Saturday, December 23, 2006

Bittersweet Christmas

I've spent a good part of my adult life having minimal contact with my family, both immediate and extended. This is partially because of circumstances and partially out of choice. And since my father died, the family contact has dwindled to almost nil.

I keep in contact with an aunt through IM and perhaps two phone calls a year with my sister, and that's about it. I've not seen my brother or sister in over a decade. I've had no contact whatsoever with my brother in over two years, his choice, not mine, for reasons only known to him. I live near my father's extended family, but they cut off whatever sporadic contact they had with me immediately after his death. I've never been invited to share any sort of holiday gatherings with them since that time. They've never approved of how I live my life, and now that he's gone, they feel no need to continue any charade of a family relationship. That's ok, because I don't especially approve of their fundamentalist lifestyles any more than I approve of my libertine one.

So, for several years now, Christmas has been a quiet, largely uncelebrated day for me. Some years, as with last year, I'm able to spend it with a lover, but mostly my lovers are unavailable to me on that day, as they have families to spend it with and my presence at any of those celebrations would elicit too many unwanted and unwelcome questions. I usually make sure to find lovers to visit on the days approaching Christmas and directly after, which has worked out well for me. This year, my primary lover is spending Christmas up north with her parents, and no others will be available, so I'll be here with my son, who will no doubt spend most of the day asleep.

For most of the year, I am quite happy with remaining aloof from my family, but that all changes at Christmas time, when I miss my parents most, the warm family relationship I experienced as a child, and the Christmases we shared. The last such Christmas for me was Christmas 1970, when I was twelve years old. By the time Christmas 1971 came, my father, siblings, and I were still reeling from my mother's death earlier that year. For as long as my father lived, Christmas always had a somber tone to it, as Christmas was also his wedding anniversary. This was alleviated somewhat after his grandchildren arrived, but Christmas always remained an occasion for him to grieve anew.

If it were possible, I'd choose to go spend Christmas in 1970.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my readers.

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