I don’t send out Christmas cards anymore and if I’m being completely honest, I kinda sorta question why some people still do.
I’m not a Grinch. Hell no. I still partake in holiday cheer (ahhh, too much, some may say) but I guess I just feel that a lot of old traditions are rather redundant in today’s all-knowing-all-the-time existence.
I never planned to stop. It just sort of happened the year my mom passed away. Three months after she was gone I struggled to put up a Christmas tree, let alone send out a photo of my kids who weren’t looking much different than all the pictures I’d been throwing up on Facebook throughout the year. And of course anything good or eventful that went down in my life had already made it into a post, or text or blog. Really now, is anyone in need of a recap?
But I’ve always thought that if I did send out a Christmas letter it really wouldn’t be like everyone else’s. Here’s what I mean:
If I sent out a Christmas letter I’d say for sure, my year was just likes yours: full of happiness and thanks and blessings and joys and laughter and (hello, four perfect kids?) plenty of proud and boastful accomplishments. But then I’d feel compelled to add it was also a year filled with a whole bunch o’ family crap, a shitload of sadness, some bitter disappointments and (hello, four slightly imperfect kids?) too much embarrassment to mention.
I’d start by bragging about my oldest, my newly minted 21-year-old. He is my unchallenged sweetheart — mainly because he is hands down the most respectful of the tribe. To this day, he’d do anything I ask without so much as a sigh. I’d say how my heart swells with pride that he is a USAF Reservist and I am duly delighted that he’s going to school to become an EMT and paramedic. But then I’d have to admit that his lack of motivation to work at anything — ANY thing — full time makes my blood pressure surge. And worse, that when I see him playing video games for hours at a time I want to scream like a crazy person on a NYC street corner. Don’t even get me started on the beer cans in his room.
I’d then go on to gush about my daughter, who’s rocking her sophomore year at college and blossoming into a beautiful and engaging young woman right before my eyes. She’s really something else. I’m genuinely in awe of her compassion for the environment and her conviction to make it a better place. Though I’ll miss her like mad, I know one day soon her dreams and plans will take her away to some exotic place far, far away from me. Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit her staunch insistence that humanity is failing … troubles me greatly. Quite honestly, her woe is the world philosophy is a complete and total buzz kill at the dinner table and (sigh) an argument typically ensues when she really gets going. Truth be told, if I must nitpick, the toxic fumes festering in her room from the mess seem to be a blatant contradiction of the green earth she’s desperately seeking to save. (Apple cores: best placed in a compost heap rather than under that bra on the rug, no?)
I’d continue and blather on and on about my middle son, a high school sophomore, who is incredibly handsome and intelligent and easy going and popular and athletic and … and … so incredibly lazy I feel I should start researching boarding schools. Or wigs — since I’m dropping fistfuls of my own hair as I chase him around screaming about missing homeworks and vanishing assignments. I am convinced the sound of my voice is like a dog whistle to his immune ears and I fear he may fall out of bed one night and suffocate in the pile of wet towels next to his bed.
I’d then be forced to boast about his sidekick — my youngest — the king of the eighth grade and future president of the United States of America. Here is a fellow so incredibly beloved and kind and charming and funny … that his teachers and friends’ parents would be aghast at the shrill volume of his disrespectful back-talk to me. If he was heard by the masses on a particularly bad day he’d find himself one lonely little boy indeed — because parents wouldn’t let this Talented Mr. Ripley within earshot of their own children. If they only knew…
I’d tell about our loss this year of our infamous Grandpa Eggo, my stepdad, and only remaining grandparent on my side of the family tree. Just shy of his 92 birthday, he was one hell of a hot ticket – and — a bonus — had Carl Fredericksen from the movie UP as his celebrity doppelganger. Looked JUST like him and THAT was hilarious. We got a lot of laughs out of his couple of years without my mom as a buffer but man, I’d have to admit that the old guy drove us batshit crazy much of the time. What’s worse: his death leaves a distinct hole in the lives of my siblings, for we are now forced to reconcile our simmering differences without a neutral zone of connection. Being a grown-up becomes acutely harder when you’re left to deal with the messy family stuff without parental referees.
I’d close my Christmas letter with the unthinkable confession that some of my happiest moments are the rare occasions when I pull into my driveway after work and the house is completely – silently – empty. For a short time until the chaos begins again, I am blissful.
But then, then … as my final admission, I’d confess there are unexpected moments that catch me off guard … when the house is quiet and — to the contrary — I am consumed by a wordless panic. My thoughts drift to a time soon to come when I’ll finally be without the video games and the wet towels and the beer cans and the fighting and the back-talk.
And my dread is paralyzing.
Funny how life knows when to give you a swift kick in the ass when you need it.
In those minutes of solitude and fear I somehow understand my personal charade. Perhaps I bitch and squawk so much … only to mask how crazy I may become without them?
And that’s the truth.
So anywho, even though I don’t send out Christmas letters … or Christmas photos (please. No-shave November is killing any chance of that; who wants multiple Wolverines in their family photo?) I do always reflect on my passing year, only in a warts-and-all kind of way.
Wouldn’t it be great if more people did the same?
Merry Christmas, dear friends and readers!
Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. –