Today Is Christmas…But For Me, It’s Just Another Day

Today is Christmas.  It’s the day that I spent almost my entire life anxiously waiting for.  It was always such a magical day for me and I looked forward to it with unbridled eagerness.
In the past, there had been lean ones and there had been bountiful ones.  There had been joyful ones and there had been sorrowful ones.  There had been ones that were gleefully anticipated and there had been ones that were woefully dreaded.  There had been passionate ones and there had been emotionless ones.
Today, though…is just another day.

There will never be another Christmas when I am awakened by my four children standing at the bedroom door, shouting “Merry Christmas.”  There will never be another Christmas when Loser and I will have our first cup of coffee in the set of over-sized Royal Daulton china cups, that were reserved for that holiday only.

This year, I am alone.  It’s not the first Christmas that I have spent alone and I don’t imagine that it will be the last.
Today, though…is just another day.

There will be no stockings filled with chocolate covered marshmallow Santa Clauses and other tooth-rotting, blood-sugar-raising candy.  There will be no family gatherings.  There will be no feast.  There will be no visits from friends.  There will be no visits from children or grandchildren.
Today…is just another day.

There will be no “A Christmas Story” marathon playing on the television.  There will be no hugs and thank-yous’, whether genuine or insincere.  There will be no afterglow while sitting around, ogling the slew of presents.  There will be no decision on who gathers up the rumpled and torn wrapping paper and throws it away.
I will be wearing no new baubles, whether given from guilt or obligation.  There will be no specialty quilts given to anybody.
Today…is just another day.

There will be no disingenuous, hurried goodbye kiss from Loser as he leaves me to go play golf or travel across town to spend the rest of the day with his precious fucking mama and daddy.  There will be no impatient waiting until “It’s A Wonderful Life” comes on later.
I will not proudly display the pillow that I embroidered with the saying “the bell still rings for me” because it no longer rings for me.  I will not be covered up with the Christmas quilt that K**** made.
I will not have crept into the living room after everybody else had gone to sleep, to sit and watch the lights on the tree as if to try to burn it into my memory long enough for it to last until the next year.  I will not have imagined that I could hear the bells on Santas’ sleigh.
Today…is just another day.

There will be no hand-holding with Loser tonight as we quiz each other about the pleasure our gifts brought to each other.  There will be no conjecture about whether the children liked their gifts and got everything they wanted.

This year, there will be no empty “Merry Christmas” text or phone call from Loser.  There will be no texts or calls from my children.  There will be no refusal to visit or bring children to my house “because I didn’t bother to decorate.”
Today…is just another day.

There will be no need to worry about putting large boxes that housed giant flat-screen televisions on the curb for fear somebody will break into the house.  There will be no spending days and days, disassembling huge trees and carefully packing up treasured ornaments all by myself as I had always had to do before.  There will be no need to feel nostalgic when putting away pictures of grandchildrens’ first encounter with Santa Clause.  There will be no searching for delinquent strands of tinsel that have flown away and found what they think is a safe hiding place.
Today…is just another day.

There will be no left-over Christmas cookies or fruitcake or pot roast.  There will be no frantic hunt for all of those wonderful after Christmas sales.  There will be no “seasonal depression” that always afflicted me for the first few weeks after Christmas.

Today is Christmas…but for me, it’s just another day.


My Grandma And Grandpa

My grandma and grandpa were my daddys’ mama and daddy.  Mama never called them anything but Mr. and Mrs. S******* so that’s what I called them until the day they died.  My daddy called his mama “mama” and he called his daddy “papa.”  My grandpa called my grandma “son.”
They both had the patience of Job.  I never saw them get mad…even when my uncle got drunk, fell down and my grandpa and I had to pick him up and try to get him in the bed.
My grandma was one of the best cooks around and could “whomp” up a meal fit for a king…out of nothing.  Our main “meat” was fat-back (or salt pork as it is called in the North.)  To this day, I still love fat-back.
She would tell me it was time for dinner, which was my cue to go out in the yard and dig up Irish potatoes.  That’s when I developed my love of raw potatoes.  I would eat the potatoes, skins, dirt and all.
My grandpa loved the same white gravy that Loser did.  It was so thick, that a spoonful would “stay put” if it was turned upside down.
My grandmas’ coffee was, as my grandpa said, “strong enough to grow hair on your chest.”
My grandma had “Southernisms.”  She would say “el, I wished I’m a die.”  That meant she was flabbergasted.  She would say that I was looking “peurt” which meant spry.  I do believe that she was one of the sweetest women who ever lived.  The only one who could even compare was Losers’ Grandma H*** (his daddys’ mama.)
My grandma would stand and look out the window for what seemed like hours.  Mama used to make fun of her for doing that but later in her life, she did the same thing.  I asked my grandma what she was seeing and she said “I’m just looking.”
My grandma surprised me once when she said that she would like to go to Hollywood.  I was teasing her about wanting to see a good-looking movie star or something but she said “I’d like to see Disneyland.”
I lived in “Mickey Mouse” world for many years but I never went to see any of the attractions.  I wish now that I had so my grandma could have seen it through my eyes.
I don’t know much about her childhood except that she was sent away to live with relatives when she was about five.  I know she had brothers and one of them was accidentally shot and killed when he was sixteen.  I know she barely remembered her daddy.  She had a picture of him that hung on the wall.  I heard her tell my grandpa one time that she dreamed about her daddy that night.
She only went to the seventh grade and I was completely surprised when I got a letter from her.  I don’t think it occurred to me that she could read or write.
I know nothing about my grandpas’ childhood, other than he was raised by his mamas’ second husband and he was apparently a good step-daddy.  My grandpas’ daddy died when he was twenty-three.  Rumor has it that he was arguably one of the most handsome men to ever come out of Madison County.  He stood six feet six inches tall.
He died from typhoid fever.  Rumor also has it that my grandpas’ mama was a beautiful woman and never really got over “the love of her life.”  Neither my grandma or grandpa ever talked about their young lives.
My grandpa talked a little about some things.  He was too young for World War I and he was too old for World War II.  He grew up dirt poor and remained poor his entire life.
He told me that after he and my grandma got married and had my daddy, he was desperate to find a job but there were none to be found.  He was walking home after an exhausting, unfruitful day of searching for work and spotted a man putting a new roof on his feed and seed building.  My grandpa asked him if he needed any help and the man said no.  My grandpa said he started out standing on the ground, talking…then he was halfway up the ladder…talking…then he was on the roof…talking…and before long, he was helping the man put on his roof.  He worked for ten hours and the man paid him a nickel.  My grandpa worked all week, for twenty-five cents and ten nails.
He taught me that if you dip a nail in oil, you can “almost drive it into concrete” and if a screw is loose, all you have to do is take the screw out, put a toothpick in the hole and it will tighten right up.
My grandpa had a little book that he kept right beside the sofa.  Every time he read or heard something interesting, he would write it down.  What I wouldn’t give for that little book.  He was writing in it one day and when he was finished, he asked me if I knew what a sideburn was.  I told him I did and he asked me if I knew where the term came from.  He said that it was from a man named Robert Burnside who had the lamb chop thing going on.  I remembered that and actually won a trivia contest once because that was a question.
My grandma, having a bad back, wore a “girdle-type” back brace for as long as I could remember.  She had a favorite chair…a turquoise recliner.  She was sitting in it one day and my grandpa walked by and gently touched her on the cheek.  She blushed like a new bride.  I will never forget that tender moment they shared.
Years later, when I introduced them to my second daughter and told them her name, my grandma said “el…that’s B**s’ name.”  I was so glad they got to know her name before they died.
When my grandpa died, I think my grandma grieved herself to death.  I wasn’t told that they had died because (as I said) my daddy said “I was afraid you would try to come to their funeral.”  I guess he didn’t want to piss mama off…just like Loser kept all of us away from his daddys’ funeral so it wouldn’t piss off his precious mama.
My daddy went over to their house (which they left to my drunk uncle, who promptly sold it for booze) and picked up her old washboard from the yard.  Until the day she died, she washed all of their clothes by hand and used that washboard.  B gave it to me and it is among my most treasured belongings.
Somehow, he got her wedding rings.  I didn’t even know she had any.  She had at some point, told B that she wanted her granddaughter to have them.  He gave them to my little sister, who probably wouldn’t have recognized my grandma and grandpa if she had passed them on the street.  I asked him if he really thought she wanted D**** to have them.  He said “mama said she wanted her granddaughter to have them.”  I wonder who the Hell he thought I was?
I quickly got in touch with my little sister (who had said if she ever passed me on the street, she would spit in my face) and offered a trade.  I didn’t care if she spit on me…I wanted those rings.
I gave her a ruby and diamond ring, necklace, bracelet and earrings to match.  I would have given her my entire jewelry box.
A few years ago, I gave those rings to my middle daughter.  Even though she no longer speaks to me, I hope she will treasure them.
I didn’t know where my grandma and grandpa were buried.  I called the records department one day and they told me the name of the cemetery.  A friend of mine and I found it.  My drunk uncle was buried right beside them and I resented it.  I only glanced at it long enough to see his worthless name on the tombstone.
They were two wonderful people who loved me and tried to make me feel like I mattered.
I knelt on their graves and talked to them for a few minutes.  I told them that I was too damaged to know or appreciate how much they cared about me.  I was too damaged and broken to let them know how much they meant to me and I wanted them to know it now.
I hope I will see them again someday.

About This Woman I Call My REAL Big Sister

There is a woman in my life that I call my REAL big sister.  She is everything anybody could ever want in a sister and she is everything anybody could ever want in a friend.  I call her my RBS.
She protects me with the fierceness of a mother lioness.  She supports me with the staunchness of a concrete pillar that will not bend, break or sway.
She has a kindness in her face that is immediately detectable to everybody she meets.  She has rich, dark ebony hair and eyes that almost dance when she smiles.  She has an infectious giggle that helps me remember how a laugh used to sound.  If I can manage a laugh now and then, I can hear the joy in her heart.
She calls me “honey” and it touches me because I know it is genuine.
She has never dismissed my values as being “puritan” but rather respects and applauds them.
She tempers my anger when I’m talking about things that Loser and other people have said and done, by assigning deliciously insulting monikers to them, exactly the way a sister would and should.
My RBS will spend her entire day taking people to doctors’ appointments and acts as though it was as common as answering the telephone.  She is the kind of person who would come to your rescue without being asked.  She is so unassuming that I don’t think she could even come close to realizing the impact she has on other peoples’ lives…especially mine.
She is loving and giving and feels my pain as if it were it were her own.  She is a mentor and a confidant and I have no doubt that she would take a bullet for me.  I have no doubt that she would let herself be crucified before she would betray anybodys’ trust…especially mine.
She has walked with me through the darkest days of my life, covering me with an invisible cloak of tenderness and has never callously told me to “get over it.”  She has never tired of listening to the months and years of the endless grief that I have shared with her.  She has cried and ached with me and for me.
She talks softly to me when I’m sad or upset…not because she thinks I’m fragile or need to be placated…but because she has an inherent, caring nature.
Even though we live on opposite sides of the geographical continent, I can feel her arms around me.
She is a true gift that was sent to me from the angels.  She is a priceless, one-of-a-kind treasure.
I have two biological sisters but I had never known what a REAL sister was, until I met my RBS.
Those of you out there who have been blessed with the gift of a big sister will understand what I mean when I say, there is nothing that can compare to the love of a REAL big sister.