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Diary Rings

Gift from Hil Part 2 - 2014-12-30
A Gift from Hil - 2014-12-28
There was A LOT of turkey. - 2014-12-04
Can we just jump to January please? - 2014-11-14
A (don't kick the) Bucket List - 2014-10-28

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4:00 p.m. - 2014-11-14
Can we just jump to January please?

I'm not doing Thanksgiving this year. I mean, sure, we'll eat, but no turkey and crap. I told Wolf he's free to go to his aunt's house if he wants. Auntie Gin will make sure her dippy brother and my two kids will get a slam bang meal. That's where Alex goes on holidays, to his real family. Wolf might as well start going too. Ever since that first Christmas after Mike and I split up and the ex and his sister conspired to make sure I was alone, "Merry Christmas, bitch! We have your kids! Ha ha ha! Why don't you just die and make everybody happy?" Well, the holidays have lost their savor.

At first it was just Christmas. The Santa Christmases are over and I just can't figure out how do Christmas without Santa. Wolf, bless him, he tries. We decorate the tree together and he makes sure 'A Christmas Story' is playing on the TV and when the pets get in the way we laugh and say, "Damn you Bumpus dogs!" even if it's a cat. Wolf's old enough now to be more excited about what he gives than what he gets and Christmas morning he's all a' swither for us to open our gifts. I always make sure to squeal and clap my hands and say it's THE very best thing! Poor Wolf. He feels so bad because after presents he gets washed and dressed and goes off with his father to Gin's where the real Christmas is. The one with his brother and cousins and big dogs to wrestle and play fetch with. Where there's continuity of family stories and jokes and even though he's not there somebody is bound to say something about the time Chris ate all the mashed potatoes. And they'll reminisce about the Christmas on Okinawa with the tinfoil tree and how they all went to the beach after a dinner of canned ham and Japanese noodles. Even more than my amped up glee over gifts I make sure Wolf never gets a whiff of jealousy or sadness when he gets home. I ask questions and laugh and admire all his loot. We look at the pictures on his phone and I do my best to be casual and cool about the ones with Alex in them even though I want to snatch the phone away and let my eyes gobble up those images of my prodigal son and howl out my grief that this is as close as I'll ever get.

Christmas is hard because for 25 years those Christmases with the ex and his kin were my Christmas too. I know the stories and the traditions and the inside jokes. Heck, I was the one who bought the ping-pong ball guns for everyone, and that dopey sound-activated dancing flower that made MIL finally crack a smile and laugh the year Chris was in the Gulf War. I remember the mock terrified looks everyone gave me when Grandma Naom's evil cat climbed into my lap and purred. I must be in league with Satan if Tiffany the Biting Siamese liked me! That cat had taken chunks out of everyone else with her claws and teeth and then that wicked thing sat in my lap with a rumbling purr and a sweet kitty smile. And the years after finally graduating to the grown-up's table Gin and I found ourselves back at the kid's table tending to our messy toddlers. And Wolf's proud moment when he was allowed to join his big brother and the cousins at the boys' table. Little Wolf sitting on his booster seat in the boys' private domain of the kitchen while the adults ate their dinner in the dining room. Wolf giggling at their rude noises and Eric feeding his broccoli to the dog and how nobody said anything when he, Wolf, ate with his hands. (Of course we knew, the kitchen was fully visible through the archway, but like Vegas- what happened in the kitchen stayed in the kitchen.) What hurts is I was there all those years fully part of things and now I've been excised like tumor. A bad tumor everybody is relieved is gone. When the stories and the jokes roll out I am conspicuously absent, except of course for the mean snort about how bad I suck and how grateful everyone is that I'm not there anymore. Not paranoia, btw, sometimes Wolf will be recounting his adventures and then will suddenly choke and blush and try to change the subject. I shrug nonchalantly and say it's okay, I know I'm the boogeyman and they mock me. Not a prob. This younger son of mine has such a good heart and it about kills him to be the wishbone. I do my best to not make it harder on him. I never say mean things about his father or his brother and the ex-kin. Nor try to get him on 'my side'. There are no sides. There is only Wolf and his lousy position as the middleman.

Anyway, Thanksgiving. A holiday that used to be far less fraught. I almost always cooked and the door and table were open to everybody. Single folk, students far from home, family, friends, travelers, one spectacular year at the old house we had 53 people for dinner. I gloried in my favorite holiday. Thanksgiving wasn't about expectations and presents and measuring up. It's a day about food and being grateful and being together. Except I did have one expectation. I truly believed those who loved me knew how much it meant to me that they came. For dinner or dessert or even just a quick hello and a hug.

Then came the Thanksgiving when I dared tell Alex to shape up. He kept dinner waiting for over an hour while he and Rachel slugged around. He didn't help cook or set the table or clean up or even say "Thank you" for the good feed. When I dared to object to this rude behavior my son and his girlfriend left within the hour. Leaving behind a bedroom that was completely trashed. Seriously. I had to use a putty knife to get the gum wads off the floor. There were Pepsi cans stuck to the floor and the desk in dried puddles of sugar. The bedside rug was so stained and filthy I had to throw it out. The room was littered with wantonly broken and discarded electronics and clothing and art supplies that tallied into the hundreds of dollars. I opened the closet to find the $800 graphing calculator that he HAD to have for a calculus class he later dropped smashed to bits as though someone had deliberately stomped on it.

Yup, that was a good'un. Best Thanksgiving...not.

Then even though she ALWAYS does Christmas and Mother's Day Mick's sister called me a 'holiday hog' when I called dibs on Thanksgiving. WTF? So for seven of the past eight years I've gotten weepy phone calls or snitty blow-offs when I try to arrange for us to get together here for Thanksgiving. Whatever, SIL. You don't make dinner, you won't come here, and you have a hissy if other family members do. Thanks for the psychotic episodes every November.

For a while a dear friend and her kid would come for dessert. Something that tickled me to no end. I absolutely understand that some folks have to divide their time and can't be everywhere at once. But my friend came for dessert and it was great. Then Wolf went off the rails one year and insulted and frightened my friend's kid. Wolf was going through one of his inappropriate phases and really botched things up. I do not blame my friend for keeping her kid away from mine for a while. But I also believe in second chances and Wolf has worked very hard to clean up his act. To have our dessert friends come back would have been a blessing, but it ain't gonna happen. So. No pie and laughs on Thanksgiving night anymore.

Then last year. Oy, last year. To think about it is like a knife in my heart. All the blow-offs and disappointments and divorce problems caved in on me and I begged my best friend to come. To come and change the direction on a day that had gotten so sad and lonely for me. To fricken be there as I had never asked of her before. I was so low and things had become very, very hard. My ex-family. My forever gone son. My stupid selfish SIL. My other friend who got gone to protect her kid from mine. I absolutely needed my best friend. The comfort and pleasure of her being at our Thanksgiving table would mean so, so much. I hardly ever ask anything from anyone but this time I was brave and asked. No, I begged.

And she blew me off. Blew me off and tore me a new one for even daring to ask in the first place. The nerve! What kind of shitty friend was I to ask her to come?

Yes, exactly. What kind of shitty person asks her best friend to come to Thanksgiving dinner? How awful! What kind of jerk asks a friend to come for a meal where she and anyone she brought with her would be honored guests? Who does that kind of rotten thing?

I did. I was the fool who believed I mattered to my 'best friend'. What an asshole I am. My elder son left forever because I told him to clean up his room and was upset he didn't bother to appear at the dinner table in a timely fashion. I was the idiot who thought my new SIL might want to be served a lovely dinner and eat with her brother and his new family! Dopey, dopey me.

I try really hard to believe I matter. Truly. It's something I work on every day. I know, I know, nobody can love you until you love yourself. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I get it that other people have their own stuff. I empathize and understand. I truly don't put onerous demands on my friends and family. I tread lightly. So when I ask, when I beg it's because I am at rock bottom. I am finally spending my friend chip and really, really need you.

And I get slapped every goddamn time. Slapped upside my head by how little I count. What tiny (if any!) space I merit with others. Nothing. I am a big fat nothing.

So screw Thanksgiving. I already donated my free turkey to the Hudson Valley Food Bank. With the Thanksgiving budget I already bought spices and paper plates and utensils and chits for fresh produce and donated them too. On November 27th this truncated little family group will have meatloaf or fried egg sandwiches and maybe we'll go to the movies after.

Holidays? What fucking holidays? Feh. ~LA

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