I’m not a fan of the holidays. I really like getting to see my close friends, though. The other day, at Sparrow’s house, I got to see Miss DeLoop, Miss Silver Squid, and Namaste for a good long while. We made cookies and generally carried on. It was great. And last weekend, I got to see some of the crew, too, at Barney’s for dinner. And tonight, Sparrow and Kea are having people in (it’s Christmas Eve). It’ll be a family affair. It’s fun to see people. That’s the part I like. Family of choice is great. I love seeing my friends, the people I chose to have in my life. New Year’s will be the same thing. But I can’t say that I have a sentimental attachment to the holidays themselves. At least, not a good one. To me, having to deal with my blood and their obligation-laden demands is trying at best, painful at worst. It just seems to bring out the yelling, door-slamming, self-centeredness and general wretchedness in the McRicketts-McGees. We’re allergic to Christmas. We break out in tears.
When I told my mother that Thanksgiving and Christmas didn’t mean anything to me, she took it personally, like I had somehow done something to her. The whole thing started a couple of years ago when she started talking about what I would do when I had a family of my own, and what my tree would look like. Not asking me what I would do, mind you, but speculating on how she thought my tree would look. So I piped up.
“I don’t think I’ll have a tree. Not unless my partner really wants one, and wants to do it all. I don’t really care. It’s a lot of hassle.”
“But don’t you want to inherit my Christmas decorations?” Ugh, that horrible singing snowman you put on you mantle? You have bad taste. Your shit is tacky in a cheap, ugly way. You have no sense of style, and you love things that make noise when you walk by. You know I hate these things. Plus, the cats you have now pee on things.
“Why? I’m not a Christian. It isn’t my holiday.” You don’t know anything about me because you don’t listen to me. You just wait for me to stop talking.
“You were baptized in the Church. You’re still a Christian.”
“Okay. I don’t celebrate it. Jesus is not my Lord and Savior.”
She goes for another tactic.
“Don’t you want a tree? What about the smell?”
“You have a fake tree now, don’t you?”
“Why are you trying to upset me? Why are you doing this to me?” And she started to cry.
Yes, Moms, I am doing this to you! It’s all a plot to destroy Christmas for you. Once again, I am a terrible daughter. This is the woman who, about a year and a half ago, told me she would like me to get married in a chapel, and how she wanted to invite all the people she only sees annually. What the fuck, Moms? Are you high? High on narcissism. Because my wedding would be about you, of course! Not about me, the woman who hasn’t ever voluntarily set foot in a church unless it was to go into the gift shop and get some tacky Catholic merchandise. If I went to services, it was because you insisted, not because I felt the need to personally go.
I think she also has fake memories of us having good holidays together. This has never, ever happened in the history of our family. They have ranged from weird to nuclear. I can’t remember, as an adult, having one that didn’t involve someone crying, someone saying something that shouldn’t have been said, someone trying so fucking hard to just keep their fucking mouth shut, and everyone just wanting it to be over.
Oh, and did I mention that my mother isn’t that good a cook? She isn’t. Her turkey is dry and bland. Her sides are boring. My motto is, Never pass up an opportunity to put flavor in your food. Hers is, How can I speed up this process? I’d really rather be reading a book right now. I mean, the woman is so excited about crockpot lasagna I can’t even tell you. That shit is ill. A crockpot is never supposed to meet a lasagna. That’s some Dr. Frankenstein shit. Or discovering a baby won’t cry if you put whiskey in its milk. Just wrong all around. Why would you want to introduce these things to one another? So many questions, no good answers. Her wild rice sausage stuffing is pretty good, but her vegetables are usually greasy and overcooked. It’s kind of a sad state of affairs, really. And she thinks she’s a great cook, too, which makes matters worse. This year, she’s ordering pre-made fucking food from a grocery store, to make matters worse. Why, why would you do that? I don’t understand. But that’s what she wants to do, so whatever, I’m just a passerby to the crime scene. I do not endorse this shit, not at all.
Moms always invites wingnuts. She hates that people don’t have a place to go. That’s noble. I, however, do not like these people. Lonely people are lonely and have nowhere to go because they are unpleasant. So all the strays have something wrong with them. I know, you think I’m overreacting. Okay. There have been:
- the former Breatharian (this is someone who lives on the chi of the universe and does not eat food or take liquids with calories–he was so upset when he found out the leaders of the movement were cheating and eating) who showed up with his script for a play about Charles Manson (that he researched by visiting Manson in jail extensively) handcuffed in a briefcase to his wrist. This man was invited back on numerous occasions, until the underage Thai hooker fiasco. I don’t see why my mother was so surprised that he would fuck underage prostitutes and marvel at their youth like a run-of-the-mill pedophile. You knew what he was when you picked him up. You loved how “novel” he was. It’s that novelty that makes him unstable and creepy
- the gay couple who both had severe brain injuries and short-term memory loss who couldn’t remember anything for more than five minutes at a time. They were nice, but really hard to have a conversation with and threw the whole table into kind of a spin
- the lady with Borderline Personality Disorder who became agitated, anxious, paranoid and extremely volatile at the table
- the couple in which the man sold magnet health products for a living and tried to sell everyone his wares during dinner
- the bipolar man who was heavily medicated and unable to use his mouth properly (he still wanted to eat the turkey leg with his hands) who passed out at the table
- the recovering alcoholic from my mother’s senior fitness class who told stories of his children and grandchildren dying (his “own personal 9/11”) during dinner
- the lady who riffed off of the above stories and told graphically of her diabetic husband’s feet being amputated, and of her then footless husband dying in her minivan. He proceeded to haunt the car for months afterward (“You can go to the light, John, just go to the light”)
- the woman who decided right after dinner was the best time to describe her method of preparing fresh cow brains for cooking (“You just use some sharp cooking shears to cut off the outer membrane and they just fall apart, into a pile of mush”)–my brother almost threw up
So this is what I have to look forward to! Last year, I told my mom I didn’t want anymore wingnuts. That lasted exactly one holiday. (This was the worst holiday of all!) She has been again inviting people who have nowhere else to go back to her house, and insisting they are not wingnuts. I am not so sure I will not hear another inappropriate story. It’s true, sometimes you hit pay dirt, but I would pass to have just a normal dinner. No gynecological (yes, this has happened) or medical stories, no politics, no religion (ugh, so much of this), no stories about death, no farting at the table, no asking me about my medication (Moms tells everyone all my business and lies to me about that). I mean, really, do we have to have a course on manners? I think we do.
I had a migraine on Easter, and Thanksgiving I had that terrible cold, so this year I’ve gotten off easy. I really have to show up for Christmas this year, and eat store-bought “prime” “rib” with two strange women and one of their sons. It’s really, really important to Moms. As important to her as it’s unimportant to me. I need to lay down my grievances and show up for her as cheerfully and good-naturedly as I can.
This is not easy for a little Seer. Little Seer remembers some shit. Little Seer has been wronged, man. Yeah, and? That’s not important. What’s important is that I can show up and be of service to Moms on her day. I complain of her self-centeredness. Then I need to be selfless. It’s the only way I get out of that resentment. It may sound crazy, but it’s been shown to me time and time again that it’s true.
I also have one great tool in my kit for getting through all holiday dinners: washing the dishes. I eat quickly, then start washing everything. No one can complain, because I’m of service, and I’m productive, and I don’t have to participate in any of this madness. I strongly recommend this route to anyone trapped with their families this holiday season. Wash some shit. You’ll be amazed at how far it can get you.
Merry Christmas, my dunnies. I hope you escape unscathed.