Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning – almost midday, really – here in Lithia, Florida, on Wednesday, December 22, 2021. It’s a chilly early winter day – gray, overcast, and cold. The current temperature is 60˚F (16˚C) under cloudy skies. With the wind blowing from the northwest at 9 MPH (15 KM/H) and humidity at 84%, the wind chill factor is 59˚F (15˚C). Today we can expect partly sunny skies and a high of 66˚F (19˚C). Tonight, skies will be clear. The low will be 46˚F (8˚C).
I’m still feeling ambivalent about the holidays. While I’m not downright glum or desperately unhappy, I’m not exactly jumping for joy because Christmas is less than three days away. If it weren’t for the fact that Christmas is one of the three occasions when we all sit together at the same table at the same time for dinner (the other two being Easter and Thanksgiving), for me it would be just another day of the year.
On the bright side, at least my adoptive family is not as terribly dysfunctional as my immediate family was when my mom was still alive, and I had to interact with my narcissistic older half-sister Vicky. I got along well with my mother, of course, but that was – unfortunately – not the case with Vicky. She was – and still is – a manipulative, domineering, and irascible woman who loved to create drama, especially at family gatherings and particularly at Christmastime.
“A family can be the bane of one’s existence. A family can also be most of the meaning of one’s existence. I don’t know whether my family is bane or meaning, but they have surely gone away and left a large hole in my heart.”― Keri Hulme, The Bone People
I can’t, in all honesty, recall a single holiday season between 1972 – the year that Mom, Vicky, and I returned to the U.S. after living in Bogota, Colombia for nearly six years – and 2014 – my mother’s last Christmas/New Year’s while she was still alive – that didn’t involve arguments, fights, or melodrama that centered around my half-sister.
(Well, there was one such happy occasion, but that’s because Mom and I asked my Aunt Martha [my mother’s sister] if we could go spend the 1993/94 holiday season with her and the rest of the family in Bogota – sans Vicky.)
Since that last Christmas that I spent with Mom and Vicky seven years ago – seems longer than that, though – the holidays have been mercifully free of Sturm und Drang. As I wrote in yesterday’s blog post:
I don’t feel acutely sad this year; the worst holiday season was the 2015/2016 Christmas-New Year’s Day week, which was the first that I spent without either my mother or my nemesis in nearly four decades. One absence, of course, made me incredibly sad, while the other one was a relief.
Here, while I can’t say that I’m happy, I get along well with everyone. I get irritated at times with some of the family’s eccentricities, such as the fact that no one bothers to restock the fridge when stuff like eggs, milk, or bread runs out. My mom taught me as early as when I was 11 or 12 to go to the nearby supermarket (Food Fair/Pantry Pride when we lived in Westchester; Winn Dixie when we lived in East Wind Lake Village) and buy a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, or a carton of eggs before any of those ran out. Here? Currently, we have no milk or sliced bread, so I didn’t have much of a breakfast today.
“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!”― Dave Barry
But…aside from that….
The environment here is far less angsty or toxic than the one I experienced in Miami during the 43 years that I lived there. And as I said before: I had a great relationship with my mother, but a stormy one with Vicky. Here, while I have my issues with the Caregiver and don’t agree with how she does things, there is little or no conflict to speak of.
And that, folks, is certainly a blessing. Isn’t it?