the ins and outs of the post-modern Christmas

Well, I can’t tell you just exactly how much I am looking forward to this next week. Back when I was a kidlet, Christmas was so fun – I knew I’d get more than I received, I could laze about and be provided yummy food, and I was pretty well guaranteed I could curl up with a good book for hours.  Then there was church, which was both banal and beautiful – I love singing the carols, and usually found the sermon tiresomely boring, but sympathized with your average minister who must try and find something clever each year for the same holiday. And everyone wore perfume, which clashed with the incense and was both irritating and entrancing, as the different perfumes passed by.

But that was in the past, along with those Christmases with young kids whose eyes sparkled wide open at their stockings and such stuff and who made the whole day worthwhile. We had real Christmas trees that smelled lovely, as versus my current “tree of broken hopes” as my son calls it – an artificial $15 WalMart special made of asbestos and lead exported from China.

Now it’s just me, and my post-modern holiday, which involves a fairly deadly combo of driving, teenage sons (who I adore but who always have to argue in loud voices over the state of the world), a daughter who is missed but still isn’t speaking to me, and a wonderful family of ex-in-laws who insist that I’m still a member of the family and invite me along to share their gaity and song and dance (and really excellent meals) with them and with my ex and his new wife. Well, not so new, as they’ve been married for some months now. So I guess you could call her a slightly used wife. But probably shouldn’t.

It wouldn’t be so bad save for the fact that I have a true Sagittarian mouth, given to saying things out of turn and that don’t come out quite the way I want them to.  Add to my MS brain (a convenient excuse, I agree) and some wine, and the things that come out of my mouth – egad. Dear Mrs. Ex is quite civilized and all, but we originate on two completely different planets and we don’t speak the same language and when I try to speak to her my voice comes out either very sharp (a.k.a. bitch goddess) or in a tone of salt-dry sarcasm.

I try to be friendly but it doesn’t read true even to me.  I mean, let’s be reasonable.  How friendly am I supposed to be with my replacement? How am I to respond to tales of them reading in bed together and doing cooking classes together and all those things he would never have been seen doing with me?  I’m glad he has improved his relationship skills and all, and I’m so happy for Mrs. E that she got the new, trained up version of my ex, but I can’t help feel a bit miffed as they detail the delights of their lives together – the delights that were not offered to me.

But be that as it may, I’ve gotta buck up and smile girl smile because I want to encourage the kids to be pleasant to their dad’s new sweetie, just as I expect them to be so to mine. Life does move on, and there’s no reason why we should live alone for the rest of our lives. It’s nice to love and be loved in return – in fact, it is really the only thing that matters.

But in the midst of the turkey and the wine and the gravy and the wine and the wine, I may forget my resolution to try and be sweet. I’ve never been good at resolutions. Or in being sweet.  And my kids have never really been that sweet to ME, so I’m not sure how I’d feel if they fell in love with Mrs. Ex and started wanting to spend more time with her than with me.

On the other side, my sweetie has an ex who is probably feeling much the same way as I do.  And, like that old shampoo commercial said, “and so on and so on and so on”. As our marriages break up we recombine in uncomfortable new relationships that have prickles. The poor kids have to tumble along the best they can as new people stumble into their family.  Of course, we have to as well, as the kids meet new loves. But that seems easier, somehow.

So, mum’s the word as I go a holidaying. Perhaps I will develop a convenient laryngitis and just refuse to talk at all. Nah – I’d only end up making hand motions, and those?  Those could be much worse.

Ho ho ho and best wishes to all as we wander through holidays, po-mo style.