Time Traveling

daisyfae at 7:  [bouncing up and down beside my sister’s bed] “C’mon!  Get up!  GET UP!  He’s been here!  It’s CHRISTMAS!”  i remember when i still believed in Santa Claus.  My friends were skeptics, but i wanted him to be real, so i resisted.  i didn’t give it up until my older brother spilled the beans a year later – leading my two older sisters to bark at him for being such an asshole. 

At seven, i remember getting a “Chatty Cathy” talking doll from Santa.  It scared the living shit out of me.  “i don’t want it!  There’s a SCARECROW inside it!”  Mom orchestrated the ritual overindulgence – only stockings could be opened on Christmas morning, and we could investigate the “Santa Gifts”, unwrapped presents for each of us under the tree. 

She wanted Christmas to last, so we had to have nutritious breakfast first – often a treat of Strawberry PopTarts.  One of us would be an elf, and presents were distributed in piles to each of us in the cramped living room.  As Maestro, she then instructed us on which gifts to open – one at a time, waiting so that we could see others open their gifts.  Directed chaos.  i was happy.
daisyfae at 16:  [slogging down the hallway, looking for coffee] My older sister and brother were already married with babies.  These marriages were already showing signs of implosion, but it was cool to have little kids around for the holidays.  Mom’s orchestrated ritual continued, but didn’t start before sunrise – my older siblings showed up later in the day, sugar-buzzed and over-stimulated children in tow.  Stockings?  Treats and plastic toys were replaced by deodorant and lip balm, but they were still overflowing. 

It was during the teen years that i finally let my sister, T,  know i’d figured out that “lesbian” thing, and that my best friend, JW, was gay too.  The gift i left for her under the tree was a pile of 35mm film*.  But the day before, i’d given her a couple of books – “Rubyfruit Jungle” by Rita Mae Brown and “The Front Runner” by Patricia Nell Warren. Good teen gay-lit, given to me by my friend JW.  It was a turning point for us as sisters.
daisyfae at 21:[waking up in a strange bed, alone] It was my first Christmas away from home.  i’d been living with EJ for a couple years, and agreed to make the “parent trek” to Florida.  My first dinner with his family was memorable.  It was so quiet i could hear myself chewing!  A sound i’d never heard before at a family dinners because my clan yelled, threw dinner rolls and argued everything from music to philosophy over meals.  His parents were very sweet. 

Their house was perfect, uncluttered and understated.  i found myself missing the chaotic Christmas mornings of my childhood.  Just a little bit… Returning to the homestead for a Christmas visit the next week, i was comforted when i dumped out my Christmas stocking to find travel-sized toothpaste, shampoos and deodorant, along with candy and a smattering of cheap plastic crap.
daisyfae at 30:  [dragging ass outta bed as my young children tumble excitedly down the stairs, after i’d been up until 2am assembling kid toys]  We kept some of the same rules – no presents opened until we were all there, but stockings and “Santa Gifts” were fair game.  Breakfast of cookies and milk was perfectly acceptable.   i was in my “Super Working Mom” phase, and generally exhausted myself the weeks before Christmas with shopping, baking, decorating and wrapping – but i truly enjoyed it! 

The downside was always the travel.  My husband and i agreed – “As long as we have parents to visit, we will travel on Christmas.”  And so we did.  Never mind the fact that we never went ANYWHERE when we were young, our parents expected to see us for the holidays. 

Every other year we went wherever his folks were – usually Florida.  Palm trees with twinkie lights, Santa wearing shorts.  Waking up in strange beds on Christmas morning – for us and our children.  Typically driving 16 hours, we’d always have to anticipate weather challenges – dodging ice storms in the mountains of Tennessee. 

Alternate years?  Home for Christmas morning, but on the road to The Trailer Park by noon for the family visit.  Mom had taken the “directed chaos” to an entirely new level – attempting to pull off the same “one-at-a-time” gift opening ritual with a crowd now numbering close to 20, and in a living room more cluttered (and far less organized) than the interior of the International Space Station.  We returned home reeking of cigarette smoke, hauling trash bags of mostly “off target” gifts and generally very crabby.
daisyfae at 47: [bouncing up and down beside my children’s beds] “C’mon!  Get up!  GET UP!  He’s been here!  It’s CHRISTMAS!” Not an over-abundance of gifts, but they are thoughtful.  Sometimes disgusting, but thoughtful.  Santa still shows up, reliably delivering ‘scratch off’ lottery tickets in the stockings.  We just hang out.  We eat junk food, watch movies, drink and nap.  Friends drop in to eat junk food, watch movies, drink and nap.  “Dog Wrasslin’” is the sport du jour.  i am happy.
It’s just another day, but it’s an annual pinning point.  Tripping us backwards through the joyful, the broken and empty.  The sweet and the bittersweet. 

The New Year has us looking forward…. but Christmas makes us time travelers.

* i worked at Photo Bug and used my employee discount to buy gifts for all of my friends with cameras.  Like a FotoMat, it was a drive-up photo-processing facility.  We shipped film out and promised “next-day” service.  It causes me great pain, but i have been COMPLETELY unable to find photographic evidence of a Photo Buggery.  A 15’ x 15’ box with windows in a parking lot, and a 5’ tall smiling bee on the roof, spinning merrily while holding a camera.  Surely someone, somewhere, has a picture?!?

19 thoughts on “Time Traveling

  1. Yes, time traveling is a great way to put it. Holidays always do that to me too. It’s a whole different ballgame now that the kids are grown. And I get to be wherever I want to be, but mostly the kids (the ones I don’t already live with) come to me.

    The best thing about the holidays isn’t the gifts. It’s the people I love. Unless one brings a shiny new Lexus. Then, I might rethink what the best thing about the holidays is . . .

  2. You have a great memory. I don’t think I could recall a single Christmas past like that.

    Have a Merry Christmas this year! You and all yours, of course!

  3. daisyfae what a wonderful post – as good as the one where you wrote a letter to your younger self….

    oh the excitement of xmas as a child. my mother used to make a lot of my presents, knitted dolls clothes and the like, my father once made me a doll’s house. I wish I still had it.

    One year when I was about 10 my mother went out shopping and I used the time to find all my presents – that was such a disappointing xmas – I would never to do such a thing again, the fun is in the surprise.

    The xmas I was 19 I had a 3 week old baby and was staying temporarily in a room painted with black walls……

    The xmas my youngest son was 5 he woke up with chicken pox

    All the xmases I was married I had to traipse out to my sister in law’s and watch my ex-husband get drunk while the kids and I twiddled our thumbs with boredom. Thankfully those days are long gone

    My best Christmas was the last one Stephen was alive. He was still quite well at the time and we spent the day in bed fucking and watching Kill Bill

    Today? I’m with my boys and we’re eating turkey and plum pudding and watching Flight of the Conchords. How good is that?

  4. DF – It has been way too long since I’ve read your posts. It’s sorta like going on the wagon for a while and then after the first drink a moment of pause occurs as bliss imbues my world and I think, now why in the hell did I abstain from this ?? Oh we dreaded humans !

    Happy Christmas & a Merry New Year ….. Cheers

  5. fragrant liar – the ‘hanging out’ with good people is all i want. oh, that and cookies for breakfast…

    savannah – so far, so good! one bottle of single malt is his-to-reeeee…. (ow)

    rob – thanks! i remember lots more. even some of the early stuff. some things i’d rather forget. maybe it’s because mom made a big deal out of christmas when we were kids…

    nursemyra – thanks for sharing your memories! your last christmas with stephen sounds about perfect to me… throw in some cookies? oh, yeah!

    stephanie – oh, i’ve got the stockings, too. and i’ve also got a lead on a hung irishman 😉

    syncopated eyeball – thanks! enjoy the sunshine – it’s cold and rainy here!

    DP – thank you. for the wishes, kind sir, NOT the yoghurt!

    renal failure – we used to refer to the place as “The Buggery”. still am seeking photos, but no luck… makes me sad. i may go on a quest to find one of the 5′ tall shutter-bees…

    kono – enjoy it! the magic of christmas with the little critters is sheer joy!

    steve – glad you stopped by! merry christmas to you as well!

  6. this brings back memories of my christmases past. may blatantly ‘borrow’ this theme and write my own post.

    but a merry christmas to you. i’ve got a treat or three for your stocking…

  7. Pingback: Holidays Sans Family « The Wilds of Ohio

  8. Merry Christmas Daisy…watch out for the stocking stuffers..
    Enjoy your day of recovery. nonalcoholic eggnog and chocolatey chip cookies for you.

  9. gnu – glad you ‘borrowed’. i liked your family stories… it is sad that it’s just not feasible to have those huge family gatherings these days…

    hisqueen – after a rather festive christmas eve, i managed to get through all of christmas day without a drop to drink. felt just fine, but needed to give my liver a christmas present of its own!

    upsetwaitress – i should start putting a ‘readers digest’ version up for your benefit! this one would have been “i’m old, but still have a decent memory”… thanks for hangin’ with it!

    mongolian girl – thank you! despite all of the strangeness of my clan, i had a surprisingly happy childhood… i didn’t know it was weird until i got older!

    archie – and all the best to you as well, Mr. Archive!

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