would eventually see the seconds on my plate and he’d go, “do you really need that?”
Well, I’ve been told it’s rude not to eat what’s on your plate, and if somebody puts it on there, I guess I must become the Incredible Mad Cow and grow another stomach (hell, the tire around my middle often makes it look like I have two, anyway). Dad’s food shaming tactics didn’t help me. Eventually I got to the point I felt I embarrassed him and just didn’t wanna eat around other people.
I just realized how bad that sounded. And maybe that’s that other reason I couldn’t define as to why I didn’t want to go anywhere the past several years.
But before he died, we had a standing invite to go to his best friend’s place (I’ve called him Adam in previous posts). The last three times, I said no thanks. The idea of spending the day trying to stay out of the way, often stuck watching TV, surrounded by a cloud of cigarette smoke that makes me sneeze all the next day and jump in the shower as soon as I get home… yeah. But dad would be having a good time hanging with his buddy, smoking and shooting guns and talking politics. It was either small talk inside or to be the butt of jokes from the guys. I usually went on the back steps, mentally screaming in boredom while I stared at the landscape.
One of my friends said that at least I wasn’t alone. Actually, those holidays were already damned lonely; it just took me a while to notice it. There was no real place for me; I just tagged along and tried not to let my stomach growl too loud while waiting for dinner.
I decided I wasn’t going anymore about five years ago. I told dad, “he’s your friend, not mine, and I don’t care about turkey that much anyway.” I told him to go, at least for a while, that way he could hang out with his friend for a day and then come home. Instead, he told them about me going elsewhere and he was gonna stay home.
Ugh, I was always the convenient out. I think I spent most of the day at Starbucks on Thanksgiving or Christmas having conversations with random strangers and baristas or writing and people watching.
Better holidays were somewhat awkward, but FAR better with my Sister-By-Choice and her extended family. No food-shaming, no pushing-food, nothing like that. You tried what you wanted, and I’d even take a few things home with me to help them out a bit (I’d put empty food containers in the backseat just in case). One year I made my first bread pudding for breakfast so her mom didn’t have to try and figure something out for the grandkids while she cooked dinner on every surface.
Those holiday gatherings were fun, even though dad wasn’t there. He’d never go some place where he barely knew the people, but would rather sit and watch TV.
That brings me to today and why I’d rather spend the holiday alone. There are a few people who have offered to have me over to their houses, the first being Adam, and my boss another. She’s got family to deal with and I’d be the ultimate odd one out. Sure, I could play with the kiddos and keep them out of her hair, but she wouldn’t have me over as a babysitter. My general lack of social skills sucks in these moments, and I’m sure the question on some people’s minds would be “uh, who’s that and what’s she doing here?”
It feels like pity, even though I’m sure it’s not. Pity that I don’t have family to be around this time a year, and oh what a tragedy that is. Nah. Not up for it.
Well, the big thing is this state titling issue has just made me too annoyed and hurt to be around other people. I’ve spent the past few months going back-and-forth with the state titling office for the old mobile home, which is still in dad’s name, and I have to explain over and over things they should already know. Things about my family situation and my dad, which just opens up old wounds. I’m burned out about anything to do with dad right now, and going to Adam’s house is not gonna help my temper or my depression.
Adam sounded down on the phone last week, checking up on me and making sure to invite me (my first lie–I said I was gonna hang with some co-workers that day and didn’t wanna disappoint them). He’s had medical problems since I was in diapers, and he’s getting worse and worse. He’s at the point he wants to just die already, and he says he understands how my dad felt just before his time was up (he also never blamed him for his suicide, probably the only other person besides me who didn’t).
Maybe I’m selfish, but after hearing that, I REALLY didn’t want to go over there.
Every time he gets on the phone, he gets to reminiscing about my dad. Hearing his moroseness, and then remembering the day I got the call over and over again… yeah, I’m not good company. And I’d be crying and screaming in the car all the way home after leaving that house tomorrow if that’s the way Adam’s gonna be, totally down and depressed.
The other thing is family that lives within an hour of me. I have cousins down south that I could probably meet, but they’ve got their own lives and I barely know them. Mom’s sister used to have this all-day gathering, a come-when-you-can thing. Mom would show and it was kinda funny how either an old Christmas movie or the the damn Hallmark channel was on for noise.
Those flicks always had some nice Norman Rockwell looking dinner and wine for the adults at a long table.
We were in the kitchen and yard doing jello shots and eating finger food around the fire pit, or riding a golf cart around the neighborhood.
Those holidays were pretty good, and I felt a little more adult at them because I knew some of the people there and my aunt was never too busy to make introductions if I didn’t know anybody. My cousins would drop by for a little bit and then take off.
But now that aunt is gone and my cousins I wouldn’t recognize if I bumped into them in the street. I just let things go, which is a bad habit I have, but after years of trying to get addresses and such, I just gave up. They’re on Facebook, but I’m an inch away from quitting that. We have nothing in common and I just don’t see the point in re-establishing contact. We’re such strangers I’d have an easier time talking to real strangers in line at Starbucks than those two.
I’m trying to keep things afloat here and maybe look for a new job, something just as enjoyable but not quite so dead-end this time around. I have interests, but haven’t done much with them yet (at least, not enough to say “yes, this is a thing I do and like.”). I went to college, but haven’t done much with it. Yada, yada, yada…
Perhaps I’m a lousy bitch. I don’t know. I just got used to the lack of concern to the point where even if they reach out, I’m not up for it anymore. I’ve alienated most of my family with my depression and they don’t even know it. I have nothing going on in my life, no real career to speak of, while they’ve got kids and are building theirs.
I think that’s another reason I don’t want to be around people this holiday: all the well-meaning advice. I just started really thinking about the possibility of a new job (have to polish my damned resume again, ugh), and what I want most. The last thing I want is a list of job resource sites to go to (usually the exact same list mentioned half a dozen times before) and being asked “have you checked out blah-blah school district?” (for the dozenth time).
No, because I just made this decision 24 hours ago, dammit! And I’ll have to do some serious professional development courses every chance I get to keep my certification alive, too (boy, the price as gone up on those).
I’m not up for it, and I can’t lie for very long very convincingly. I’m sick of being the one person who seems to be happy outside but can’t get their shit together on the inside.
I admit, I’m a lonely person and will have to work on that. But I am choosing to be alone this Christmas because I have too many things I want (and need) to do, and travel and small-talk are not among them. I’ll get enough phone calls, I’m sure, or texts, but I can clean and talk at the same time.
I made a promise to get my act together for 2020, and I have a lot of things to do at home before that silly turn of the calendar. My holiday plans may come across as pathetic for some, those used to the hustle and bustle of family and friends all over the house or yard, but I don’t care.
It’s what I need right now–for myself–so that perhaps one day the house will be full of living, breathing beings that aren’t feathered, finned, or with floppy ears.
By then, I’ll be loving every minute of it, as the holidays (supposedly) should be.
And that’s the truth.
Be well in celebrating however you wish (just be careful on the road–they call it “defensive driving” for a reason). All the best to you and yours.
–The Chatty Introvert