Being Alone at Christmas

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Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 7.50.40 PMBeen there, done that – last year in fact. My mother and I had spent the past 5 years dealing with my father and his Alzheimer’s Disease, and the disasters that go along with it. We lost him on Oct 18. By Dec 12, it was obvious I was to exhausted to care for my 84-year-old mother, who was literally mourning herself to death. My sister packed her up and moved her to Memphis for awhile.

I was exhausted. It wasn’t necessarily the loss of my father as much as it was the fact that by Dec 21, I realized that no one in my family had even bothered with me. I’d not put up a tree. I was completely ignored by all but 1 friend. Any support system I should have had, even in my parish, did not exist. There were no cards, no friends dropping by with even a drop dead poinsettia. No invitations, no nothing. I was totally and completely alone. I’ve never been alone on Christmas Day before last Christmas. It was horrible. My mother finally roused herself enough to ask one of my nieces to send me a bottle of my favorite perfume, 4711 (not exactly an expensive gift) and a box of Godiva truffles. My sister sent me an Apple TV system for my birthday, a few weeks earlier – so I could set it up for our mother.

I was miserable. I cried, then sleep the entire day. A friend finally remembered to invite me to lunch, but I paid for my own. Other than one of the best friends a person could have, I was a non-person.

I’m going to be alone this Christmas. I did not put up a tree. Why bother?  This year my sister gave me an Amazon gift card, so I bought a bunch of small ‘geek stuff’, I can wrap and put in a stocking – for myself. There’s very little money for much of anything.

The best way to be a friend is to leave your friend alone, unless they want you around them. Make sure you ask. You might also want to drop off a little something on their doorstep. If they are alone, and grieving, there is nothing worse than waking up on Christmas morning and realizing that not one single person in the whole world gives a damn if you are dead or alive. For years I was the ‘go-too’ person for our parish. If someone was alone at Christmas, I made sure they knew they were not forgotten. My parents were like that. You don’t do good deeds for a return on investments, but those who say good karma begets good karma are delusional.

At least I know what I face this year: Zilch Nada Nothing

No, I’m not feeling sorry for myself. I don’t want someone insisting I be a part of their family Christmas, then get there, and watch everyone gathering around their tree, opening things from their family. When we had people over at Christmas, who were alone that year, my mother and I always made sure they had numerous gifts. I don’t expect anything like that.

Like I said, if you are alone and grieving at Christmas, just be sure to understand that people really don’t give a damn. They will kick you when you are down, and laugh as you fall on your rear and slide in the ice. And – those are the people who attend your church.

I’m not selfish, just terribly cynical. Just be there. Give them a tacky cheap gift bag with a package of tacky cookies and a stale fruit cake. For your friend, alone and grieving, it will probably be more than they’ll get under their tree, which they won’t bother decorating.

This year, on Christmas, my sister’s wonderful gift of a new smart TV arrived last week.  That was my only gift.  I had one thing to unwrap on Christmas Day, and that came from my neighbor, was infinitely sensible and gave me something I truly needed – a Sonic gift card (I have this little addiction to Sonic ice).  The cookies my sister sent from her bakery haven’t arrived.

There are no cookies, no goodies, and not even a lousy fruitcake. Money is in such short supply, my Christmas dinner will consist of frozen rolls I’m making and mashed potatoes.  I can’t afford anything else.  I’ve not had a piece of beef in a year.  The last steak I had was a year ago, today.  There’s nothing special for me.  I don’t want pity gifts.  Opening your Christmas, when you are alone, is no fun.  It’s just not worth it.  I can’t spend anything.  I have exactly $100 to spare for the month of January for such luxuries as food, gas, and pet food.  I’ll end up putting everything in pet food and litter.  What truly hurt is the fact that I can’t even afford to mail the gifts I’ve made for my family.

I could care less about New Year’s Eve.  Do I sound bitter and cynical?  I guess I do, because I am.  On the other hand, I fully understand why God was so pissed with Job’s friends.  They weren’t friends at all, just jerks who showed up to treat him like dirt.  I have some wonderful friends, but there are those who are jerks, who pretend to care, just to make themselves look good.  Life is too short to deal with people like that.

Don’t get me wrong, I have an amazing amount to be thankful for, and I am.  I guess I just expected better out of people.  Silly me.  At least, today, I had James Bond.

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