Happy Humbuggery

I haven’t had much time to write in the past week. My job has been a bit on the demanding side what with the caterings for seasonal parties, and the local university’s graduation ceremonies bringing in a couple of thousand extra people into town. All of whom needed a place to have a good meal, most of whom decided that had to happen between five and seven p.m. on Saturday night. I thought I had bulled through it and managed to sleep in on my first day off in a week, but when I awoke  this morning I was introduced to fresh hell that I could no longer put off participating in holiday preparations with the family.

I am neither religious, nor am I a fan of gross consumerism so pretty much the whole holidays thing is lost on me. I am all about good will towards men, so long we’re speaking inclusively about the entire human race. Provided ,of course, that inclusively they leave me to my own devices and don’t go trying to throw any holiday cheer my way. Especially the carollers. I can’t believe we live in world where gangs of roving merry makers are allowed to go around singing at decent hard-working people. What do I pay taxes for, I ask you?

Anyway, the majority of society has these things called holidays. I also have a nine-year old daughter, and as I recall the path to disillusionment and bitterness in adulthood does indeed start with the childhood wonder at the magic of this particular season. In result I am required to do holiday type things. This morning I took her out so she could get her mother a present. To this end my wife is getting a hot glue gun for christmas.

The evening was spent putting together a rather sad little tree purchased at the discount store. Not a real tree of course. I am fairly sure that this one is made from recycled plastics and disappointment. Then, there was the annual sorting of gew gaws so that the could be hung on the skeletal piece of greenery. Nothing glass mind you, because inevitably the damned cat is going to climb up it and knock everything off, and nothing of any significant weight because It would probably make the poor thing look even more depressing. But, it is up and has been sufficiently admired for the time being, and now my family has gone off into separate rooms in order to avoid any uncomfortable togetherness.

So the point of all this is that for the next few weeks I will be busy doing things I do not in general approve of and then moping about how little I have accomplished for the year, and finally making a great deal of overly ambitious and most likely empty promises to myself about the next.

So I hope you had a Happy Monday, and all have a wonderful whatever it is you’re planning on having.

Let’s pick this up again sometime in early January shall we?

It Happens Every Year

It is once again that time of year when my residence becomes festooned with ornaments, do-dads, trinkets, gewgaws, knickknacks, baubles, adornments, and various other pieces of utterly useless crap that I never wanted, just to have them stare at me mockingly for three weeks or so; until the day that I manage to wrestle them all back into their respective boxes and put it all back into storage for eleven and a half months of the year. Meanwhile every nook, cranny, alcove, and recess hides a gift from the prying eyes of a six-year-old. This is the hazard of being a family man I suppose.

I guess you could safely say that I am not a “Christmas” type of person. I hadn’t celebrated it in years, not really since my mom died. My dad never really cared for all the rigmarole, him being both an atheist and generally opposed to crass consumerism, and so it just fell by the wayside. The holiday went largely unobserved until he passed away as well two years later. After that I just didn’t need to bother at all. I was usually alone for the holidays after that and felt quite fine about it. There were sometimes parties or other gatherings that I attended, but it always just seemed like just another party, except there was tinsel strewn around and the music was more annoying than usual.

On one or two occasions I somehow wound up spending the holiday with someone else’s family; a roommate’s or a girlfriend’s parents would ask me to come over for Christmas dinner. Those were awkward, usually because it was the first time their families had ever met me in person; and here they are doing this serious familial ritual stuff and here’s me sitting quietly on the end of the couch not belonging there at all.

After I got engaged to my wife I was a regular at her family’s gatherings across the board. This worked out after a couple of years, as I got to know their quirks, but it really never made an impact on me either way if we were getting together for Christmas, or Labor Day; of course, once again, the decorations were different, and sometimes the weather; but in Florida even that isn’t guaranteed.

It wasn’t until my daughter was born until any of it mattered a fig to me again. It wasn’t much at first since a Christmas tree really isn’t the most baby proof of items, but the magically appeared in my life a cute little outfit for my darling little girl to wear. Simple gifts with brightly colored, to large to swallow, and slobber proof seemed to be the major criteria.

When she was two we put up the first tree I had dealt with in probably close to twenty years. A small affair, measuring only three and a half, maybe for feet in height; set on up on an old typewriter stand we found in the thrift store. It was elegant with its bows and balls and beads of red and gold, and a string of white lights. Didn’t really take long most of the ornaments to break between the efforts of the toddler and the cats, but damn it we tried. The girl got a tricycle that year. Assembly of that blasted thing was unreasonably complicated and aggravating as I recall. From then on the decorating thing kind of leveled off for one reason or another but the season seemed to keep getting increasingly expensive.

Then there is the issue of the fat man. I am not sure my wife and I, two fairly scientific minded adults, decided to contribute to the perpetuating of the Santa Claus myth. I was fairly certain that we decided against it during the pregnancy and explicitly decided against it. We probably should have been clearer with the grandparents and other family members about this point because somehow I unknowingly got involved in a complex game of subterfuge and chicanery with someone who is a natural detective. To be honest I find this part of it quite fun. I think my daughter already has suspicions about Old St. Nick’s existence but finds.it amusing to play along for now.

In truth my daughter, the sole reason I bother with this holiday mess at all, makes it all enjoyable. Her anticipation of presents to come, the exuberance she has for setting up the decorations, her enjoyment of those horrible holiday songs; I just can’t help feeling just a little excited along with her.

The Company Christmas Party

I am sitting at home this evening because I have opted out of the restaurant’s Christmas party again this year. I thought about going but it just wasn’t my best option, for a lot of reasons. I mean, I am not really a Christmas type of guy, but that’s a whole nother story. It has got me thinking about the last couple of holiday parties that have gone by and my life events of the time while I’ve working for my current employers.

2010 was a rather bad year for me. As the result of a drunken fall, I injured my shoulder which put me on a reduced work schedule; the drop in my income and excesses of my habits put me very behind on my bills and family and I had to take refuge in the home of my mother-in-law and her husband for several months. A small house  and conflicting personalities made for a stressful and volatile holiday season. That year at the Christmas party I was in a very dark place in my mind. Anger and insecurity about my abilities to care and provide for my wife and daughter had been haunting me pushing me deeper into my drinking and farther away from my real priorities. That year I sat staring into a fire pit drinking deeply from tall boys of PBR to was down the resentment I felt towards myself. The whole party I didn’t really feel like I was there myself; it was more like I was off to one side, looking in on my own life and finding fault with everything I had done. This is when I should have stopped drinking, right then, that night. I should have dropped my beer into the fire and walked off and gone back to my family. Instead things got worse. Oh, I “slowed down” for a while out of something resembling guilt, but I managed to start the New Year off with yet another drunken fall less than two weeks into January.

After recovering from my broken knee in 2011 I returned to work, and as the Yuletide season drew near things seemed to be going well enough. Despite the fact that I was still a drunk I was to all outward appearance, mostly responsible and upstanding as well as moderately financially stable; privately my life was quite a deep hole of self-doubt, disappointment, and a small amount of paranoia. Joining in the festivities seemed like a good idea. Overall that year’s party went quite well from a certain point of view. I sat, mostly in one place, chain-smoking cigarettes, drinking quite a lot of Kentucky bourbon and beer, and being complimented frequently about how much I was liked; It felt a bit like holding court. By the end of the night however it was just me sitting in a chair drunk and alone, and still drinking. The angry little part of me chimed in about how I could have done this all at home except for the part where everyone came around and blew smoke up your ass. I just had to drink myself right out of my own good time. After that night I began to do a lot less social drinking and a lot more of the lonely and depressing kind.

Which brings us to last year. I felt I was coping well with my habits; I even managed to quit smoking without killing anyone or getting a divorce, though there may have been a few close calls on both fronts. My management of my drinking was following along quite nicely on my “I don’t give a happy damn anymore!” plan, and I began to get in more and more alcohol fueled depressions accompanied by fits of towering rage. In a near perpetual state of intoxication focus was once again lost on the payment of bills and I was forced to face the undeniable fact that this was a pattern. I committed to sobriety and thus took the safer option of avoiding any situation where I’d be tempted to drink. This necessitated my absence from many events for a while including the annual company party. Last year I chose not to attend based on the easy to reach conclusion that I could not be trusted to not drink; I had only been sober for less than ninety days at that point and was one pleasant little exception away from turning back to the booze.

This year, I am quite confident that this would not have been the case but, I felt little would be gained in my testing my resolve on the matter. More to the point we had a rough weekend serving dinner to those fortunate souls who graduated this winter from the local university and I have been dragging along for almost a week now battling my December cold and I have to be up at six in the morning. I am tired and I don’t feel well and I doubt my tolerance would be very high in regards to sitting in a house watching my all of my coworkers spend the evening getting completely plastered. It’s nothing personal, they are all lovely people in their own ways but drunk people are pretty intolerable when you are not one of them.

I wish each and every one of the party goers Happy Holidays and maybe I will see one or two of them slinking home after I drop my kid off at school