Friday, January 1, 2010

Good Enough Holidays

Trying to remember back to last year's Christmas preparations and actual event, I find I can't really recall what we did, how I felt, what it was really like. So while this year is fresh, I thought I would try to capture the traditions we kept and abandoned, the spirit of the holidays, and my emotional state.

The run up to the holidays, the anticipation of the event, wasn't bad. I decorated, albeit somewhat half-heartedly. I got down the "tier 1" Christmas boxes and pulled out most items. I hung the front door wreath, put up red velveteen bows on the courtyard pillars, placed the carolers and stockings on the hearth. I put up Christmas lights on the courtyard arbor, got a small tree and put it on a low table, baked a few batches of Christmas cookies, and hopefully started a new tradition of taking B to see The Nutcracker.

I didn't decorate the back patio the way we (T) always did in the past, with velveteen bows on the pillars, small Christmas lights on the pool fence, and a big poinsettia on the table. Nor did I get poinsettias to line the front walkway, or hang Christmas lights along the roof edge. These were things that T always did, a bit more elaborate than I would do if left to my own devices. And now that I am, I didn't. I missed the feeling of having someone else put thought and care into the atmosphere and ambiance of our home.

I have all the tree decorations from my family and T's family, along with a goodly number of ornaments T and I (mostly T) picked up in the years we were together. The tree I got this year was small enough that our ornaments were sufficient, along with a few of my childhood favorites: the colored icicles, the decorated eggs. There may have been some favorites I didn't pull out, but I just didn't feel strongly enough to search for them. The tree was slightly crooked, and I didn't care enough to reset it straight. "Good enough" was my mantra.

Some time in December we always threw a Christmas dinner and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"-watching event for our good friends, three families we called "the usual suspects". (We served Roast Beast, of course.) Last year, the first year without T, one of the families volunteered to manage the food if I was willing to host. It was an ideal arrangement, and last year's party would have been fine except B had an infected toe that landed us in Urgent Care for a couple of hours that evening.

This year I never got around to organizing the event. No one mentioned it, or volunteered to co-host with me, and I felt sort of hurt by that. It was a big deal for T, and having no one say anything about it made me fear that they didn't get as much out of the event as T (and I) did. But it's equally possible (probably more so) that they didn't want to make me feel bad for not throwing the party, or make me feel obligated to. In any case, B and I watched The Grinch one time, Rudolph a couple times, and we never did see Charlie Brown's Christmas. Nor did we get together with two of the three families during the holidays. I miss them, and the community we had, but it's just different without T. He was the magnet that pulled us all together. I can't do it without him, and no one else seems to care the same way T did about this particular constellation of friendships.

On New Year's Eve, one family of the usual suspects invited me to a dinner party. (The other usual suspects weren't included -- it was a different circle of friends.) New Year's Eve was never a big deal for T and me, so I would have been content (though sad) to spend it alone. But it was nice to have somewhere to go, to get a little dressed up and drink champagne. One of the other guests was someone I hadn't met before, so it was pleasant to get to know someone new.

Today, New Year's Day, was spent attempting to get the house back in some sort of order, and hanging out with B. I had a thought of going to the beach, or to T's niche at the cemetery, or even to scatter the last portion of T's ashes somewhere meaningful, but it all seemed like just a little too much trouble. The house is still in a pretty chaotic state, so I'm not sure if the symbolism of leaving the house for some beautiful natural destination wouldn't have been more fulfilling, but oh well.

So I would characterize my state of mind for this holiday season as half-hearted. I wanted to make it fun for B, but otherwise I preferred to fly a bit under the radar and get by with a minimum amount of effort and fuss. I liberally applied the 80/20 rule: you get 80% of the benefit from 20% of the effort. I missed T, but not piercingly so. I didn't like being alone, but it wasn't terrible. I think B had a good experience, with plenty of "tradition", so I feel good about the balance I struck.

I am working on a few New Year's resolutions, and I'm looking forward to what 2010 will bring. More on both these topics in a future post. Happy New Year!

No comments:

Post a Comment