Why I Hate The Holidays
Don’t you love all that warm and fuzzy family propaganda we are besieged with on all sides this time of year? You know, the stereotypical family around the table (with a few blacks or Asians or even gay marrieds – or maybe a transgendered aunt, huh? – to be politically correct), carving the turkey or ham or trimming the tree, all to push that stuffing, the latest iphone, xbox, or luxury car.
Why all that warm and fuzzy stuff bothers at least me is because it reminds me of the days when the holidays were exactly that. Sort of. 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.
I did my master’s degree at the University of California in L.A. and was perplexed how, around the holidays, all the North Eastern traditions, not Latin American since we were so close to the border immersed in balmy weather, dominated the season. I felt the same way when I came down to South Florida to find Christmas trees under tents so they wouldn’t dry up under the 80 degree sun. But now I realize why – people want to return to the Christamases of their youths and for so many of us the East Coast or Snowbelt was home.
But after some moments of bittersweet nostalgia, the other, less pleasant memories of those idyllic days rush back into my mind, and suddenly my mythical holidays vanish. 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!” Meaning us.
Worse, living with my psychiatrically unstable mother, gone now a full decade, 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 Mom’s 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.
Well, everyone’s dead and buried, and my sister’s back in New York with her hubby, grown kids and grand kids, and George and I have split so he won’t be down for the holidays either. Instead he’ll be all warm and cozy up at our home in PA that I still pay half the mortgage on. (Yes, he got the better end of the deal.) And he always has his adult nephew just across the border in Upstate New York who most likely will invite him over.
Me? I’m going out with my neighbor and her mother to a Kosher diner, definitely a first for me on Thanksgiving. I told her I’m already an Honorary Jew since my mother grew up in a Jewish neighborhood and it definitely rubbed off on me.
Wonder if my goy (Yiddish for Christian) dogs will eat any leftovers I bring home?