Last year, I was fortunate to spend Christmas at my sister’s house in West Virginia and to be among family, but that is very rare for me. (Getting home after the blizzard is a whole other story). This year I will be having my usual Christmas, which means church and little else. Christmas is for family and women rattling around loose are not really part of the party. I wasn’t able to have children and my taste in men is ridiculous, so here I am.
Back in the old days, nothing would be open on Xmas except the 7-11. If I had been smarter and had moved to New York City in the 1970’s, I’m sure that would be different, with a bustle of a million people and a raft of open stores, but in the suburbs, it’s the 7-11 or its analog, Krauszer’s of Montclair. The video stores started staying open about 10 years ago and bit by bit, stores started to realize that the Blue Laws didn’t apply to a holiday and started to use Christmas as a day to take returns, which cannot be good for family peace. (“Merry Christmas!” Hand over package; package is opened; recipient decides it must be returned. This must stretch the fashionable irony of any American.)
But I still go over to Krauszer’s on Christmas day to just get a cup of coffee and say “Hi!” to the Pakistani crew. There will be just a police car and an ambulance in the lot; or occasionally, a fire truck that I always park my tiny red car next to, as they look so adorable together. The streets are still empty during the morning when people opening their gifts. I lost that tradition of opening packages after the age of 21 when my parents washed their hands of the obligation. My sister and nephews and I used to mail big packages of “stuff” to each other, but lost that when I was laid off and couldn’t afford it and now what we give, we give to charity, thanks to the economy.
Both of my marriages were to Jewish men, so we didn’t celebrate Christmas, and with the aforementioned bad taste in men, my birthdays either. My taste in men has something to do with mothers who spoil their sons rotten to keep them around, but then the boys got so spoiled, they didn’t care very much about the mother and left for me, a woman they didn’t care much about. That’s why it’s better, all in all, to be alone.
I’ve been alone for twenty-five years and have myself financially set to be that way for the rest of my life. I’m old and fat and sagging and there will be no more romance, but there will be friendship and writing and family. I hope Christmas is quiet and serene and I can think and write and say “Hi!” to the boys at Krauszer’s. It’s my life and all that I need.
Merry Christmas to all. Hope you have all that you need.