Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blame It On Santa

When I was a kid I looked forward to the holidays, ever hopeful that this year it would be different. I was at least twelve before I realized that it was never going to be anything but a disappointment.

My parents would ask me what I wanted to eat on Thanksgiving and I'd say I wanted the traditional turkey, stuffing, candied yams, mashed potatoes, gravy, Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, cranberry relish, Waldorf salad, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. My mother always ended up doing something wildly hinky like trying to make oyster stuffing or Cornish game hens. She didn't approve of mashed potatoes and couldn't/wouldn't make gravy. She refused to do anything fancier to a yam than bake it.

When we had Thanksgiving with my dad's parents his mother always came close to the perfect meal, but his dad seemed intent on putting us all on a diet right as he was carving the turkey, dishing out the stuffing. His slices of turkey were paper thin and the thimbleful of stuffing was just a tease of a taste. I could have eaten fifty of those servings but never was allowed to ask for more than three. My grandmother's pumpkin pie and whipped cream was perfection but the pie, once sliced into slivers, could have served at least twenty~there were only five of us. I gave up caring, hoping. I gave up falling for the promise the questions implied. "What do you want?" implied someone cared.

The first Christmas I remember, I was maybe three. Most people can't remember that far back. I can't remember yesterday, but I can remember my third year in shockingly vivid detail. I remember being coaxed and helped to write a letter to Santa. I wanted a tricycle. Just that one thing. Santa came and left me a letter telling why I couldn't have a tricycle. Santa always seemed to think I'd asked for the wrong thing. I gave up on Santa. When I was six I discovered that Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy were a fiction adults told children. I figured they did that so they didn't have to tell you that they weren't going to get you what you'd asked for. Blame it on Santa.

Now that I'm old and bipolar, I'm aware of all the reasons the holidays are hard. I, like so many, have SAD, so as the days get shorter I get sad. I wouldn't mind winter so much if it weren't for short days and snow. If I had the money and liked people better I'd head toward the equator in the winter. Instead I just hibernate. The only problem with being a sort of semi-shut-in, is that well meaning people invite me to spend those two days, Thanksgiving and Christmas, with them and their crazyass friends and family. Really, I was sure my very small extended family (I'm the only child of my mother's family, and my father's family wants nothing to do with me since I refuse to keep the family secrets secret) was the worse family on earth. But now, I realize everybody has a crazy relative, there is at least one alcoholic in every family, and you all have one sister-in-law you loathe, so the stress level at the dinner table will be guaranteed to give everyone indigestion, if not a full blown screaming food fight. Sibling rivalry seems to revive at the holiday table. It now amazes me that there aren't more stabbings at holiday dinners.

Now if you ask me what I want to do on Thanksgiving, I'll tell you I want to stay home, read, nap, and when I get really hungry I want a neighbor to send one of the kids with a plate piled high with turkey and all the fixins.

Happy Thanksgiving darlings! Don't stab your alcoholic brother at the table. I'd hate to see you miss Christmas because you were in the pokey.


Oso said...

Hi Utah Savage,
Oso,new guy in the neighborhood.Sorry I didn't bring by a plate of turkey piled high,next year maybe and I'll try to drop off some tamales for Christmas.
Enjoy kicking back and taking it easy.My family has crazies in it too.

Lisa said...

Taking it easy at home sounds like something to be thankful for. I may have had it forced on me, but let me tell you - I am very grateful.

Enjoy your day. I wish we lived close enough so that all three of my kids could who up at your door with treats.

Beach Bum said...

Don't stab your alcoholic brother at the table.

Much to my surprise I found out today that my in-laws are coming. I'm at work right now and due to me smuggling my laptop into the place I have a few hours of peace and quiet before I return home in the morning to hear the screams as my in-laws argue over who has the highest intellect and culinary skills.

You know, its actually fun at times to watch them, and to figure they think my family are a bunch of rednecks.

Fran said...

" It now amazes me that there aren't more stabbings at holiday dinners"

Now that you mention it.... really! There are usually sharp knives readily available.

I think I am becoming a hermit in my old age
because large crowds/gatherings do not appeal to me.

The husband was in a 3 car wreck on Friday - has whiplash & looks like they are going to total the vehicle.

Boring would be lovely!

Hugs to you.

D.K. Raed said...

Your T-Giving day sounds nicer than mine. I would wrestle you for that extra extra extra helping of stuffing. I always eat ALL the stuffing! As far as I'm concerned the turkey is just a container for stuffing.

I'll be doing the family thing ... battling my repube brother who is loathe to change the TV channel from his beloved Fox to football. He's the only relative I plan to breathe directly on since I am at the tailend of a headcold.

Utah Savage said...

We're a cheerful bunch aren't we. I love you all. Thanks for showing up even if you are sick and wielding knives.

DK, I'll arm wrestle you for the stuffing. I may be old, but I'm strong.

Mauigirl said...

I share your ambivalence about these holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. On one hand, I feel this pressure to be grateful we still have family to get together with on the holidays. But on the other I wish I could just spend it quietly at home. I'm a winter hibernator too and I just dread all of this fuss. And now that I'm the one who does the holidays, I hate to say it but it's a lot of work! Too much pressure...

At any rate, wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you do get that plate full of turkey with all the fixings!

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

At the house, the crazier the crowd gets, the quicker the bartender pours. You'd think that was a formula for disaster! Yet; it usually gets the laughter cooking, the 'good' old memories tumbling forth and idea of desert and coffee comes up with Irish coffee. Yes, we keep the cab company busy, don't one send three! We make it a party. I'm lucky... I have wonderful memories. I count these blessings. And

Peggy... I'm sending you lots of pink Light to wrap you in sweet feelings today... you give so much in your words... I learn, I laugh like hell, I've even had trouble with the faucet on my tear ducts here at Utah Savage. Always, something of consider and many times I find gratitude as I read you. Happy Thanksgiving. Hoping a plate finds you....

Suzan said...

Oddly enough we survived without any stabbings this year.

Not that someone prolly didn't deserve it, but we're practicing nonviolence now that it's a done deal that our government won't.

Thank you for all your stories, Utah. You make us all stronger and more able to deal with the challenges in our lives.

Keep on keeping on, girl!


Don't stab your alcoholic brother at the table.

Tengrain said...

Utah -

I stopped going home for Thanksgiving and Christmas the moment I turned 18. I went back for other things, but never again for those things. Too much pressure, something always was gonna give.

One sister ran away and joined a cult following Thanksgiving one year. It took the FBI and all my father's political connections to find her.

My brother actually left by climbing out a window after a cruel joke; he surfaced a year or so later, in a desperate and bad marriage that soon ended in a more-or-less amicable divorce.

I was determined not to follow in that path and told my parents, straight-up, not to expect me again. I really think it saved us all.