This Christmas is going to suck.
That's what I've been thinking for months now. Thursday morning, I will be taking the bus to DC to visit my mom for the holiday. I don't want to go. I don't really want to do Christmas this year. Last Christmas was the end of it being a fun holiday for me.
Really, my fun Christmases ended when I was 16. That was the last one I had with daddy before he had his stroke. That was the last one that he enjoyed just as much as I did. For my 17th Christmas to my 22nd, he was pretty blah about the whole thing. But I had my whole month off of school to hang out, so I still got happy about it.
For my 23rd and all Christmases thereafter, I made up a routine:
Come home, sit and talk with daddy, go over the Christmas meal (yes, go over it. He had specific instructions - all food must be bland and relatively tasteless-while-being-tasty, just like the Christmas meals grandma used to make), supermarket list, chores, etc.
Go down to the mall and shop for last minute gifts. Go to market, buy turkey, etc.
Shuttle to mom's house. Have a great time with her while trying to relate to stepdad (a skill in which we both have improved tremendously). Bake stuff and make Christmas eve dinner.
Shuttle back to daddy's on Christmas day. Cook meal. Snap radio on to WPGC and listen to Donnie Hathaway sing Christmas songs while up to my elbows in homemade bread stuffing mix. While turkey cooks, go in to daddy's room, read the Post, and ask daddy all manner of questions like I did when I was little, all of which he'd answer lovingly. He liked it when I acted like a kid. Sometimes, I would do it on purpose. A couple of hours later, daddy and I would sit down to the meal. The worst parts of the holiday came in here: having to get daddy in his wheelchair and roll him out to the dining room, even though he could have walked it with his cane, and then having to serve him a plate and cut his meat for him. I never got used to those things. Of course, I would gladly do those things today.
Shuttle to mom's house for a few days. Hit Nieman-Marcus Last Call sale and get our hair did by Dusan, the hottest hairdresser on the planet (and straight!). Watch DVDs.
Back to daddy's.
Walk down to mall and sip a coffee while watching the ice-skaters in the courtyard.
Hit the after-Christmas sales with no one to tell me not to spend my money and not to buy this or that. Get daddy fast food for dinner (he loved his fast food so much).
See friends, but only if I absolutely had to. I much preferred to sit and read the Post with daddy and ask 50 gajillion questions, all of which were answered with a big smile.
Take a day to walk around DC and play tourist-in-my-own-hometown. One of the many things I loved about daddy is that he encouraged me to go out and do my own thing, and not to worry about him so much. Even on his death bed, I believe that he, if he had had the voice, would have said "Don't worry about me, Maria. I'll be OK."
This Christmas, I don't exactly know what I'm going to do, besides sit and have dinner with mom and stepdad, and visit daddy at the cemetery. Sounds like we are going to have a nice meal - tamales and all that Guatemalan food I really love. Mom is going to great lengths to make sure I enjoy this holiday. She knows it's important. And I love her so much for it.
One of the crappy things about death is that you can't curl up into a ball and ignore the world. You don't get to be selfish, if you have family or anyone that depends on you to keep a brave face. I don't know what this holiday is going to bring. I'm keeping my expectations low yet hoping for the best. Hell, hoping to just make it without crying.
Wish me luck.