December 19, 2001
Pushing The Christmas Button

There are one or two evenings per month when I probably shouldn't be allowed anywhere near:

  • Heavy machinery.
  • Firearms.
  • Small neighborhood children selling chocolate bars, door-to-door.
  • My e-mail.

Last night, unfortunately, was one of those nights. I got home from work late, tired, hungry, stretched-thin emotionally and loaded for hormonal bear. Although I managed to successfully avoid most of the *danger items* on the list (David locked the tractor and the shotguns up in the barn, along with the chocolate bars), I couldn't seem to stop myself from taking a quick run through my e-mail before dinner.

Worse: I attempted to answer some of it.

Disaster immediately ensued. The next thing I knew, a perfectly nice new reader was calling me "snarly" and wishing aloud that she'd never bothered to write to me in the first place. I wound up sitting in front of an unplugged computer, weeping into my lukewarm Celestial Seasonings ... wondering how things had gone so hideously awry. 

She was right, of course. My response was snarly. I broke my own cardinal rule for handling potentially upsetting e-mail: I answered her right there on the spot, instead of walking away and waiting until I'd had a chance to think and cool off and formulate a courteous response. (Read this: until the Extra-Coma-Inducing-Strength Midol had a chance to kick in.) Hers was the first e-mail out of the chute last night ... she caught me with my defenses (and my blood sugar) down around my ankles ... AND she managed to push the one button most likely to provoke a strong emotional reaction from me right now:

The Christmas Button.

Usually it's the Why Don't You Ever Write About Your Other Daughter? Button that gets to me.  Or the Unless You Go To A.A., You're Not Really In Recovery Button.  Or the If I Were As Fudked-Up As You Are, Lady, I Wouldn't Be Bragging About It On The Internet Button.  But right now it's the Where Is Your Christmas Spirit? Button.

The thing is  --  and I may be about to make things a whole big bunch worse, here, but once again I can't seem to stop myself: I'm like a coiled Slinky, poised at the top of a staircase, all downward momentum  -- there is something you should probably know about me. I don't just play a big crabby sensitive self-absorbed baby on the Internet.

I actually AM a big crabby sensitive self-absorbed baby.

My big crabby sensitive self-absorbed babiness is just slightly more pronounced at the moment than usual, thanks to a toxic combination of holidays and hormones. What can I tell you? I'm tired. I'm blue. I'm blotchy. I'm worried about the world. I'm lonely for the Tots. I miss my family. I miss TicTac. I don't miss the mess and the stress and the fuss of Christmas, maybe, but I do miss the way Christmas used to feel, sometimes. (Sitting in front of a twinkling Christmas tree in the middle of the night when the rest of the world is asleep, for instance: I miss that.)  I know that the hormonal yuck will be over in another few hours -- and the holiday yuck, in another few days -- but it's the living through it without falling to pieces that's going to be the trick. For the first few days of the holiday season, this year, I sat around waiting for a molecule or two of holiday spirit to spontaneously invade my heart and make the world all warm and fuzzy and Christmas colors ... the way it did when I was a little kid, bookmarking dollhouses in the Sears Wish Book. When I realized that this probably wasn't going to happen -- and I realized it pretty much right away, as soon as we decided that a holiday trip to TicTac was out of the question this year -- I chose to throw all of my holiday attention and energies into making Christmas happy for other people. I think I was hoping that by focusing on other people, I would somehow be *rewarded* for my vast reserves of selflessness and grooviness and stuff with a glimmer of the old holiday magic.

When that didn't happen, either, I decided to just give up.

I don't mean that I'm giving up on trying to make this a meaningful holiday season for the people around me. I'm deriving enormous personal/karmic satisfaction from my efforts there, especially the stuff that never even makes it to *FootNotes.* I just mean that I'm going to quit waiting for an emotional miracle that may or may not happen. If it does happen -- if I experience a sudden unexpected *It's A Wonderful Life* moment, somewhere between now and next Tuesday -- that would be lovely, and I would welcome it, and I would enjoy it thoroughly. But if it doesn't happen ... well ... there's always next year.

How do I know?

Because I don't just play an eternal optimist on the Internet ...

tell 'em secra sent you

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