Sometimes when I’m down on myself I find comfort in muttering “well God loves me just the way I am.” This is true… I guess…if you believe that stuff…could be the Cosmos, or Buddha, or even the Great Pumpkin. And then I try to apply this to other people who are at the moment behaving in a rather unlovable way. Sometimes though, I go sailing right past the limits of my patience and medication and that’s when I find myself thinking “OK, yea, sure, God loves you just as you are – but the rest of us need a break!”
I’m beginning to suspect that a large percent of the population who subscribe to the “I’m just fine and peachy keen just the way I am” have forgotten that they don’t live on a desert island. We all live together in the desert of the real. Those of us who are relatively sober and sane anyway.
I’m still in recuperation mode from Thanksgiving. I better get on the ball here and finish percolating and ruminating because Christmas is just around the corner. Having a large immediate family of 4 sisters and 2 brothers and all their children and significant others, the chances of making it through the holidays unscathed, without at least one person, and usually more than one, going bat shit crazy are slim to none.
This Thanksgiving was no exception of course. I went to New Orleans knowing full well what I was getting myself into or so I thought. Why do I keep doing this? It’s because it’s my family and I can’t just throw my hands up in the air and pretend they don’t exist. OK, sometimes I do go through periods of pretending this, but it’s not sustainable over the long run.
This season sent me a bit of a curve ball. A relative who just 6 months ago I initiated a failed intervention for alcoholism, was a clean and sober and behaved in a perfect lovely manner; helpful, talkative, a joy to be with. However, another relative who is usually pretty well pulled together, this time became completely unglued. This particular person is usually fastidious, well groomed, soft spoken, and kind. Every time I saw them they were in the same clothes, disheveled, ranting and raving, smelling of stale beer, throwing things, verbally attacking anyone who crossed their path and just in general acting like they needed a trip to the hospital in a padded wagon.
Unfortunately in New Orleans there is no padded wagon. Mental health care is in abysmal short supply in the U.S.; in New Orleans it is non-existent. If someone has a meltdown all the emergency room can do is shoot them full of tranquilizers or anti-psychotics and then turn them out on the street. Usually the hospital does not bother to inform the family that their loved one was put on the street in a bad part of town at 3:00 am.
I’m waffling back and forth about what to say to this relative who took temporary leave of their senses. Should I say anything at all? I don’t know. I think I’m going to have to because they have a mood spectrum disorder and claim to be handling it on their own. Unfortunately, this past Thanksgiving it was excruciatingly obvious that this is not the case.
So we survived Halloween by keeping the shutters closed and the porch light off. Oh what a party pooper you may say, but hear me out. Mr. Husband and I are the babies in our neighborhood. The majority of our neighbors are elderly and the only time a house goes up for sale around here is when someone died. There are no houses with children near us.
Any kids that show up here are bused in from who knows where and swarm all over the block scaring us half to death when they dart out into the street from between parked cars. I don’t like it. When I’m in a cynical mood I wonder if the parents are hoping for the opportunity for a juicy lawsuit. I prefer children that I at least know in passing, as in I trip over their tricycle when walking my dog, they throw a Tonka truck at my head, etc.
The holidays are always a weird time for me. It is particularly stressful for me because I have in-laws who have entirely different expectations of when and how to celebrate holidays. After going through this for years I have developed a deep-seated resentment because my in-laws tend to ignore the fact that I have my own family with their own expectations and ways of doing things. This is mostly my fault because I haven’t put my foot down and explained that I have a right to celebrate my way occasionally. Instead I’ve piled up a humongous debris tower of resentment.
I have bowed out a few times over the years and gone to be with my family for Thanksgiving. I always have a lot of fun even though my family gatherings can get a bit wild and crazy. So… what to do…what to do?
I’m going try to plan a bit this year and decide what I am willing and capable of doing. I’m going to send out Christmas cards this year. I haven’t for a few years, partly because I received a snippy reply from one of the card recipient’s informing me that I was wasting the earth’s precious resources and killing trees by sending out Christmas cards. Well, how rude! I removed them from my list and in an attempt to take the high ground I refrained from calling them and sharing my opinion that they should take up residence next door to the Grinch who stole Christmas.
So here I am facing the holidays again. It occurred to me while ruminating about this subject for the last few days is that Mr. Husband our past 10 years together has not joined me with my family for a holiday even once. It’s been his way or the highway, year after year. I’m not quite sure why I put up with this, but it’s starting to piss me off. Why do I do this to myself? I’ll just grin and bear something for years or even decades and then suddenly it’s a Mt. Vesuvius eruption of anger and resentment. Then I decide that I’m not going take it anymore and Yee Haaa, here we go.
So it’s not too early to plan for the holidays. I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to do the Christmas card thing. But, for Thanksgiving I’m going to visit my family in New Orleans. What the heck, maybe I’ll just stay there for Christmas. I haven’t been with my family for Christmas in maybe 20 years. It’s high time to do something about that.
I do love to travel; it’s the number one on the favorite things to do list. But, I haaaate to pack. I’ve been looking for that perfect dress for years, but haven’t found it. It should be reversible and on one side you could wear it to a midnight drunken beach party debacle/bonfire or flip it over and wear it to a presidential inauguration. Haven’t found one yet, still looking.
If I ever get rich enough to afford supercilious things, what I want is a personal valet. They wouldn’t have to do much really, just bring me a cup of coffee in the morning, mail back my Netflix movies, and pack when I’m planning to travel. Anyone out there know someone looking for a part-time valet job? Ok, they might get asked to patrol the house for cat fur balls on occasion or go to the drug store and pick out that perfect shade of lip gloss that I can never find. Whatever I buy, I end up looking like a circus clown 20 minutes after application.
I tend to mutter curses and talk to myself a lot when packing. I’m talking through the activities trying to figure out what I’m going to need and combine that into the least amount of clothing and accessories. It occurred to me earlier that it would help to declare a packing day moratorium with Mr. Husband on responding to anything I say, scream or mutter. Unless I address him by his given name and am looking him in the eye, or if I happen to be screaming in pain and yelling “help.” Other than that ignore me completely, please, thank you.
Packing is a pretty personal thing though when you think about it. It gets even more stressful when Hubman starts asking me what he should pack. That overloads my brain. Once I snapped, “just bring everything.” He did…and threw out his back trying to get his suitcase out of the car. This time I told him “honey, we’re going to a place where people’s idea of dressing up is wearing a clean T-shirt, shorts with no holes and a new pair of rubber flip-flops, trust me I lived there, figure it out!”
Hubman and his mom have this thing about preparation that involves talking about it five thousand eight hundred and seventy-two times – per day. This just drives me bat shit crazy. I end up wanting to say rude things like “look, just throw yer crap in a garbage bag, get in the damned car and let’s go! Anything you forgot we can buy along the way. It’s not like we’re going to Botswana.”
But, I’m trying to be a lady about this. I’m still a little raw and embarrassed by yelling at an in-law on Thanksgiving Day. I’ll get over it, I always do. If I didn’t, that would mean big trouble because I say things that even I don’t believe came out of my mouth, often.
**Sigh** Here I am writing again, when I should be doing….well, you know. I guess I’ll go pack.
I have a kooky family. So what? I miss them anyway. It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I’m moping around the house. Earlier this month, I expressed an extreme disinterest in doing a huge bang up in-law infested turkey day at Hubman’s mother’s house this year.
We leave on a way loooong road trip, with his mother in tow, the following Monday at the ass crack of dawn. That’s too much to cram into the time allotted. It’s not like there is no one else here in North Texas to cook a damn turkey. So what is his response? Move the party to our house! Excellent idea, oh beloved Bimbo of mine. Howz about I burn all your Star Trek collectibles in a big bonfire in the back yard. Wouldn’t that be fun?
I think I now know why iron skillets were invented and it was not for cooking, that’s just the cover story. There were created to knock husbands over the head with when they just…don’t…get it. Part of the problem is that I miss MY family. I love each and every one of them, even though there have been times that I contemplated murder, keel hauling or at the very least 20 lashes.
Some of this annoying ennui is my fault. I need to put my foot down in the marital kind of way before the next big holiday and say “HEY! It’s my turn. WE, not just me, are going to my family’s house for a holiday.” We are not solely responsible for entertaining every one of your relatives on every damn holiday ever invented. And I don’t wanna hear any whining a about how much it’s gonna cost. Or what is your mother is gonna do without us there to cater to her every whim, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Hell, bring her with us. We’ll give her a peek at how the darker side celebrates a holiday. The crazy beer drinking, Saints football team loving, dance at every opportunity, laugh at everything, wear a turkey on your head, New Orleans people way of celebrating. There is more than one way to do a holiday. And some of them don’t involve standing on your feet slaving over the stove until your feet swell up to the size of watermelons, and groaning and moaning about it. And on top of all that claiming you enjoy it. Uh, yea, and I like to get root canals too. Nice try, but I’m not buying it.
So I’m trying to work on things to be grateful about. I’m alive, have my health, a loving husband, even though he is rather thick-headed in the female department. A family that loves me, friends, I don’t live on the Gaza strip. I can afford to do pretty much whatever I want to do, within reason. I probably can’t afford to charter a jet and fly to Russia to train and go up in space, but I don’t want to do that anyway. I’m pretty much OK with being Earth bound for the time being.
I own a postage stamp size plot of ground on the moon. I bought if from a coupon on a cereal box when I was kid, but can’t find the paperwork. My dog loves me, and my cat doesn’t bite me…often. I do have a lot of things to be grateful for. Perhaps what I need to do is state my case earlier in the game. No means No. If I don’t wanna, then I don’t wanna. And if I do, then I do. Going along for the ride, moping around and pitching a fit when it’s too late to change anything isn’t working out well. Guess I need to pay more attention. Ignoring my needs and wants just isn’t doing the trick.
Well a good time was had by all this Thanksgiving day. It was a strange and wonderful day here in New Orleans, as it always is. Mom rocked the cooking for 2 days straight. About 3ish yesterday the Turkey was ready. And a fine bird it was. Much beer and wine was consumed during the interim, of course. When it was time to carve the turkey we discovered that the elected carver had taken ill to his bed. We were instructed to go ahead without him.
We soldiered on, trying first one knife and then another. At one point the hostess announced that she didn’t want the person who cooked the turkey to come anywhere near said turkey. The bird should rest a bit longer. I thought to myself that if it rested any longer we would need to put a lily on its breast and carry it with much ceremony to the nearest cemetery. Someone else blurted “oh just never mind.” Not wanting to be a rude and pushy guest I held my tongue until that point. I pointed out that we could not never mind the turkey because there were hungry people in the house and more coming.
I stepped in and give it a try. This particular turkey and the knives available did not get along well. The result was a sort of pulled turkey melange. I pulled off chunks and cut them on the plate which worked a little better. Then the feasting began. The turkey was fabulous and cooked to perfection. We ate and ate and ate some more. Turkey, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, baby peas, stuffed celery, cocktail onions, fruit salad, and pies of all varieties.
We then discussed the pros and cons of pickled beets. Some people love them, Mother included. I think they are revolting and should be banned in any civilized country. But, I try to live peaceably with them as long as I don’t mistake them for Cranberry sauce. I did one year and almost had to be sedated to survive the experience.
As the day and evening progressed various beloved friends stopped by. My sister the gracious hostess and her husband allow smoking in the kitchen. And so it ended up standing room only in there with an occasional overflow into the hall and out the back door. A lively discussion about any and all persons who were not there went on for hours.
Around 9 in the evening a mass exodus occurred. Those who had vehicles removing those who did not in the process. The grand exit knocked over a potted palm in the final stages of good byes, hastening the departure a bit. I drove my mother home and got lost a little on the way back, but it’s all good.
It was a wonderful day. I just have to write about it or I will forget. Like to get things documented while there are fresh in my mind. Hope everyone had a memorable Thanksgiving Day. Cheers.