It is Christmas morning and I am sitting across from my husband at a local breakfast eatery run by this anal Greek man who never smiles and works his waitresses every single day of the year. I struggle with the guilt of patronizing a restaurant that makes people show up on this holiday but my waitress assures me she likes Christmas hours and the big guy will be leaving a large tip, oh yes he will. I order eggs and Big Dave wants a banana split. When the thing comes it's eight inches high, whipped cream included and he points out the two chunks of pineapple and one slimy strawberry which is supposed to indicate this was a healthy choice on his part.
I worry, it's what I do and I should not have left the house. There are relatives coming and I still need to cook some beans and slice this really hard cheese and arrange cookies attractively on a Christmas plate. I sit back and rattle my newspaper and throw too much pepper on the eggs, achoo. I immerse myself in Christmas and I lose myself as a result.
You do this to yourself every year, my husband says, a smudge of fudge sauce on his cheek. You do all this work and you're too tired to enjoy anything. I hate it when he's right and once every ten years he is. But enjoyment for me is one of those elusive qualities, usually attained when I am by myself with no human in sight.
The truth is I need my people around me at Christmas. All that random social craziness I try to avoid all year now serves to block out my winter darkness and oh, is it dark. Without this season my life would plod along from one ordinary thing to the next and I would flatten out like a two-dimensional pencil cartoon, no color or depth and the wind would blow me to bleak and scary places.