I don’t know about you, but this is hibernation season for me. All I do right now is work and sleep. Well, I guess I do get a little time in doing some other stuff, but naps have been plentiful to the exclusion of other stuff, like holiday shopping, parties and whatever else. I sort of like it, as I don’t really do the commercial thing for Christmas, so the season is one when I can sort of pay off a sleep debt and not care. There are more dark and cold hours, I’m inside more, and it's just right for a nap.
So, I don’t have a lot to report for the last month. I sort of slept it away. I didn’t really do any studio work despite intentions to do so. I didn’t bike much at all because I first got some stomach demon that spoiled a weekend and a couple days after that. Getting past that, a week later, I got a cold. I don’t think it was THE flu, but it spoiled my fun nonetheless. At least all I really had to do was go to work and finish off my schooling for the semester, which was really just one class, and I do believe I aced that, which deserves some self-praise. My last speech was the best I did, and I have reason to think the course as a whole grade is going to be just fine, and a good thing to reintroduce me to school after ten years away from that world.
As for the holidays, Christmas turned out to be quite nice for Kelli and me. She was down to begin with because it was not going to be spent with any family. I have been on a mission last year and this to make holidays something more than a time to grunt through. Holidays have been disposable in my small family for years and years. Little by little, any sense of joy or tradition has been sort of left to die over the last 15-20 years or so. It started with my step mom’s departure from the family just before I turned ten (last Christmas together was in 1982), and in the decade to follow, my grandparents sort of winding down in old age which changed the way we celebrated Xmas, and in the years since, the both of them dying, leaving my dad and I to our own devices since we sort of grew apart in those years. I just became a holiday orphan for about a decade from 1990 until a couple years ago. And in 1999, both Thanksgiving AND Christmas hit rock bottom for me. I felt so empty that year, so alone and forgotten. I needed to do something about that. So, with Kelli on the scene in the last couple of years, I have tried to make the holidays something, no matter how modest. I put out some things that belonged to my grandmother, and have been put up at the house for untold numbers of years—a wreath, creche, and some assorted other things that collect as the years go by. I still haven’t gotten a tree, but I religiously bring out my 12" tall ceramic light-up tree to deputize for a live one, same as grandmother used to do. Then I we sure to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special and some others if I catch them, and this year was keen on seeing A Christmas Carol in its 1951 film form. This year I managed to miss A Christmas Story, but will remedy that next year. Kelli and I also got seasonal with some assorted tunes I downloaded last year, with a whole collection of Bing Crosby faves that sort of remind me of Christmases past (my grandmother had an 8-track of Bing Christmas faves I hated at the time, but now it makes me all warm and fuzzy hearing those songs done in his deep soothing voice. I could hardly imagine the season without those songs now.) Kelli and I also made some cookies from scratch for the first time, and enjoyed the hell out of them. We went to church and a party after that on Christmas Eve, a newer tradition of ours, this being the third year doing this together, even though we went separately for years before.
But then, on Christmas day, we had a whole day to fill. I called my step mom and offered to pick her up early in the afternoon, and had already offered to have my dad over. He doesn’t think much of Christmas anymore. For him, the fun went out of it years ago, and certain attempts he made at er, um, making it a brighter time (with company of the opposite sex, I think) have left him sort of alienated. I can understand the idea easily enough. The holidays are a make-or-break time for people’s emotional states. Both of us sort of “did” (not particularly “celebrated”) Christmas in our own ways for some time now, and to me, after losing both my grandparents and feeling pretty alone in the world, I wanted to make something more. So, the holidays have been the time to try to put things back in place, start something that may be the traditions that carry us for the next several years. I don’t have a lot of money to play the usual commercial Christmas, but I have been secure in my conclusion that that is a good thing. So, for the last few seasons, I have been trying to make the holidays a time of togetherness more than a time of trading gifts and stuff. It's sort of old fashioned, isn’t it? But that’s the idea. I think if people lower their expectations of what the holiday season should be, they may be pleasantly surprised in what it can be. It's funny. I work as a delivery driver, delivering to about 30 people. Just in the week or so before Christmas, I got a few things that just made my holidays. I was given a few boxes of See’s Candy, a wreath made from real trees, some other little bits of chow, a number of cards from my people, and about $50 which I spent on some dinner with Kelli and a gift or two. It was a very modest but pleasant thing. Then, on Christmas day, I managed to have both my dad and step mom in the same room for the first time in probably years, and for the first Christmas since 1982! The best part was that no one actually knew it was going to happen, though it was not an accident that it happened that way—I had tried to arrange this last year, but something didn’t pan right. Of course, this was the most pleasing part of the whole season. We all went out to dinner later on, after Kelli and I made cookies, kept a fire going all day, and shot a bunch of pictures with as many cameras that were on hand. Both of my roommates were around at different times, and John, the newest, came to dinner with us, and later on Gus was home, and had some wine with Kelli and I, bringing the night to a nice close after a really fine Christmas, and one that none of us had planned to happen the way it happened. Even the old man liked the experience and thanked me for having him over. Couple that with some yummy oatmeal & chocolate chip cookies, and I got me a good holiday!