Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot less like Christmas

SWMBO and I had big plans for Christmas.

We spent much of last weekend cooking candies and other treats as family gifts, and SWMBO spent several evenings during the week making more. I was nothing more than the lowly sous chef in this effort. Ninety percent of the work, and 100% of the expertise, was her contribution.

Oh, I also made a half-dozen bags of "Chex Mix" crunchies for nibbling, but I made it in her kitchen and she kindly managed to hover over me less than would be justified by my lack of culinary mastery. Note: they turned out rather bland in my taste tests, although we did manage to eat all of one of the gallon bags full this weekend.

We had planned to spend Christmas Eve Day (yesterday, now) with my family. We were to arrive with a truck full of goodies, and spend the afternoon and evening with friends and family, taste-treats and egg-nog, cards and teasing my various nieces and nephews.

Christmas Day would be a quiet gift-exchange at home, then perhaps either a movie or two or just settle down on a rainy Christmas with our good books.

Instead, I woke up this Christmas Eve morning with racking cough and severe bronchial congestion. By 10:30am I was so uncomfortable that I phoned my sister and mother with the news that we would not be able to attend our annual family gathering. By noon I was coughing so hard and so frequently that I gathered up my 'stuff' and crept quietly back to my own sad (and leaky-roofed) home to recuperate in an environment where I would not chance communicating my cold to my Beloved.

Before I left, we exchanged gifts. I was shamed by the beautifully wrapped packages She lay before me ... much more thoughtful and appropriate than the few childishly wrapped and generally inarticulate offerings I had gathered for her.

I was despondent on my drive home. I've left a fine woman home alone on Christmas Day, surrounded by tins full of Christmas gifts for friends and family, and here I am in a house best characterized by plastic buckets catching the constant drip ... drip ... drip of Oregon Storm rainwater leaking through a roof which has been repaired at least four times in the past two weeks.

Perhaps the worst of it is that, after sleeping the afternoon and evening, I find myself awake and unable to sleep at 1am on Christmas Day.

Oh, I'll shake off this bronchial infection in a day or two, but I was surprised to discover how disappointed I was that I was unable to see my Family and my Beloved on this, the most special day of the year.

Christmas is meant for Families. My inability to celebrate Christmas in a manner which I deem 'proper' is disappointing. But at least I know that I have people who love me and care that I'm not able to join their celebration.

It makes me wonder how people without families get through the Christmas season. Do they sink into an abyss of remorse about how fate, distances, a life lived with 'bad decisions' or other reasons have caused them to be estranged from the society they would choose to share the day?

Perhaps you know someone who is alone on this day. If so, it may be worth the effort to pick up a phone and make the call.

I may not be able to talk much without coughing, but I'll be spending my Christmas Day running up my phone bill.

That's my Christmas gift to me.

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