This past weekend, I had reason to go to a large chain store that sells everything. I simply went in to pick up a prescription, it was only my third visit to this recently opened ode to conspicuous consumption. It was vast, and I got lost, badly lost. That was because the pharmacy department was smack in the middle of what I learned while searching was this chain's largest shrine to avarice in New England.
I found the Pharmacy dept, by not before filling my cart with things that I anticipated we'd need for Thanksgiving, and oh, why not while I'm here, Christmas. I have to begin sometime and I've missed all of the non crowd opportunities, as usual.
To be honest, I have a tendency to save my shopping until the week immediately before Christmas.
I have come to realize that this happens to me because my husband isn't a holiday person. He doesn't rub his hands together in anticipation of the holidays, he doesn't say, let's have so and so and so over for Thanksgiving, and when are we going to chose our Christmas Cards? There are no hints and no guessing games about Christmas gifts.
He is scrooge, or the personification of a character that I have long suspected Charles Dickens to have created for benefit of the poor wives married to these bah humbug products of childhood or first marriage lousy Christmases past, which we had nothing to do with and now pay the price for.
I admit that I resent it.
Christmas is my time of year, not just my favorite time of the year, but truly my time, it is when everything that I get to celebrate including my birthday, happens for me. My husband's damper and the tension that it creates completely destroy's that for me.
Example: it is three days before Thanksgiving, I just got 'spoken to' about the money that I spent at the grocery store this past weekend, sans the fact that over $150.00 was for medication; and I haven't even purchased our turkey yet. I wouldn't be writing this if it weren't a pattern that has come to light more and more every year for eleven years. It makes me nervous,sick and sad, and it frightens me.
I have tried rebelling and ignoring him, just doing what
I think is the right thing anyway, but if I am not on his 'good side' (not an easy thing to do) it's just a miserable experience.
When I was growing up, I had a father who 11 months of the year was a downright jerk, and an abusive jerk at that. BUT, in December, and early in December as it began on the seventh with my mom's birthday, and the ninth with his, he turned into a Christmas elf!!
My mother got lucky, because my Dad grew up in a very poor household, and we were not at all poor when I was a kid, so Dad made good. He was successfull; and at Christmas you could see that he enjoyed, even if only once a year, sharing that with us, giving to us what he did not have at Christmas as a child. When he exhibited that behavior, especially when I was a child, it brought me the closest that I've ever been to making me almost able to forgive his worst offenses.
Both of my brothers now celebrate Christmas in their houses in much the same way, although they leave out the "I am the ONLY one who can decorate this tree as it is a work of art, and the tinsel must go on strand by strand" aspect of my Dad's only shortfall during this holiday. Sadly, that is the one thing that my husband focuses on when I bring up the childhood Christmases that I had and how great my Dad was. My husband always immediately says "Yea, especially when he was putting up the tree!"
To my siblings and I, that has become a joke, a family joke, OUR joke; but my husband doesn't joke behind closed doors any longer, and while he has absolutely no business treading on what very few happy childhood memories that my sibs and I can dredge up, when it comes to my family he steps way over the line, frequently, every time they are brought up.
Over the years I have tried to analyze the reasons why he might 'hate this holiday'. His father was a physician, and his mom a shopper extroidinaire. They didn't go to church, so no midnight mass madness preceeded by Buche de Noel (huge pile of cream puffs filled with grand marnier creme and stuck together to resemble a Christmas tree with spun sugar) which my mom, sister and I used to get smashed and try to put together every Christmas Eve afternoon. We'd always take pictures of our great creations before we slept the booze off before church, only to find out when they came back developed, that we'd created Mt. Saint Helen's with absolutely NO resemblance to a simple pine tree! Oh, how we'd laugh, they were the only tears that I can ever recall being shed during our Christmases before any of us got married.
In my adulthood, I have never been wealthy, for long periods of time not even comfortable, my husband recently pointed out to me that it was somehow my fault, but long ago my mom beat him to it. Telling me not to ever let anyone say that to me, but warning me that if it was said to me, it would most likely be said by one of my not so great at making money husbands. If I was guilty of anything, she told me, it was of having that as one of my requirements for marriageable material.
Before she died, my really smart, really savvy and nice mother, let me know that I made poor (3 of them) choices in husbands, and great ones in guys to break up with. In fact, some of her last advice to me was to figure that out and switch the behavior around. Find a guy enough like Daddy who would indulge me a little bit, not punish me and my children because he didn't like the holiday. But not so much like Daddy that he'd abuse me and my children, my feelings, my values, my weaknesses. Too late, number three is a victim, when we are not making enough money it's all about why am I not working, rather than why he is under-employed.
Mama warned me about how dangerous it can be to spend my own precious life stuck in blame, and she told me that as nothing that happened could feel any worse, it was something that I should get away from. She was a damn good judge of character, I saw it all my life, and she disliked every one of my husbands on sight! Especially the current one, whom she felt had far too much going for him to be 'such an underacheiver'.
My current husband hides in his office above the garage, coming downstairs only for food, dinner and bed. He rarely mingles with my grandson Caleb (who is four an always saying that he is scared of Bob, he won't even address him as Grandpa), and I, and when he does, it's often because he has to speak to ME about something not very pleasant, or that I am doing that is ruining our lives. So I will cop to not encouraging it instead of speaking to him about it. He has become a big fish in the little pond inside of his cranium, so noone who knows him very well aside from his mother and dangerously vindictive and manipulative (by simple 'suggestion'), speaks to my husband about much of anything any longer.
He is turning into his father, a curmudgeon, and a very controlling man, my mother in law told me that after their children were all in school she wanted to go back to school and get a graduate degree in Library Science. She had a Stanford BA that she'd never had the opportunity to really use and it was the 60's, all of her friends were getting jobs. She said that when she attempted to discuss it with him, he simply said NO as if she were seeking his permission, and that was the END of the subject! I've also been told (by his son, my husband) that someone recently mentioned that his Father had to be talked down from his tree DAILY when he came home from work by his wife. A woman who I would dearly love to have a shred of likeness to.
She made her marriage to a man like my husband work, she is far more intelligent and pragmatic than I, a different person with abilities that I do not have, but I believe that she paid a steep price for being married to him.
To this day, at 90 she is as strong as ever, her husband is in a nursing home, losing his mind, undoubtedly he is paying for something I suspect having to do with what his wife tells me was his 'anger problem', but she also recently mentioned to me that it was probably best for him to be 'out of his mind' now because he is dying and this way he won't have to bear any pain. This bears no fairness as his death is a long drawn out hell for everyone else.
In fact, he is the only one who is not psychologically wrung out, as we, each in our own way because we love him, or because of the trickle down collateral damage theory, watch my mother in law go through the worst time of her entire life, because he is out of his mind. I suspect that sitting by his bedside every day, while he no longer recognizes her, and isn't always very nice to anyone; and talking with doctors with great concern isn't the most that she's ever done for him during their almost 70 year marriage.