Recylcing the title for another great weekend...
It was with a sense of irony the holiday season overtook me. My general mien seems to be getting jollier by the year, and I was feeling decidedly un-merry. The depredations of my country and the rampant and crass commercialism seemed especially nasty and cruel this year, with the one time religious majority shrilly whining about they no longer have a free reign to impose their beliefs on others. Nobody seemed interested in simply striving to be a better person even for the brief Yule season. I guess the same openness which makes life and people a celebration for me, has the down side of making the aspects not worthy of celebration more visible.
Then on Christmas Eve I went to my friend Beth's house for dinner with her mother, another friend of her's named Lisa, and Beth's roommate and mother, Peg. The four of us had a wonderful dinner, a nice take and bake pizza from Papa Murphy's. I brought along a bottle of wine my friend David gave me on the 10th, when I had a small get together at my house. Beth was there, so it seemed a nice time to open that bottle of wine.
On Christmas I slept in nicely, then built one of the flats for the show I'm working on with Paula. 1"x4" construction with 1/8" hardboard, all attached with screws and glue. As usual I over engineer things, though it is by necessity. Stuff that gets moved around a lot in shared spaces needs to be sturdy. Repairs will likely need to be made, as I've discovered with some items. When the set piece is strong and a wheel or hinge breaks repair is easy. Flimsy items are very hard to repair, and may not be worth the trouble. I'm going to build 4 flats that are eight feet tall, and either 4' or 3'8" wide. They will be hinged in pairs, and the slightly wider bits will accommodate light switches and such without being prone to damage when the flats are folded. Pictures later maybe.
So, I finished up the flat, moved it out of the way, moved the motorcycles back into the garage, cleaned up, and headed over to my brother's house for a family celebration. I hadn't seen them for several months, and it was a great time. I'd no idea my sister's family was coming so that was a wonderful surprise. Very rarely do all three of the siblings get together. My father was there too. My stepmom Joyce had flown to Chicago in the morning to be with her family so I missed her.
My mother made it, and I was a little tense about it. I hadn't seen her in over two years, and was pretty happy with that situation. She was gracious and thanked me for the nice way I packaged her belongings and provided for storage so she could sort through them with some leisure. I was distantly polite, as I kept expecting the other shoe to drop. I don't want to re-connect. Perhaps the most gracious thing she did was not push it. I do not want to ever be in the situation we had before, and sadly I have no trust or forbearance left.
I was happy to see her around the grandchildren. Her new situation has helped, as aside from myself nobody seemed uncomfortable around her. And in my case it was my own trepidation which caused the discomfort, and it was of course much less awkward than I anticipated. It really was a nice gift to see she has some connection with the rest of the family. I was it for many years, and when I was finally fed up she had nobody left. My departure at some level encouraged the other kids to give her a chance or maybe caused her to curb some of her chronic and well-studied meanness as I had bluntly suggested, in as gentle a way as I could think of, for over ten years. Likely it was a combination.
I suppose the awkward encounter was a tremendous improvement. Her last words to me were, "You really are an ungrateful bastard!" Mine were, "Well yes, I suppose I am." It was an appropriate and comfortable closing for me, though at some point in the future I possibly might have liked a different conclusion. My biggest worry at this point is she will want to resume contact. I've no desire. I don't feel like or dislike anymore. The idea of dealing with her again simply makes me tired. Maybe in another couple years I'll be detached enough to be a little gracious myself. Right now the only thing making me doubt my desire to stay estranged is a feeling of familial obligation. That sense of duty was abused and manipulated from the time I was 5 or 6 years old, so forty years of being manipulated makes me refuse to cave to 'duty'. Sadly, I became aware of the manipulation as a nine or ten year old but stayed in the game because being an adult protector gave me an illusion of personal strength and stability that I held onto for nearly forty years. Funny. Now that I refuse to play the game my close friends thank me for being a pillar of strength for them. Whatever it is that lends strength and caring to others, consciously attempting to be a pillar is not it.
I tell myself I've dealt with my mommie issues, but a three paragraph discussion has me reevaluating.
Christmas was a great day. The whole family was together, pictures taken, and no incidents to even slightly sour the day. I left around 11 PM as the other guests were hitting the hay. Mike Kawaguchi, my best friend in college, had invited me to the Seahawk's game on Sunday. I'd responded to his E-mail quite quickly, but hadn't heard back and wondered if maybe I was a victim of his spam filter. He called me yesterday morning, and stopped by a few hours later to give me a ride.
It was great catching up with Mike, who will be retiring from Microsoft in a few short weeks. He has been there quite a while, and recently the culture change seems to have caught up to his group, and he hasn't been enjoying himself recently.
His mother broke her femur a month or two back, and instead of a body cast and traction they do surgery to pin the bone while it heals. I remember their New Year celebrations, and the spectacular feast she would prepare. His mother was born in Japan, and his father is second generation, and despite spending WWII in an interment camp he became a career navy doctor. Mrs. Kawaguchi who is always busy doing things, also learned the cuisine of every place they were stationed, and sets out traditional foods from many cultures, as well as some amazing fusions. I was thinking of all the work she does for the celebration, and asked "Has everybody volunteered to help your mom?" Apparently, she wouldn't have it. She's not fully recovered yet, but is on her feet.
After telling me about his folks he invited me over for New Year's day. I think the last time I spent New Year's day with them was during my first leave, for the first day of 1985. I always adored his folks, and am really looking forward to seeing them and the rest of his family. I haven't seen them but a handful of times since that last New Year's. It was a growing up kind of thing. When I moved back to the area in 1994, I'd hoped to spend New Year's with them, but since it had been ten years I felt asking would be too pushy. It was a total surprise to get an invitation yesterday and I was delighted to accept. I am really looking forward to seeing them again.
After the football game I went over to Steve and Paula's. We'd talked about having a sushi dinner, and thought I'd check before having Mike drive me all the way home. It was still a go, and their van was running fine and they could give me a ride home. So, I saved Mike a trip back to the east side, and met up with Steve and Paula who are less than a mile from the stadium. Mike couldn't join us because he was going out with his mom. We met up with another friend of Steve and Paula's and had a wonderful dinner. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday put me in a nice holiday mood, a perfect wrap up for a great holiday weekend.