On Christmas Day 2016 midnight passed without the traditional, “Happy Birthday! I love you!” declaration. I didn’t incoherently mumble back, “I love you more.” When I finally decided to drag myself out of bed, no one snored peacefully beside me while I was brimming in the delight of the day, and an overfilled stocking with all its promise didn’t wait on my chair (I like stockings best). I didn’t spend the month randomly announcing, “It’s my birthday!” to only be told, “nuh uh”. “Yuh huh! I get ALL the days! Happy Birthday to me!!!” “No!” “YES!” “No dancing!” “It’s my very special birthday dance to celebrate! Maybe there’s a song!””Look away, Sam!”
It was sad – not all the time, but most of it. It was hard – not all the time, but most of it.
I wanted a margarita (maybe two) and some Tex Mex, which wasn’t going to happen. Really? Only Chinese food places are open? No one is in town? I went to the movies, another tradition. It was enjoyable.
Then I sat alone in a house missing all the other Christmases when I could see his beautiful face. I thought about how I still hope when I pull into the garage after work that he’ll magically fling open the door and help me bring in my stuff. I still hope that maybe I’ll wake up, and this will have all been a horribly vivid, and unwelcome dream. And then I buck up, put on a smile, and greet another day.
Since I get asked, usually with a pitying face, “How was your Christmas?” There it is. That’s how my Christmas went. Oh wait, I meant to say, “it was fine, how was yours?” Do tell me about how losing another celebrity has devastated your world. I’m THE person to talk to about that. It’s not that I don’t get it; I just don’t have patience for it right now.
I went on a rant (as I do) today about people not saying “thank you”. It’s a pet peeve. I don’t get it. How hard is it to say “thanks”? “Thank you for thinking of me.” I always had to thank people growing up, and when my step-mom was added to the family, I learned to write actual “thank you” notes. In my family there’s the parable of the bad aunt – the one who received a guitar that her mother had scraped all of her money together to purchase. It didn’t live up to this aunt’s expectations, apparently crying and door slamming ensued, and everyone involved was fairly unhappy. The lesson was, “do not be this aunt – say thank you even if it’s not something you wanted – be grateful someone thought of you – that someone may have tried really hard to please you.” I did manage not to say, “I’m not a toy dispenser for ingrates” this go around, which I like to think of as “a win” in the rant department. I just thought everyone needed a gentle reminder to be thankful. Hey, if people can rant about their various relationships while screenshot-ing each painful text, then I can plop myself on social media and carry on about thankfulness.
But in doing so, I was reminded that I hadn’t properly said thanks for one of the best, and most touching gifts I received this year. Normally, I’m not the one to brag, because it seems rather tacky, “look what I got!!!” yet I’m going to make this one exception.
On Christmas Day 2016 at the traditional movie I received the following box:
250 envelopes containing quotes, questions to ponder, and notes from my friends and family. Notes for each work day of 2017 to put in my lunch and open each day. Each one has my name on it and a sticker sealing it in the back. My good friend April coordinated this, and spent who knows how many countless hours putting it together. To say it’s amazing and touching is such an understatement; it blew me away. I teared up once I understood what I was looking at. She didn’t tell me who all contributed, so I haven’t been able to thank you yet. Until I know who all was involved, I hope you’ll accept this general note of appreciation in the meantime:
THANK YOU ALL! This was truly the most meaningful and beautiful of gifts. I am so very lucky to have you in my life.
I’ll share the first one (ok, so I may have cheated and not waited until the first of the year to open just one). It reads:
“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” — Neil Gaiman
Thank you, April for thinking of something so magical, and for getting me away when my Paris trip fell through, leaving me a brief mess. Thank you to my beautiful friends and family. I love you guys MORE! I hope all of these wishes come true for me, and also for you.
1 – I, too, had to write thank you notes for gifts. It is a lost art. As is sending Christmas cards.
2 – That binder is the single most amazing gift I have seen this year. You have amazing friends.
Yeah, April did an amazing job. Normally, I’m a big Christmas card sender and this year I just said fuck it. Maybe next year.
Beth, This trove of 250 thoughts is quite an undertaking. No doubt you teared up. No wonder you are thankful.
Christmas is such an odd time of the year. I think in many cases, it’s best ignored. Maybe an intersecting b-day adds another landmine.
I chuckled when you were hankering for Tex-Mex and margaritas on Christmas Day. Maybe there are a few vestiges of local distinctions in our 50-state mall, excuse me, nation. I think the odds that anyone out here would think there was any chance whatsoever of finding good Tex Mex food on Christmas Day is very low. So low they wouldn’t even think of it, or something like that. You know what I mean…
Enjoy your 250 cards. Let them carry you through those 250 workdays with gratitude for all that you have.
When it comes to Tex Mex and Margaritas (or really anything of interest on my birthday), I’m an eternal optimist despite decades of proof that my only choices will be a Marie Callendar’s 😦 or Chinese food (not that there’s anything wrong with that, and it’s usually better than dried out turkey, sides bathing in “cream of…” or even a tuber topped with mini-marshmallows (the only way a true Southerner would eat yams). My friend did inform me, from the relative safety of their phone screens, that local bars were open. That prospect seemed rather sad. Maybe next year I’ll order Christmas tamales (a huge thing here), and then break out the blender.
Of course, next year will count as two Christmases without my husband, and I may actually find I can be around people. I’m normally the obnoxiously happy Christmas person despite Christmas’ flaws. We’ll see! In the mean time I wish you, your family, and friends a very happy New Year! I look forward to reading more posts! Even as we groan through the next four years.
We also had to write nice formal Thank You notes. Good training – too bad it’s lost and even the verbal utterance is rare now. Adults used to be unified on children using that phrase. What can I say?
Good Tex MEx can fix almost anything.
That collection of envelopes is the most amazing gift I’ve seen in a long time. People think a lot of you and you have good friends.
Wishing you miles of smiles, intriguing wanderings, and lots of wonder in the New Year! Cheers and onward with spirit, courage, and hope.
Thank you! I really do have some amazing people in my life, and I’m completely blown away. Tomorrow I get to open my first new one, which makes me actually look forward to packing my lunch. April done good!
I hope you, your friends, and of course the realm (special genuflecting to RC) have an amazing New Year!! I look forward to more adventures, metaphors, and elegant dismissals as I bow low and exit respectfully from an audience with his majesty. I shall leave my offerings at the door.