Let’s talk a little bit about the holidays

The Christmas season, in general, makes me anxious and uncomfortable. The reasons for this don’t matter. Just accept the statement. I spent Thanksgiving alone this year, though I know I could have gone to my in-laws. This year has been a year of firsts, first everything without my father. And spending most of my holidays home alone has been part of my grieving process. A great big letting go of all the expectations and obligations.

It’s the first weekend in December. The Teenager has asked to give up the Christian trappings and embrace our pagan side. So, we intend to celebrate Yule. She wants a small tree covered with pine cones and other items of nature. I’d like to make a dinner that includes rabbit or venison.

Yesterday, we ended up in Bethlehem– The Christmas City– and stopped to see The Teenager’s grandparents (in part because The Teenager added the grandparents to our phone plan since a certain phone service that focuses on seniors has sent phones Grammy cannot use and that don’t dial 9-1-1 when her husband is having diabetic seizures in a stranger’s driveway. Good job, Consumer Cellular.) Grammy is learning how to use her iPhone 13 and even FaceTimed her sister who lives six hours away. Even if the FaceTime was an accident.

I got to see Grammy’s tree and train, and eat the last slice of Grammy’s shoofly pie. While Grammy comes from Pennsylvania Dutch stock, she struggles to make a wet bottom shoofly pie. So she’s been working on it. And we brought the dog, so the dog got to see Grammy and Poppop and the squirrels in their backyard.

Then the teenager and I spent some time doing chores and resting before embarking on the one totally ridiculous thing that is our holiday tradition: watching Denis Leary in The Ref. And this year we watched it sipping chocolate laced wine, eating dusty road sundaes without the chocolate syrup and waxing our legs.

Every day I see more and more ways The Teenager has absorbed the values of my estranged husband and I, and the things that make us uniquely us are important to her. And that makes me happy.

And it’s not easy to be happy these days, under the weight of grief and the stress of disability.

Half way through the movie, The Teenager wanted potato chips. So she called her dad. He happened to be in the middle of Target. He brought us two bags of Doritos, one original red for The Teen and one Cool Ranch blue for me.

Because we’re all still family.

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