Nothing shows off our consumer-driven capitalistic society better than the Thanksgiving to Christmas shopping season, the annual rape by the retail world of our wallets and our credit cards, all wrapped up in that warm and fuzzy family propaganda, you know, the stereotypical family around the table carving the turkey or trimming the tree, all to push that stuffing, HD/3D TV’s, or a luxury car with a bow on it.
The fact is 1 out of 10 of us live alone and millions are growing up in single parent households.
And it’s an urban myth that every other driveway sports a Lexus.
But I think why all that warm and fuzzy stuff bothers me the most is because it reminds me of the days when the holidays were exactly that for me.
When all the aunts and uncles and grandparents were still alive and around the holiday table, getting drunk on scotch or cheap wine or brandy. For many years, my sister and I were the only kids in the family, so we got special treatment, especially around Christmas.
Then, the other, less pleasant memories of those idyllic days rush back into my mind, and suddenly my mythical holidays become just that. First, my sister and I were programmed to act like toy soldiers and never speak unless spoken to. And every time we’d go to visit my grandmother on my mother’s side, Mom’s slightly bent younger sister would jokingly coax grandma’s two boxers to “sic ‘em, sic ‘em!”
Worse, living with my psychiatrically unstable mother, who usually hosted the holiday family shindigs, was like constantly walking on egg shells. We’d all be at the dining room table, my sainted father making nice with everyone, when my crazy aunt, Mom’s bent sister, would suddenly throw out a dagger of a remark intentionally to edge Moms on.
Bingo! I’m surprised one year the turkey or ham didn’t end up on the carpet.
My sister dropped out of the family theatrics early in the game, marrying at 22 and moving to Long Island, leaving me, the single son (my closet homosexuality, interestingly enough, never became a subject of family discussion) to watch over my parents and eventually widowed Mom. One Thanksgiving, in my feeble attempt to keep the family together, I drove all the way to extreme northwest New Jersey where my mother, without consulting either my sister or I, had moved to after my father’s death, and brought her to spend the night with me on Staten Island which, in holiday traffic, seemed half a world away. The plan was for us to drive over the following morning – Thanksgiving Day – to my sister’s on Long Island, another marathon on the LIE.
But when my mother saw some light snow falling that holiday morning, she refused to budge, and my frustration in seeing my carefully orchestrated holiday plans go down the sewer reached the point of no return, and in a sudden fit of rage, I knocked this seventy something woman to the floor. She pretended in typical Mary style to be injured – she wasn’t – and all I thought was how I, a senior health care executive, was going to be charged with elder abuse of his own mother. We later buried the hatchets and spent Thanksgiving as the old lady and her fag son in a local diner.
So, next year, when I’m once more unwillingly besieged by all those warm and fuzzy holiday commercials and specials, I’ll have my crystal meth pipe handy, take a few puffs, and start believing in Santa all over again.