Sorry to disappoint you, kids, but this is not my favorite season. Many revel in comforting childhood memories of being snuggled close to the bosom of their families at Christmas - the drop in temperature immediately signaling a seasonal kindheartedness in them as they gleefully charge toward the holiday; jingle bells jangling, eager to fight holiday crowds and throw money at gifts soon forgotten. Unfortunately, this is not my experience. The implicit expectation of familial warmth and joviality coupled with the ubiquitous weight of a corporately manufactured ideology manipulating the masses to spend frivolously puts me in an uneasy disposition. In other words, 'tis the season and I'm irritable as hell.
I've noticed this about myself in the past, but the feelings are especially acute this year. I don't believe it's a coincidence that exactly ten years ago, I was reaching the depths of my ultimate *please, God* bottom with drugs and alcohol. Memories are blurry - there are a few specific and painfully demoralizing recollections, but mostly just awash of feelings of misery and desperation. I used to not put too much stock into the whole concept of seasonal moods, but these last few years, I've experienced anniversarial mood changes that cannot be mistaken. Like rheumatoid arthritis, the season rolls around and my knuckles swell uncomfortably.
Forgive me my humbuggery, but the carols, the lights, the rows of cut trees on street corners, those damned ringing bells; I simply don't like it. There is a certain muscle memory that fills me with foreboding. Maybe this is a useful thing; a warning of sorts, maybe it's the heightened intuition of my inner drama queen, either way, it's uncomfortable.
Of course, these vexatious seasonal feelings are conflated with the family situation. The longer I stay sober, the more clearly I can see just how unwell my family is. The need to show up for others countered to my own need to keep a safe and detached distance in order to take care of myself presents a difficult, often painful holiday conundrum.
There's also the heightened awareness of being single this time of year; having no "special someone" to shop for, or to snuggle with 'neath the twinkling Tannenbaum's boughs. It doesn't help.
As always, but especially so this season, I miss Nanny, my paternal grandmother, and my dog, Zeke. His absence is still so profound that I sometimes experience waves of a void so absolute that I have to catch my breath. The memory of their unconditional love for me fills me with an indescribable hope, and can oftentimes provide a conduit in me through which I might catch glimpses a Higher Power.
Current events aren't helping matters much. The Connecticut school shooting tragedy brilliantly illuminates the shameful and perverted relationship this country has with guns. Don't worry, I'm not gonna go off on a gun control rant here, I'll just quickly note that these atrocities don't happen anywhere else in the world with the same regularity as they do here. My basket of holiday cheer is neatly tied with a ribbon of disgust at the twisted and ongoing American gun-toting dogma. I'm just star-spangled sick of it.
One more thing and I'll end this gloomy and prattling X-mas post. Just in case you feel the warm tingly need to toss a few clams into one of those bell-ringing Santas' red buckets, know what the Salvation Army actually does with its money.
Gold bless us, every one.