I am a total Scroogey McHoliday Hater. In the last few years, I’ve accepted that this darkness lies within my soul. Christmas? Do we have to? Thanksgiving? I’d rather have drumsticks nailed through my eyelids. Easter? Could we roll that rock back in front of the cave, if it means I don’t have to hide plastic eggs 2,000 years later?
Yup, I’m a serious holiday wet blanket. I put the “hate” in LaborHate Day.
Here’s my two-pronged beef (is that like a Texas Longhorn?) with holidays:
1) I find ritual and tradition somewhat taxing. As part of my Myers-Briggsian ENFPedness, I don’t want things to always be the same. I don’t want to know that in seven months I will be compelled to string colorful lights and hang ornaments. Nor do I like the foreknowledge that, even ten years from now, people will be setting off fireworks on the 4th of July, and for the two freaking weeks before and after it. I just don’t want the same thing to happen at the same time each day or year. Surprise me. If it’s the last Thursday in November, could I please just go to a movie?
Fortunately, Groom is in step with this thinking. He was totally up for us leaving the country and heading, with great speed, towards Canada last 4th of July. We unpatriotic sods spent our nation’s Independence Day in the Thunder Bay mall, letting Girl get her ears pierced. Now *that*, as I watched her brave face determined not to let tears fall, felt like something…neither more or less than fireworks, but something that would happen only that once in that one place.
And last Christmas, some of you might remember that we beat a hasty exit from the bulk of the plodding celebrations by heading for the borders of Guatemala and visting my sister. I loved riding the train around the outside of the Houston airport on Christmas day, during our layover. I loved my kids not caring where they were or what they were doing on that randomly-assigned holiday. We’ll never ride that train on Christmas again, so it was awesome.
For sure, if there is a holiday looming, I pretty much just want to pack some bags and practice my line-dancing Sidestep. I avoid lots of small talk that way, too. If I jump country, I never have to assure Loony Aunt Bev, while she puts marshmallows on top of the yams, “Oh, my, yes, but your new wig looks absolutely realistic. And I love those French tips, too” when, in fact, her hair looks like a pile of Michael Chiklis’ laundry and her nails like can openers.
2) My other gripe about holidays is the well-ballyhooed over-marketing that surrounds them. Any genuine sentiment seems so buried under Hallmark cards and half-price candy that I become a real pisser (but, man, can I ever fake a smile for the camera) about literally or figuratively buying into another Target-sponsored celebration of manufactured feelings.
If Telefora can make a buck off of it, I generally find it to be a tiring bag of wank.
All of this said, however, I also know myself well enough–am frank enough about my best friend, one Ms. Self-Interest–that I would think Mother’s Day would be an exception to my holiday peevishness. I mean, a whole holiday about ME, to celebrate ME, to stroke ME for either having pushed a pink thing out or having one cut out and then hanging around to make sure it eats carrots every now and then and has a lint-free belly button? How could I not revel in such a day?
Indeed, Mother’s Day is my truest test of Holiday Hatred. And I actually, weirdly, pass this “test,” in that I find Mother’s Day, like Valentine’s Day and all such Daze, to be a bunch of sound and fury over me just doing what I am already committed to doing. In other words, I feel the love all the time, every day, so can’t that be gratifying enough? Do I really have to expect someone to spend $2.75 on a pre-written card? (When signed at the bottom with a simple “Love, XXXX,” such a card ends up feeling, as one of my good friends notes, like a freeze-dried hug.)
Yup, I can be a serious beotch about this holiday business.
But then my kids trooped in this morning, carrying the gifts their teachers (mothers themselves, eager to carry on a cultural beatification of that role) had them make in class. The Niblet had made a handprinted tile,
Even better, the whole lot of them were carrying a warm coffee cake and big bowls of strawberries and pineapple. Bonus points to the crowd for good food! Feel free to do that any day, not just Mother’s Day, for the love of Martha Stewart.
Then, as I dug my fork into the cinnamon/walnut cake, first-grader Girl approached me (teensy gold balls adorning her pierced ears) and proudly, excitedly, gave me her gift in a magic-markered paper bag: she had painted the heart box that you see at the start of this post, and inside of it was the Tool of My Conversion, a letter to me, written with the gift of her emerging literacy.
Have a good time. You are kind to me. I love being with you. My favriate part is when you stay home with me. The places I like to go best with you are the park, the pool, and walks. When you go to work, I miss you. I love makeing treats with you. When ever you play outside with me I like you pushing me on the swing. When you push me in the stroller wile your running cause I like showing you wear to go also when we take walks I still like showing you wear to go.
When we go to the park I like when you chase me and play in the field. Whenever you play games with me I always win. I love when you hug and kiss me. When you run with me and I always beet you. I just like being with you. When you cook with me my favrite things to cook are brownies, cookies, cake, pie, and cupcakes. When I do swimming you always say I did good.
Sure, her note buffets me with the stark truths that:
a) kids are, ahem, damaged when their mothers work outside of the home;
b) she is seven and can beat me at any game or running race (seriously, I’m not one of those Self-Esteemer Pushers who loses on purpose so Girl can, in ten years, have the confidence to say “no” when her friends pressure her to shoplift; I’m okay with her learning that losing is part of daily life…except I’m too lame to beat her at anything);
c) she has a strong compulsion, already, to tell me where to go
d) I have passed on my “sugar is the true meth” attitude towards life to the puir wee gel
However, beyond that, it’s a love letter, one that might never have been written, if not for the damned holiday. After rubbing my fingers over the lines a few times, I refolded the note laboriously and placed it back in the heart-shaped box, where it will sit on my dresser forJocelynmore.
After my eyes stopped leaking, we all went outside, where the goodness gifts kept coming; the Fam had planted some fuschia and bleeding heart–my favorites!–in our new garden space,
and every time, for the next four months, that I walk by them, I will be reminded to cease my grumbling and appreciate the pure, bare, lovely simplicity that can lurk behind the pomposity of a holiday.
Thus, it is with only the tiniest bit of eye-rolling that I wish All Who Nurture a