So weâ€™re hip deep in my most conflicting season of the year. I love all the promise and possibilities, yet I also dread the inevitable realities.
It begins with Thanksgiving and culminates in my birthday at the end of February. Lately I donâ€™t even count my birthday, both literally and figuratively, but for the narrativeâ€™s sake weâ€™ll throw it in.
Thanksgiving is always an adventure. I come from a typically fractured family with quite a few odd branches. I donâ€™t have any siblings, but Iâ€™m usually surrounded by step-cousins or distant aunts and a variety of hangers on. When I was younger, my peer age relatives always had boyfriends or girlfriends, and theyâ€™d be there, canoodling or sharing secret smiles. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the stuffing. My grandmother died convinced I was gay, but she also died convinced black people had an extra bone in their ankle which, while diminishing their buoyancy, aided in eluding the police. So itâ€™s kind of a draw. These days, I think the only person who knows for a fact that Iâ€™m not gay is my gay uncle. We always get paired up, as weâ€™re the only singles, but itâ€™s great because I get to have someone to talk to about Judi Dench. Now, those cousins and such have children of their own, and some of them now have mates that they bring along. The circle of life continues, and thereâ€™s a whole new generation to wonder if Iâ€™m gay.
Christmas is the next good time. I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve ever spent Christmas anywhere but with my mother, which Iâ€™d never complain about. She wants Christmas to be perfect every year, and she does the best she can, and she comes about as close as is humanly possible. She turns the house into something out of a Martha Stewart fever dream, and cooks amazing food and dotes on me like only a mother of an only child can. When you are literally the only thing your mother cares about, itâ€™s quite a responsibility. And it doesnâ€™t exactly make your stepfather happy. Inevitably, she starts fighting with him about something completely retarded, and the cheery house becomes a chilly museum of passive aggression. The food still tastes pretty great, and I get to hear about how great my supermodel stepsister is doing. This year, the cancer will probably slow the cooking down, but the angst should be in full force.
New Yearâ€™s is my motherâ€™s anniversary, so I usually like to skedaddle before that celebration starts, what with all the joy thatâ€™s built up over the week. Plus I always have hope that maybe Iâ€™ll have that New Yearâ€™s Eve that everyone dreams of. Usually I get to watch ABCâ€™s Rockinâ€™ New Yearâ€™s Eve. Iâ€™ve seen Dick Clark age over the years, and now Ryan Seacrest has taken over. Heâ€™s good, but heâ€™s no Dick. Last year, my girlfriend decided sheâ€™d rather hang with her cousin than see me on New Yearâ€™s. Which was nice. It was actually a pretty good metaphor for the last nine months of that doomed relationship. Every relationship Iâ€™ve ever had, now that I think about it.
Valentineâ€™s Day. Now that is a seriously good time for someone like me. When no one really wants to be your Valentine, itâ€™s basically an annual reminder that you donâ€™t have whatever it is that makes people love you. If I happen to actually have a girlfriend at Valentineâ€™s Day, thereâ€™s still that sense that sheâ€™d much rather be someone elseâ€™s girlfriend, but the greeting card cartel does a good job of forcing her to act like sheâ€™d better make do with what sheâ€™s got. Some would say that having someone pretend they like you is better than nothing, but as someone with experience with both, I can honestly say Iâ€™m not sure if itâ€™s better or not. I can say that having nothing is cheaper, so I think Iâ€™ll stick with that.
Then comes the birthday. I donâ€™t pay much attention to it, so I donâ€™t blame anyone else for doing the same. Birthdays in general donâ€™t make much sense to me. If itâ€™s a life worth celebrating, then itâ€™s fine. For a person whoâ€™s been an abject failure both personally and professionally at everything like me, thereâ€™s not much to celebrate. A birthday is just a ceremony to celebrate the fact that another year has passed and youâ€™ve still got nothing to show for it but disappointment. I guess that what the cakeâ€™s for.
Now that Iâ€™ve got my toes dipped firmly in middle age, I feel like Iâ€™ll be forced to accept some truths. I know Iâ€™ll be sitting at the kidâ€™s table forever at Thanksgiving. I know Iâ€™ll never wake up next to someone on Christmas morning, and Iâ€™ll certainly never have a child come bounding in to beg us to get up so they can open presents weâ€™ve wrapped in the middle of the night. I know Iâ€™ll never share a kiss at midnight with someone who wants nothing than to share another year with me. I know no one will ever spend a giddy week looking forward to a romantic day as my Valentine. And I know Iâ€™ll never look back on a year of my life and say, â€œWow. That was great.â€ As I learn these things, Iâ€™d like to try to learn something else. Something that might make me at least say, â€œIâ€™m glad I learned that.â€ Because so far, the lessons have been pretty tough.
But like I said in the beginning, there are things about the season I do love. Though I know all those things, all those facts and inevitabilities, there is still that faint sense of hope. I suppose that itâ€™s a bit like faith. Faith in a God thereâ€™s no evidence for; in fact, quite a lot of evidence that there is no God. I hope those things arenâ€™t true, though I know they are. My heart wishes they werenâ€™t, so I hope. And thatâ€™s where the confliction comes from.
Christmas music. I love Christmas music.