It seems like I should be old enough for it not to matter, but I am an orphan. My parents are both gone - and have been for a few years. However, there is never a time when this is so very apparent as that great American thing known as "the Holidays." Most of the time, I can just cruise along like other people, participating in things with my own little family without really thinking about it. And then, here they come - those times when family is meant to gather for celebration and tradition and memory making. I can handle Grandparents Day at school - for which I recruit a sibling or in law to fill in. I hate it, but the kids don't seem to mind so much. But there is just something so wrong about having to figure out every year where you are going to celebrate Thanksgiving so you don't end up being the only family at the Shoney's buffet who doesn't qualify for the senior citizen discount. Since Mom died, we have had to wing it for Turkey Day. I know we did it one year at Mom and Dad's with a bunch of extended family to ease the pain. It actually turned out pretty good. And then Dad died, too. And then Katrina left two of us homeless. Yep, homeless orphans. That year my little family went to Tennessee for lack of anything better to do, us being refugees and all. The boys played in the snow and took a helicopter ride and it almost seemed normal. There have been two restaurant meals. And, now, we are going to a cousin's for dinner.
My cousin lost her house in the storm as well and they built a new one that I hear is beautiful. That is, until my kids get through with it. And, while I appreciate the invitation and am glad to have somewhere to go, I really want to hang around my parents' enormous house, drinking my dad's way too strong old fashioneds, helping mom make oyster dressing and waiting for her to burn the rolls again. I want all the little cousins to sit at a kids' table with my brother there to keep the peace. I want to wake up the day after and eat leftovers.
My kids never experienced this, really. My mom died while I was expecting Dubya, and Daddy died before the Princess was born. It is my job to make memories like these for them. I always joke that we are auditioning new family traditions. I just wish we could share some of the same ones.
So, when I say that I "hate" the holidays, you know why. I am not really a scrooge. And, while I know and have experienced the stages of grief - reaching acceptance in spite of myself, sometimes I just take a few steps back into anger. It will pass, I know. But, pardon me if the signs of "the holidays" turn me into a real bitch at first. I'll catch up to the rest of you soon enough.