Hejira

 

 

rememberance/ambivalence/expectation

December 25. 2000

merry fucking christmas:

rar

fully wired.

*

 

While at dinner today, my sister said something that stuck in my mind. "You know, I almost forgot where we were last Christmas."

Of course, this was before her little teenage routine of getting angry at us, slamming her utensils down, slamming her chair into the table and tossing her fastidiously curled hair over her shoulder and stalking off to the dessert table. Though that performance was amusing, what she said stuck in my head because I remember Christmas very well.

Though I didn't say it out loud to anyone, I was hoping - no, expecting Christmas to be the same as it always was. After the miserable academic and social experience that was my first semester, I longed for the familiarity and comfort of our family's traditions: New pajamas on Christmas Eve, getting up late, a brunch of stickybuns and breakfast casserole, and then Christmas dinner at the Quality Inn.

So when my mother announced that we would be going to Baltimore to spend Christmas with my Grammy and Pop-Pop (who was in Johns Hopkins at the time), I didn't think how lonely they must have been, alone in Baltimore, or how grateful they would be to have our company on Christmas Eve and Day. I thought immediately of myself, and how all my expectations and plans were ruined. I voiced my displeasure loudly and repeatedly, upsetting my mother so much that she almost left me and my sister in Lebanon for Christmas.

But go we did, and now my memories are tainted not so much with the loss of our usual Christmas traditions, but with the sour taste of my own selfishness. It may not have been what I planned, but seeing my grandmother's eyes well up with tears as we sat around the table of our makeshift Christmas Eve Wiligia was more than worth it. We were only in Baltimore for two days, my Christmas was not ruined, but I stuck with the memories of my own stupidity of a year ago.

*

As for this Christmas, it was low key. We got up late, opened presents without much fanfare, went to a crappy dinner buffett (the excellent one we always go to at the Quality Inn was, alas, no more). Shortly thereafter Lauren extricated herself from us to have dinner with her boyfriend's well groomed, wealthy, country club, WASPish family. She was wearing a smart little pinstripe navy blue suit. She was worrying about the run in her nylons and wondering if the wind would mess up her hair. As she shrieked her goodbyes over her shoulder as she made her escape, I turned to my mother and asked, "What has become of her?"

We are an unpretentious family of artistic weirdos who have never set a foot in a country club or played a round of golf. I'm sure Lauren was dying to get away from us. My mother just rolled her eyes and with a smile said, "She'll come around eventually."

As for me, in true nerd fashion, I spent the rest of the day coding and doing graphics for the redesign of this page. It appears to be going in no cohesive direction, but I feel like I'm accomplishing something.

Ah, Christmas. You've grown to mean less and less to me every year. I've had this vague dissatisfaction regarding this holiday for the past few years, but I think I've finally put my finger on this ambivalence. I think I object to the idea of all this goodwill and happiness being mandated for one day. The world stops and breathes for one day before starting up its gears once again. There's too much pressure for it to be perfect and wonderful, and that leads to the inevitable disappointment. This day was not top on my list of wonderful, warm, fuzzy days this year. But I have a handful of others that were much better. July 1st was a pretty damn good day. As was November 30th. There were a couple weekends in August that were very enjoyable. But not today. Today was pleasant, sitting in front of this glowing blue screen, Pepsi by my side, undisturbed by the rest of humanity, but there wasn't anything spectacular about it, no revelations of love or thankfulness or happiness. Those are things I prefer not to plan out, but rather let them come on their own, unexpectedly.

One Year Ago:
"My sister shot me a look that could've frozen Hades solid when she got back to her seat, but my reasoning (and I had it all ready in a little speech should she make a comment after the service) was that I didn't go up for communion for the same reason she didn't make small animal sacrifices: because I didn't believe in it. My self-righteousness is at an all time high when comes to religion."