i yelled at my ex-husband over the phone this morning that i wanted to kill myself. i have been crying for nearly three hours off and on, and it’s really hard to order coffee at caribou while you’re hiding a secret behind your ray-bans. i’ll have the wahhhhh! decaf medium sniff! please!
the patricks were not holiday people. they considered birthdays for children under the age of five and since i was adopted at three you can sort of see how much traction my birthday got. halloween trick or treating? ixnay. valentine’s? there’d better be no boys sniffing around this house with cards–i don’t care if your teacher says that everybody has to send everybody a card.
they were okay on christmas, a little. there was a tree. we ate datenut bread and cream cheese sandwiches on christmas eve and on christmas day, dinner was accompanied by prince andre cold duck. until the patricks discovered sparkling burgundy. the day after christmas, the tree was thrown out onto the parkway.
it’s the lead up that always did me in!
one year, i was so excited about santa’s imminent arrival that i repeatedly snuck down the stairs to the living room. santa never arrived. i woke up in the morning and saw nothing under the tree. my mother said that santa had simply skipped the neighborhood. but when my older adopted sister sandra and i went next door, there were presents and laughter and stockings. sandra got them to give us some candy and she put it in my stocking. that was christmas. a few years later, mrs. patrick allowed as how it made her so mad that i kept getting up, she finally decided to punish me with no christmas. it was quite effective. the next year, they had to drag me out of bed christmas morning.
but that wasn’t as bad as the year i turned eleven. there was several boxes just for me under the tree! i was so excited but i forgot: puberty was just around the corner. so was bleeding. menstruation was something mrs. patrick didn’t have to deal with because she had had a hysterectomy when she was seventeen. she delighted that she didn’t have that “dirtiness” to contend with. my christmas presents were a box of kotex napkins, some underwear that had a garter to hold the napkins in place, and mr. patrick (who traveled on business a lot) had contributed a box of the airsickness bags he had filched so that i could dispose of the used napkins. i was sternly warned that under no circumstances could i put the napkins in the household garbage cans.
“that’s how diseases are spread,” mrs. patrick warned me. i felt really funny around my father, knowing that he knew this would happen to me. my sister gave me the talk about how periods worked but she used such convoluted language that i thought i would be bleeding from my belly button. wow! i was so surprised when it actually happened! i thought i was dying!
so i have had christmases alone, i’ve had wonderful christmases with the eastmans and with my own family. but i always have the pre-christmas fears that this is going to be one of those bad christmases. this year, i’m already panicking. i wish there was a holiday five days before where everybody would announce that they loved everybody in their family A LOT! it would certainly help me.
and yet, what i should remember most is not whether one son or another remembers to get me a present or whether everybody behaves at the two different christmas dinners i’m hosting (two of which will include an ex-husband and one of which will include his first ex-wife) or whether someone gets mad because i didn’t mail their christmas wreath to them soon enough. i should remember that next year’s christmas. . . definitely could be worse and it’s a long ways away!