Monday, November 27, 2006

Can Anyone Tell Me What Christmas is All About?!

Hello, Internet! How was your Thanksgiving? I hope that you had all the turkey you could hope for and a minimum of family drama. Things were fairly quiet down in Little Rhody. My brother and I got caught in traffic on Friday, got to Rhode Island, picked up my Mom and we went out for dinner, then brought my Mom home and went to see Borat. I was pissed that the movie cost me $10 (last time I saw a movie in Rhode Island it was $8.50) but it was good to see the moviefilm again. Instead of stopping at the new 24-hour Wal-Mart on the way home, we just went back to the homestead so I could keep my laundry moving and I enjoyed access to cable internet and expanded basic cable channels.

Thursday didn't really dawn in Rhode Island... it kind of dripped. Rain splattered against the windows as my Mom and I started up her breadmaker and waited for the Macy's Parade to start. Another thing I forgot to be thankful for was Katie Couric not being present for the festivities. Meredith Viera started out by saying "As a little girl growing up in Rhode Island, I loved the parade."

"Represent, Meredith!" I yelled back at the TV. My Mom clapped for the Rhody girl done good.

We watched the dancers and marching bands get soaked on TV, and set the table for the food my uncle was preparing. My mother got the news on Tuesday that she'll in all likelihood need back surgery next year, so she wasn't up for preparing a whole Thanksgiving meal. We steamed some veggies and heated some rolls since the bread machine was taking forever to work. My uncle and grandfather brought over the food, including tons of mashed potatoes for me. It's so odd that people stress out for weeks over Thanksgiving meals because by the time the food appears, everyone is ravenous and shovels it into their faces in about ten minutes before the bloat sets in. Everything my uncle made was very good, but I inhaled my plate of food in about ten minutes.

After we cleaned up our dishes and visited with my Mom's family, we ran out to the car and drove to my Dad's side of the family. Despite telling us they were going to eat early, we arrived to join them for dessert and found them just sitting down to their meal. My Mom, brother, and I sat in the living room, shuttling small tastes of whatever my aunt wanted us to try back and forth. I had some wine and listened to the banter in the other room. Their meal ended quickly as well, since my grandmother's aunt started feeling faint and my grandparents took her home before dessert at her insistence.

"Her sons need to take care of her," my aunt said once my grandparents had left with the frail aunt. "Her 'priestly' son, helping his flock while his own mother needs help. I know she doesn't want them around, but they need to have someone check in on her who isn't my mother."

The holidays are great, but it's sad to see my family getting old. I think about what life will be like when my grandparents aren't around, and then what will happen when my aunts and uncles are old. I don't expect to spend much time with any of my cousins-- two live in California, and my local cousin isn't exactly my buddy like he once was. I've lived twenty-five years with my family the way it is, and I can only hope I'll have my own family by the time things start changing too much. I cannot imagine a holiday where my grandmother doesn't return to the party after making sure her aunt was okay with a jam jar holding what looks like urine, but is actually hard alcohol, and my aunt getting up to get some ice in a glass for her without being asked.

Sam and I had planned to drive back to Boston on Thursday night, but it was raining so hard that two lights away from my aunt's house my Mom laid down the law and said we'd wait until morning to head in. Sam and I got up Friday morning and stopped at Dunkin Donuts, where the clerk had to ask Sam four times if he wanted whipped cream on his hot chocolate before it registered with him. I drove up while Sam stared into space. I unloaded my stuff, put on some makeup, pointed Sam in the right direction to get home, then walked to the part-time job.

It actually wasn't that bad-- I feel that if I'd worked in a big-box store like Best Buy or Target things would have been far more nightmarish than they were in my little corner of retail. We didn't have any doorbuster sales, nor any good deals on anything for the winter holidays so people tended to wander then leave. I stood by the door, watching people come in and out, getting more and more tired as the evening went on. I happily left at four, wandered to the liquor store to buy some beer, then crashed on my couch for a while.

Yesterday I went to Target and Ikea, neither of which was insanely busy. I wanted Christmas lights at Target, but for silly plastic lights all they had were chili pepper lights. I'd brought my "disco tree" out of my Mom's basement for the first time in a few years. Since Roommate Deb was sensitive about Christmas decorations (she's Jewish) and I didn't want to start any more fighting, I left the tree at home during holidays at my last apartment. I happily propped it up as soon as I opened my beer on Friday evening and watched as the fiber-optic tips of the branches light up. I also want a wreath to hang and smell piny in my little fortress of solitude. At Ikea, I bought a paper lantern to hang over my bed instead of the horrible fluorescent light, and the light was soft and nice. I lit a candle and sat on my bed, listening to classical music in the dim light. It dawned on me how much I want a little house of my own someday soon, with a nice little kitchen and huge bookshelves and tasteful decor.

The holidays are harder as an adult too, because everything I want this year is not available in stores. I want a sense of financial security. I want my student loans and/or credit cards paid off. I want a little condo someplace nice without vermin and with kitchen counters. I want a career I like. I want things that can't be put in a box. I made a wish list on Amazon for my Mom, but it's all little things (except a new laptop, which my Mom can't afford for me) because all the big things I want aren't for sale.

I wish I could be satisfied by a Barbie doll or a new bike like when I was a kid.

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