Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bah Humbug

Poor Bill. Poor dogs. Poor friends and relations. Poor anyone who casually knows me.

Am I the only person alive who will be happy when all this holiday crapola is over? If you are a person who loves all things Christmas or Hanukkah or Solstice or whatever, you just go right on to your next blog and have a wonderful, blessed, happy winter. Please. Read no farther. You've been warned. But if this time of year makes you yearn for July, this is the place for you. I do understand.

OK, let me back up a bit. It's raining. It's been raining for three weeks, I swear. All day every day. All night every night. Actually what I hear on the bedroom window right now sounds more like sleet. Yup. Definitely sleet. So we've now gone from three weeks of constant hard rain to the only thing better: frozen rain. Oh glee.

The dogs are bored out of their collective gourds. And the only thing they hate worse than cold or rainy weather is cold and rainy weather. But they are, unlike their grouchy Servant, penultimate optimists. They ask to go out with eager anticipation that I've fixed the weather situation. They fly through the door like those little individual fighter plains that Luke Skywalker piloted: zoom, swhoosh, nyarrom. Only to skid to a disgusted, disappointed, united halt at the breezeway steps when they see the rain. Again. Nope, they were mistaken, they don't have to go out, after all. Until five minutes later when they think, "Hey! Maybe she's warmed it up and dried it out. Let's go see! Let us out, let us out, let us out!" I open the door, they swoop out. They turn around mid-swoop and slink back in. Yuck.

Forget walks. It is just way too cold and it's pouring. Forget it.

Ok, so that's on top of not such a great holiday childhood. From the minute I could speak, I wanted a horse. I mean I lived for a horse. Every Christmas list consisted of (1) horse, (2) dog. And that was it. No number three. (When I was eleven, I think I put a Barbie as number three, to my poor mother's relief, but then I tried to iron her hair which melted into a horrifyingly putrid blob on my poor mother's iron.) And my father was not such a happy soul. We have ten or so years of home movies. Three excited little girls, dressed to near immobilization in snow suits, sporting scarves, hats, and mittens knitted by the woman holding the camera. Off the family trudges up the Berkshire Mountains behind their house. You see the tree being chopped and sawed, but the actual felling always eluded my poor mother. You see the tree lying on the snow. Then the camera captures the three little girls being stabbed by pine needles as they struggle to help carry the thing back down the mountain through the knee deep snow. The father has managed to belittle each one of us in such a special, stinging, particular way that all three of the little girls are privately crying. Our mother makes us hot chocolate and tells us to hush while our father chops off a couple of feet and then a couple more from the bottom of the way too tall tree, just boiling in an anger stew. (We had suggested that perhaps the tree was too big, and we had been made fun of, and had been made to feel stupid and worthless. Being right didn't help a bit, what with all that stupidity and worthlessness weighing us down. Plus, being right created a whole new subset of anger.) Then we got to decorate it. Unless you were my father, you couldn't put a decoration in a right place. ("No, no, no not there.") And my sister always managed to drop a fragile ornament which always broke and always resulted in such disgust from my father. Tsking and sighing, and what's-wrong-with-you. (Gee, I don't know do you think it could have been the slight case of Cerebral Palsy? Just a guess here.) And then we all started crying again, ran up to our rooms, and my mother finished decorating the tree.

And, no matter how hard I tried, and Lord knows I tried, I couldn't make my own son's Christmas much better than mine had been. All he wanted was to be important to his biological father. I bought him way too many presents, and he knew how much Bill - thank God for Bill - and I loved him. But he wanted to be valued by his dad, who could value nothing but himself.

And while we're on the subject of Fathers and Sons. The Christmas story is supposed to be so sweet and lovely, but to me it's not so much. Mary has to give birth to her first child in a cold barn. No midwife, no women relatives helping, no epidural or I.V. Demerol. Just days of exhausting travel on a donkey at full term due to some tax law, followed by being in labor during a panicky but futile search for a hotel. An then, after raising her treasured Son, whom she has been told is Pretty Special, she gets to sit and watch him take three days to die of crucifixion. Probably not what she had in mind when the angels told her he was the King Of Kings. As a mother, I just cannot get my heart around the immensity of that horror. And as a Father, could God have not planned something just a wee bit more loving for his only Son?

So here I am. Kids are grown. Grandkids are far away. And I am old enough to feel like I don't have to pretend any more. I've decided I don't like the whole holiday thing. I am dismal at present getting. I can't plan ahead worth beans. And if I do find a perfect gift in June, I give it in June. When I do the dreaded Christmas shopping, I spend literal hours on each person, stressing over just the perfect gift, and then spend too much. While I'm wrapping the thing, I realise it is the most colossally inane bit of idiocy, and I just know that the recipient will hate it. Not just hate it but be offended by the lack of forethought, by how stupid a gift it is. I wrap the thing, but I just want to cry. And go away.

The only decorations in the house are the scores of festive cards. Almost every card has a whippet photograph. Every card makes me feel so guilty because I haven't carved the time to make and send my cards. Great.

Did I mention it's been raining forever?

We woke this morning to a dusting of snow. The old dogs are not impressed. But the two youngest are ecstatic. They are silly and zoomy and so thrilled not to be rained on. They are running too fast to notice the biting cold wind. They make me smile, despite my ludicrous self. We are the last stop tonight of a progressive dinner for around sixteen of our friends. Dessert - my weakest culinary link - and another Dirty Santa gift exchange. I hope this is the one where we're supposed to do gag gifts, because I'm doing the old poop calendar one more time. Only this time instead of the poop candle, it's a quarter pound of chocolate in the shape of a poo. I have another gift wrapped up just in case... If the rest of the diners do not put gag gifts under that tree, I'm you betcha hiding the poo calendar and chocolate poo and replacing them with the nice gift. Oh only there isn't any tree at our house. We're going to hang a wreath on the coat closet door and put the gifts under that. Deck the halls.

This house was on the Christmas tour the first couple of years we lived here. Open to the public who had bought tickets with the proceeds going to charity. Decorated to the gills. I bet our friends coming tonight are expecting holly and tinsel. I hope the smell of the freshly baked pies and gourmet coffee will distract them. (Who am I kidding? I stink at pies!)

So there it is. I hope I've made you feel better by realizing you are not the only one who feels like this. I'm going to start baking and cleaning. I know tonight will be fun, and I know that July will indeed come again. I think that this year on Christmas day, I'm going to go to the homeless shelter and help serve meals. See, this big ranting entry brought me right to that very wonderful decision and now I'm feeling much better about the whole holiday thing.

Maybe I'll dig out a decoration or two after all.

Hug your hounds.



  1. Frankly,I know my heart aches for some of those Christmas's past....fond memories to erase all the childhood disappoiontment of not having Xmas in my all 'gentile' hoity toity neighborhood.

    Having found wonderful celebration in most recent years with my best beloved whippet friends on this very weekend in Bethlehem (PA) sharing wine, gifts, friendship, and even an occasional blue ribbon day!

    I miss those days. I miss my friends.

  2. YES!!! Take that holidays!! Humbug.


  3. I'm with you, Patience! Poo on Christmas, anyway.

  4. Are we twins separated at birth!?

    You have inspired my own blog post on the matter!

  5. While I didn't have bad xmas memories when growing up, I can understand what you're going through. Decorations? None here. Not even putting up the 3 foot fake tree. Why put up the tree when I'm moving soon. Well hopefully soon...

    Heck, at this point all I want for xmas is a place to rent in NC. The job's ready. Just don't have any place to live in yet.

  6. Look at the positive outcome of your bah humbug attitude this year...think how satisfying it will be to be able to help others at the homeless shelter...for you and them. We all need to take the time to live everyday in the way it will make us the most happy, which you seem to have a great handle on.
    Even if it happens to mean an abnormal fixation on doggie poop candles and pictures!

  7. Wow..and I thought my family was the one which put the fun back in dysfunctional!

    Christmas at our house used to be for children. Now it is for the dog (OK, dogs) They are better at joy than the children ever were, more excited about their presents, and more exuberant in their thanks.

    Plus, you don't pay for college, and graduate school....and...and....and.

    Maybe we should get another dog.

    hugs from Barb, who is Gussie's muzzer and also a bit stressed.

  8. You know, my mom and I love Christmas, we love every holiday and we read your entry anyway because sometimes you need a little Bah Humbug, with the rain and the being away from home for christmas and the ugly slush.

    Even so if mom finds a gift in July she gives it for the Fourth of July, if mom doesn't find a gift for someone for christmas - she doesn't give a gift for christmas. She's not perfect at christmas or any holiday but just the same to our family my mom is christmas.

    Even christmas needs bah humbug.

  9. I LOVED this post, Patience. There is just TOO much pressure and stress during the holdiays, and I'll be glad when it's over, too!

  10. After this post, I realized that I almost feel like you do. Hope the dinner party turned out well. If I have time I will bake you some bread for Christmas, maybe that will make you feel better.

  11. Ranting is good for the soul.

    Speaking of horses - have you seen the Verizon commercial with the three teenage girls in the backyard? Two have shiny new phones and the third is looking in horror at a pony who is happily eating the roof of the doghouse? It is quite amusing.

    (with three males in the house I rarely get to see the TV, so I try to enjoy what I can)

    *hugs* from me & Agnes.

  12. hey its ok to not like all the fuss! we really get grumpy when it rains too, so that never helps things!

  13. jeannie from Scotland, Hollowhound Marvin s MaDecember 18, 2007 at 2:10 PM

    oh my Patience, just read and then re read this.

    I have so much bad stuff about Christmas, you made me feel normal with this post!

    When my three were young (now 19, 25 and 29 - and yes, I was a total child bride!!!!) Christmases were just the pits for me, but possibly their best memories ever. We were short of money, and yet not short of imagination, and every darn Christmas brought me more stress than I have ever experienced since.

    Limit of money, but wanting to make it magical etc.

    We always got there in the end, but Christmas ended up being a place I did not want to me.

    I too long for July, those hot and long days of sunlight, those wonderful light suppers and fun walks, those early morning walks when the sun rises through the mists in the woods and astounds you with its total and utter beauty.

    Thank you for this blog post, the pressure of Christmas is off me now. My three, one stil at home, remember the Christmasses past with great love and affection, all I remember is feeling depressed and worried about the non existent money I was spending.

    Yet strangely, for all that, their good memories are of watching The Snowman on TV (do you get The Snowman in the is a real tradition here!).....little sweet mandarin oranges and opening their little stockings in our bed on Christmas morning with all the sad little gifts which get trodden into the carpet the rest of the year.

    They also remember when Mummy and Daddy had champagne at breakfast, sherry while opening the presents round the tree, wine with the turkey dinner, and Mummy (me!) falling asleep during the endless repeat on the tv of "The Sound of Musice" or Mummy, awake but crying non stop at the endless repeat of "Gone With the Wind" when Clark Gable says "frankly my dear, ....etc"

    No Christmas apparently I have read is the time when more suicides are reported and more people go missing.

    Thank you for making me feel a wee bit more normal.

    I love your Blog! You tell it like it is for most of us!!!!!!!

  14. THANK YOU! I told my co-worker earlier today that I have no holiday spirit and I'm pretty sure I won't be getting any before the whole sad thing is over! I don't decorate, I don't do cards, I don't even give gifts anymore...partly because we stopped giving gifts to adults in our family so I no longer receive any. I know it's petty but there you are. Anyway, Thank You for giving voice to what I have been thinking.

  15. Well, I was GOING to BOO HOO you, as we in upstate NY are well on the way to our yearly 200 inches of white cold crap..but Dear Patience, you too are pretty special-such talent-and now I have insight into your self-doubt. But as long as St.Bill and the Waggle are around, you are #1 EVERY DAY!!We don't decorate either-too much bother.And if you don't make a big fuss,there is less letdown when it's over-with whippets,every day is Special!!-keep heart-Martha and P-Doggy (soon to be seen in WN)

  16. this post rings so many bells with me. childhood ones were not entirely joyous and every year the stuff echoes again. this year we have been really broke so have had a zero budget and had a really low key, nice time. somehow making all the presents and doing everything ourselves made it feel less stressful.

    our friend came with her daughter and her lurcher. both her parents died this year, after long illnesses, and it really put things in perspective when we were walking in the woods on christmas day and she said it was the first christmas in 4 years that she hadn't spent in a hospital.


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