13 December 2015

The Christmas Letter

Be it on record: I am not ready for this thing called Christmas. I have not been ready for it since about 1985. That might have been the year the festive suckling pig was four inches too long for my oven. Mercifully I forget how we made the adjustment but a bit of trimming was involved and artful placement of windfall crabapples. We used to get the succulent wienies from Mr. McDowell, the inarticulate but terrifically competent farmer on the Escarpment above Campbellville. Times past.

We had traditions. Dinner was the customary noisy scenario with assorted family ― the good china clattering around, crackers and dumb paper hats, assorted wines flowing, fights over never-enough stuffing, in-laws with their uninvited dog, outlaws with dietary problems, teenage drama, always a small child bawling. We could count on Mr. Host, well-marinated in Beaujolais, crowning the event by face-planting into his dessert, raising his head at moments to mumble non-sequiturs.

One time in the festive season a grown child delivered caustic remarks to a full house about the current (admittedly rather unwise) choice of my ... man-in-residence ... and in the heated escalation I had to threaten both with eviction, Christmas or not. Strained relations? Oh yes.

Another time my children ran away from home. Together. Maybe not exactly at Christmas. It was a protest against The House Rules. My shite cousin thought it was hilarious and enjoyed elaborating on it to his own ends every time we saw him thereafter (much less often than he expected). Naturally, none of that was reported in the carefully composed Christmas Letter.

Remember them? When we used to exchange those cheery photocopied letters tarted up with poinsettia stickers and family photos? We had to assume the distant relatives and friends ― the ones we never saw from one year to the next ― had a consuming interest in what our kids did at school or how many parties we had or whether husband's boss gave him a bonus. Hello moi: just as guilty as the rest of the '80s parents.

The Christmas Letter is what I used to call it before I humbugged Christmas. Now I call it The Annual Letter, in which I shamefully, unnecessarily apologize all over myself for forgetting not even doing it every year. At least the subject matter applies to the misbegotten title of my blog here. In a way.

Because my household, my family, now consists of moi seule ― no more adorable children starring in glorified accomplishments, bad behaviour completely omitted (be thankful, all quarters). No more lists of sparkling family activities, ignoring Murphy's Law normally prevailing at each.

Trust me, it's much more difficult to spread the exaggerated cheer from a solo life perspective. A solo senior life. Plus, potential recipients dwindle down to the luddite few who haven't been terminally bored at seeing one's pathetic life daily exposed on Facebook. Oh sorry, Google+ ~~ you too.

So. Serious concerns. Aside from appalling apathy at the prospect and a yawning black hole of inspiration, can I once again pull together a year or two's worth of embroidered incidents? Can I rekindle past bonding by relating the root canal that made me miss choir practice and forget about the concert? ... or how many times I forgot anything anyway without a semi- valid invented excuse? Can I elicit the old heartwarming kindred spirit with my latest strategies for thrift store shopping? ... or by describing my paranoid neighbour forever in pyjamas who shouts daily prayers to the Samhain goddess ... or a drug bust waiting to happen two blocks away? Never mind my letters to the editors of obscure but inflammatory e-zines that never get published. Who cares to hear the pain of learning Windows 10 ... or pondering which is the better choice ― a digital barcode tombstone (listen to me: you thought you got rid of me) and cremating oneself into diamonds (wear me: you'll never get rid of me).

Or should I just send a collage of Maxine cartoons?

Nope. It's for me alone to wage war on internet grammar atrocities, to worry about my nephews' addiction to bacon ice cream, to master selfies (and/or photobombing) at important historical civic moments. The good news ― not exactly good but you know what I mean ― is that possibly I have outlived all the potential recipients of such tripe.

Ahhhh ... The Christmas Letter. Is there a point anymore? Do people still do that? Is blogging the answer? Do people still do that too?

You guessed right. This could be It.

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