Easing into the Christmas spirit now.
I've always had some kind of aversion to the whole thing. At least it's how I've been since adulthood. While in my early 20s, my friend Chris and I would make the rounds on Thanksgiving, visiting various family tables, eating and chatting, but always ending up in a movie theater later on in the evening, pouring Wild Turkey or Southern Comfort into our expensive soft drinks and dealing separately with our own issues, whatever they were.
'Tis the season for wondering why I never feel at ease in a crowd, even a crowd of loving family members. I smile politely and hope that I don't say something embarrassing or reveal that I don't belong. Angst at any age is both silly and all-consuming. I miss those who are no longer with us, especially at this time of the year. Ron wrote today about something that really resonated with me. My grandmother, who I didn't realize wasn't flawless until recent years, embodied the season for me. Her boiled custard (made specifically for me, I'm sure) was simply the best. After she passed, I would begrudgingly buy store bought boiled custard and shake my head at how far removed from her recipe's wonderfulness it was. Now I drink it and it tastes pretty good. Time has done its thing and I cannot recall the taste of the preferred recipe. Its superiority is diminished in my mind and that only adds to my seasonal melancholy.
With Christmas approaching, I am more aware than any other time of the year that I can't afford gifts for those I love. I only wish I was seven again and all I had to do was come downstairs to a room full of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and get to unwrapping gifts. I'm the dad now and it's up to me to mask my weird, unsettled feelings and memories and see the holiday through my kids' eyes.
I'm easing into the right spirit. Baby steps. Frank Sinatra's The Sinatra Christmas Album plays. It's simple, a bit sad but hopeful, and perfect for this late evening of reflection. We're out of boiled custard. I'll be sure to buy some more tomorrow.