Sunday, December 30, 2012

Less Miserable

Well, my address has officially been recorded in the annals of street coordinates as “Over the River and Through the Woods.”  I’m not sure just when that transition took place.  I suppose it occurred when I ascended the mountain to become “The Matriarch,” the Family Apex Swami.

Being Matriarch has its privileges.  Everyone seems anxious to help me cross the street.  But sometimes I don’t want to cross the street.  Sometimes I don’t even want to be out on the roads.  Visions of roadkill dance in my head. Nevertheless, as a courtesy to charitable people, sometimes I cross the street.  It’s lonely at the top.

Christmas was a triumph this year.  Wrapping blanketed the carpet like an inversion – a sort of post-Santa scorched earth.  In keeping with our policy of NO TRADITION LEFT BEHIND,  we succeeded in observing every teeny weeny custom since Dickens invented Scrooge, though there were times we looked less like Norman Rockwell and more like a Farley Family Christmas.  (I’ll post provocative pictures of Dave and Sam in their Christmas jammies.  I promise you’ll laugh till you moisten your tutu. In fact, I challenged Dave to wear his jammy-sweats to the clinic, but, surprisingly, he demurred, citing the fact that many of his patients already have weak hearts.)

For me, Christmas is a bi-polar holiday – manic-depressive/schizophrenic – “Merry Christmas”/”Bah, humbug.”  I’m sure it’s the season of my life as much as the season of the year.

I vacillate between a brain strangled with obligations of revelry, and the vacuous stupefaction of a glaciated mind.

I erratically indulge in the contagion of binge hall-decking, followed by the caloric terrorism of a remorseless, unrestrained Peeps and Twinkies rampage.  And then, bathrobed in a hunched bundle, I become defibrillator-dependent, relying on accommodating over-the-counter products to restore regular bowel function.  (I am in that sublime time of life when “comfort and joy” are a direct consequence of Preparation H and laxatives.)

Growing into widowhood is a mammoth task, a circumstance thrust upon me without prior consent or pre-nup.  It is a tangled and unchartered frontier that can snuff out all your Fa la la la las, and make you go all commando, channel your inner Gilgamesh, yank all your chestnuts off an open fire and retreat to a yurt in outer Mongolia.

The holidays are all snugly nestled between protracted idiocy and prolonged insanity, as if for a space of time, I’m plunged into the vortex of some surreal Middle Earth, and I become a constituent with fellow residents like Bilbo Baggins and a cadre of unusual suspects.  Bags ring my eyes like black funereal wreaths from too little sleep and too much Red Bull, and welts as big as anvils threaten to drag my eyelids down to my neck wattles. Not even mortician’s putty can conceal the damage.  Sigh.

But it is a nostalgic time, a time for sweet recollection and contemplation. However, nostalgia is age appropriate.  I go way back.  I remember John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John before they were arthritic, surgically re-invented, or indicted for deviant behavior.

Of course, I begin each Yuletide Celebration with the loftiest ambition. I even consider preparing sugar plums as  a prelude to my homage to Currier and Ives.  And every year I go malignantly off-course.  Really.  It never changes. 

Recently I read what I’d written some years back, and realized the same thing occurs every twelve months, like a distorted video loop of “Ground Hog Day.” The annual ritualistic descent into debauchery has now become orthodox tradition.  Thus, I chronicle the yearly holiday downward spiral from rationality to debacle, and freely acknowledge I am a casualty of vanity and a weak mind.

This is how the days leading up to Christmas really come down.  Shield the eyes of the innocent.  This is graphic.
1.   Eat.  Pray.  Love.
2.  Eat.  Pray.  Clean.
3.  Eat.  Clean.  Shop.
4.  Shop.  Rush.  Decorate.  Clean again.
5.    Eat.  Eat.  Eat.
6.  Eat.  Decorate more to keep up with the neighbors.  Cry.  Curse.
7.  Buy.  Wrap.  Buy more to surpass the neighbors.  Collapse.
8.  Overspend.  Break budget on annual gift blizzard.  Go to debt counseling.
9.  Buy yet more.  Take out loan.  Attend weekly sessions of Over-spenders Anonymous.
10. Eat.  Weigh.  Cry.
11. Weigh.  Diet.  Curse.  Binge.  Splurge.  Purge.
12. Look in the mirror.  Become clinically depressed.  Call plastic surgeon.
13. Destroy all of Bing Crosby’s CD’s for the crime of auditory overload.  Blast TV with oozie after 10th re-run of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” while planting poison ivy in the underwear of every resident in Whoville, forcing them to yield to the moral superiority of brute force.  Make random threats to no one in particular while muttering incoherently.

14. Neuter Rudolph and single-handedly commit gender re-assignment on Santa’s entire team of reindeer.  Resist urge to waterboard all the residents of the North Pole.  (Commonly known as blurring ethical lines for a higher cause.)

15.  Curse the names of Norman Rockwell and Irving Berlin.  Start a rumor that every chestnut on every open fire and every sugar plum that dances in every head is contaminated with H1N1.  Begin singing duets with Brian David Mitchell.

16.  Break the drum of every little drummer boy on the planet.  Maniacally proclaim myself the greatest astrophysicist ever.  Run naked down the street bellowing, “Santa is a fleshy fraud, and we’re all going to die!”

17.  Eat.  Cry.  Apologize to Santa and plead for more Zoloft.
18.  Swear.  Swear.  Swear – while eating.
19. Deck more halls.  Deck fellow shoppers.  Go home with migraine.
20. Seek forgiveness.  Join 12-step program for harsh language addiction.  Enter rehab for the criminally profane.

Christmas can be ennobling, and next year I resolve to be more ennobled and “Less Miserable.”

 Our Family thought it would be a wonderful conclusion to a wonderful Christmas day by going to see “Les Miz.”  After the movie, Carter made the rather keen observation that whoever sang, died.  He’s so astute.  There did seem to be a pattern. So we have since made a collective tribal decision to salute one another with a vociferous “Opa!” and suspend launching into a lusty rendition of “Bring Him Home” until we get an Accuscan and a clean bill of health from our doctors.

Happy New Year.

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