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December 08, 2007


wow,was this aimed at me, or did I just get lucky

I;m currently experiencing something similar

I'm in my mid forties,I have no kids,and in the past, holidays always revolved around Mom

now Mom isn't there

I still made the candy, even though most of it was for Mom's parties,and we won't be having them this year.I put the lights outside of the house, but decorating the inside seems like a waste of time,so I'm not putting up a tree or anything

this line kinda sums it up:

I don't have much outrage left. I once derived some comfort from politics and blog posts filled with mockery and scorn, but I feel like I've passed through that and it no longer helps,

I still feel the outrage, but I don't have the fire in me like I used to

I still have the same goals and obligations, but the process of achieving those goals and obligations is now more and more, exposed as a wading expedition thru bullshit and corruption, and I' just not up to the challenge most days

I don't know what it all means,but I'm living in an altered state,and there's no going back

thanks for letting me know that others understand and can relate

FreePatriot, I was thinking about you the other day and wondering how you were going to approach this holiday season. Tough time of year, always filled with those emotional ambushes. Been there, done that and am probably still wearing the Tshirt...but looking back, I'm convinced it works to not fight the ambushes, just let them pass on through.
Outrage, well that probably takes more energy than one wants to expend on this first holiday. But hey, here's to the new year and some great rants! Best, mss

As far as that goes, I guess traditions cut both ways -- they remind us of what we've lost, but they also keeps us connected to it. I guess the key to immortality is to share those traditions, and pass them on. (Which creates community, which is really what this post is about.)

Yes, Emptypockets, you eventually figure out what pieces of received tradition get kept and built upon, and what new traditions you want to invent and make new. But the first holidays are particularly difficult because all that sorting through and building new hasn't happened yet.

I was thinking along these lines on Thanksgiving -- thinking about one of my early holidays during World War II. After Dinner and before desert, we made rationed 3 minute long distance phone calls to far flung members of the family -- everyone got one very short Hello, a new baby would be tickled to go goo-goo, quick bits of news exchanged, and then the call would be over. We used an egg timer to time the calls. It struck me in thinking about all that -- I am the only person from that crowd who is still alive, and still remembers the scene. But there are certain elements from the cooking at that time that still are part of what I must eat at Thanksgiving time -- cooked for the most part the old fashioned way, though sometimes with the aid of food processer and microwave.

But we must not allow the sense of depression to freeze our antennas for the political maze. Yes, Outrage gets toned down, but trying to deepen and expand the detail of the narrative never should be allowed to die. If current drip-drips seem a bit dull, pick up a history and try to imagine the unfolding of events in another time.

Excellent post, emptypockets. Not enough attention is being paid in the MSM about the real impact and personal cost of the war as you so poignantly did. And I was struck this morning by the online edition of the NY Times. They put the CIA tape destruction story below the fold, immediately below a picture of a scruffy rock star, and the headline: "Radiohead Audacious Online Gamble," and then the subhead: "In Radiohead’s first extensive interview since their new album, the band’s members tell how tinkering with songs led them to tinker with ways to get music to their fans."

Yes, I understand how the outrage fades, because you just can't sustain that level of emotion week after week, month after month, with absolutely no resolution in sight. And that's because the MSM have a habit of burying important stories. Bury them until they fade from the public's consciousness. And they of course can never bring themselves to use simple, accurate words like "lie," "liar," or "lies" when reporting things like Karl Rove saying congressional Democrats pushed the president into the war on Iraq. Oh, no. Euphemisims are the order of the day.

So it is not a stretch to make a comparison of the current media climate of "all spin all the time" to the apathy of Germans in the late 30s and 40s, and to say the word fascist, because the emergence of a lawlessness as a policy of state went on in exactly the same way as it's emerging here. The Constitution, the rule of law, congressional oversight, international treaties, and virtually everything else that distinguished this country, made people admire Americans, has somehow just slipped away before our eyes.

Which is why, in the judgment of the Times editors, a rock star's marketing strategy is right up there in importance with the ephumestic report of the destruction of evidence by agents of the government.

It's good to see you back here, emptywheel. You've been writing excellently lately.

This one made me sad, but mostly for you.

i'm sure there are many of us out here who feel despair with you, i know i do. Sometime it seems like this madness will never end, that this evil will grow forever. But it won't if we fight it together.

You've been fighting it mighty hard by writing for us, thanks.

You give words to our feelings, and your words will stand as monuments for those we are saving this world for.

To the post - Amen. Largely the reason I havent' been commenting that much lately.

Yeah, free it's going to be a strange year for you - hope you get through it all right. I'm about your age, also no kids.

I heard a melodic guitar riff on KUT the other day, and while I was actually misunderstanding the words that went with it - I thought it line "Send all angels" was being repeated in the chorus, and it just struck me in the oddest way - not being the religious sort. Perhaps not a bad theme for all us this christmas. Send all angels.

Anyway, buck up, guys. We get a brand new year in just a few weeks, and what a lot we can do with it if we just start looking forward instead of back. Yes, sir. There's adventure ahead, to be sure. Not sure how, but I plan on sticking both feet in what puddle of it I can find.

EP, great post, and Sara I couldn't agree more with your comment. Life is one long series of transitions. My favorite part of Dickens' Christmas Carol is when Scrooge revisits the Christmas celebrations at Fezziwigs. I think what strikes me about that scene is the warmth and good cheer and the sense that from a young person's perspective that is the way Christmas is and always will be: surrounded by the same family and friends, enjoying the same traditions. The shift to the present and future makes that scene so much more poignant, because it did not, and could not, last. I think of that often now both at Thanksgiving and Christmas where my own Fezziwig gatherings have become a part of my past. The challenge is to help create that atmosphere for others now.

And I think that is also how I cope with my waxing and waning political rage. I use the rage for motivation and let it settle after the first blush passes into a plan of action... who I'll email/call, what I'll say, what most needs my attention... I guess it is about accepting my sense of loss for they world I thought I once new, and working to recreate it for others.

I'm with you Dismayed, ready to make a splash, even in a tiny corner of the pond. Perhaps our collective splashes will create a wave :)

Freepatriot - Enjoy the holidays; honor your and your mother's traditions, start some new ones too. Consider it like a wake; not a time to mourn, but a time to celebrate; as long as you mom is in your thought, she is with you.

Dismayed - I have missed you. The good stuff from the TNH threads is still present a the new joint, but there is a certain amount of clutter that interlaces into the matrix. Having you, Sara and other voices absent does not help anything in that regard, so don't be strangers...

...text testing:
"God rest ye merry gentlemen..."

Interestingly, I didn't mean to post in a spirit of depression or despair (although in retrospect I can see how an essay on deceased family members at Christmas could be read that way). Rather, the alternative to outrage, scorn, and mockery that I had in mind is not giving up but (as Sara pointed towards) deeper analysis, empathy and thoughtfulness. It seems too easy to label "the other side" as evil greedy nuts, and leave it at that. But unless all the evil greedy nuts serve in public office, surely some of my everyday neighbors must see things differently than I do without being idiots or bigots. After reading blogs for a while, I feel the need to remind myself of that from time to time!

...text testing #2:
"Let nothing you dismay..."

We don't need to have any more "angels", real or imaginary, sent to any more places on this war-torn planet.

Angels are warriors. HOSTS of Angels? Hostiles! From the very first conception they were shown with swords, now they are associated with C-130s. They have names, ranks, and serial numbers.

Just because something is shown with feathers doesn't mean it is soft and sweet and nurturing. Vultures and magpies wear feathers, too, with more innocence.

As for Christmas?

I am not a Christian, but I have held Open House on Christmas Day year in and year out. I have friends of all faiths, or none. Friends who need to escape family, or who don't have any place to go, or who are separated from loved ones by work or school, and friends of friends.... They come here. Even in the year that I was so sick that I didn't get invitations out, they came. (There were 14 mugs with dregs of cider in the kitchen and I know that my cat didn't drink them or place them in the sink!)

I almost canceled Christmas this year, and still might. Yesterday, I sent out this letter:


I have held Open House on Christmas Day for 25 years, and it has been time to take stock of the situation, and to determine what the priorities are.

I became disabled 7 years ago, but the Party has managed to continue. Even if I'm too headachy to be a good hostess, conversations flow, folks nibble, hugs abound, and someone usually gets a game going. It is YOUR party.

Finances got worse this year. There have been no projects, nothing in my cafepress store has sold [ http://www.cafepress.com/hauksdottir ] and the items I put on eBay have gone for minimum bid when they have sold at all. This past month there has been no money for groceries, no money for medicine, and certainly no money for a party. When I grumbled to a friend that I'd have to cancel Christmas (I was really depressed), she replied practically: "well, ask for help!" But that comes hard for me.

Skrogg went to the vet last week. She's been snottily sneezing and the vet took a sample to look at under the microscope. He didn't like the young cells in the population because it might be evidence of a tumor, but it could also be due to irritation. The antibiotic has an 80% chance of clearing the problem. If she isn't noticeably better at week's end, he wants her back for x-rays. [Skrogg only sneezed once last night, so I'm being hopeful.] She is eating with more enthusiasm, so her sense of smell might be coming back. Please wish her well.

I'm planning for Christmas. We should be able to pull the Party together. It's the only time that I see so many friends, and you see each other, and I just don't want to let that go. Last year, listening to Cathy and Paul and Anders and Kitty and Hillary catch up on 30 years worth of gossip, it became truly obvious that this is your party. Even if I'm not feeling social, you are.

The year there was no tree was the worst, but the naked tree last year was almost as bad. I suspect that having the tree to show off everybody's ornaments is more important than what is under it, although jingling bells do confirm that snoops abound in this circle of friends. ;) Thanks to Mary and Per, who gave me the tree for Christmas, one is up and almost decorated. There are prezzies, most still need wrapping, but there will be sparkly boxes for under the tree. The house smells of greenery. The annual pruning of the pine and holly has been done, so the welcome spray will be on the door this weekend.

There is music enough. Carols don't go out of fashion, and we can always pull out that Encore game.

Food is a problem. I can't afford the usual cider and soda and the cold-cuts and crackers. Danny says that he can bring a honey-baked ham. I'll have pumpkin bread, and possibly persimmon cookies if I can get more walnuts. Jan and Richard usually bring veggie trays; if someone brings cheese, there'll be snackables. There should be something to go with the ham... pasta salad? bread and mustard? soup?... whatever that will help make a meal. Can someone commit to providing the cider? We usually go through 4-6 bottles, depending upon the weather. Let me know and I'll pull down the pan and spices. Otherwise, we'll have coffee and tea.

Because I'm without both the migraine medicine and the antidepressant, stuff is taking even longer to get done. I've been quite glad when friends have volunteered to help move boxes out of the living room (or last year when Pat came the day after Christmas to move them back!), or dust and vacuum. The dining table needs clearing of oodles of beads/craft supplies. The living room needs to be emptied. If you can spare a few hours, the weekend before Christmas, I'd really appreciate help in making the house ready. We can't play games without floorspace, and we can't look through the books if there are stacks of boxes in the way.

[Hmmm.... this has taken 3 days to type, and I can't find several email addresses (too many computer problems), however, I'm sending it out anyway.]



Times change and traditions change. But we don't change. Not at heart. At least once each year, sometimes at the darkest, shortest day, we need to reaffirm our humanity, our social ties, the real communities we build of hugs and words and shared experiences.

At risk of appearing all grinchy-scroogey, I again observe that the Christmas gift-giving expectation can cause awkwardness among family and friends that all would be better off without. That expectation can be awkward enough for families and circles of friends who all are doing very well.

When a member of the group, or more than one, is beset by grief, injury or illness or frailty, financial difficulty, or any situation that makes “normal” holiday season behaviors difficult or impossible, the consequences can be sad. Those who can't conform to expectations may be tempted to skip gatherings, and may be uncomfortable at those they attend.

I wish that folks could gather with family and friends at holiday times without any chance that almost-obligatory expectations could mess up those times up for anyone.

Just beautiful, EP, and it captures a lot of where I'm at, as well. Thanks.

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