Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Dubai!

I never knew how I really felt about Christmas until now.

I thought I wasn't into Christmas and all that jazz. I couldn't be bothered to try to be in so many places at once. My parents were never married, and separated pretty early. My mother and sisters wanted to see me. My father and brothers wanted to see me. As I teenager I would alternate between the two homes choosing this one this year and the other the next. As a young adult, I made the mistake years ago to drive to both on Christmas Day. My siblings and parents have since expected me to be in two places at the same time. For years I had two Christmas dinners. It was the best of both worlds. My stepmother's sorrel and Christmas cake were divine and the ham and turkey were to die for. My three teenage brothers tried to outdo each other to eat the most. My mother's gungo rice and peas, pot roast, curry goat and other dishes were a force to be reckonned with. My sisters were thrilled to have big sis around.

Two Christmases ago, I got tired of driving to Red Hills and then 45mins to Spanish Town and decided to cop out with Imelda in Montego Bay. I had a ball! I think we both put on 10 pounds in that week. The ham, homemade bread and scones were heavenly. We didn't do any fancy Christmas dinner, but we talked and talked and talked and talked. That Christmas holiday was such a reprieve from what was otherwise just too much drama. In a word? Cathartic. But my siblings were hurt. Very. They believed that it wasn't Christmas without me and they didn't have a good time.

So last year, I was torn again... between the carefree and mad fun escape to Montego Bay and siblings who had not seen much of me since I moved away from Jamaica. It was a hard decision and I didn't make it until the very end. I didn't go to Montego Bay. It was nasty... torn between being a single independent with irreverence for all the disjointed family drama and being a big sister, much loved and hardly seen by siblings and parents. How silly was I!

This is my first Christmas away from Jamaica and hands down, the hardest.

I miss home. I miss the familiarity of family. I even miss having people fight earnestly to have my company. Irony abounds.

I had to invite myself to Christmas dinner this year. My husband was working and would not be able to spend the day with me and I dreaded the idea of spending it alone. He doesn't celebrate Christmas anyway(religious reasons)- it just happens to be his mother's birthday and that is the reason for the family spread on Dec 25. It's fine to be anti holiday drama but not to do it alone. That's just depressing. So I chose not to be depressed.

But how do I really feel at the end of this, my first Christmas away from my three homes? Sad.

It's not just the food- which was nice. It's not just the company- which was warm, inviting and pleasant. It was the fact that I, the one who had so many homes to go to, was a single stranger in a a room of people.

I am not a huge fan of Christmas. I think this whole post is ironic and somewhat contradictory. I hate the holidays. It reminds me that I am from a split family. I feel left out being the odd one (my siblings share parents, I share none with them). I know I have to explain that one.

Simply put, I am the child of a dichotomy. I was an only child for both parents until age 9 when my parents started a race to beat each other to their new families. My sister who follows me is 9 days older than my brother. I had a brother every two years after that and a sister sometime in between. My father has the boys. My mother has the girls. I am the only union between both families. My brothers have the same parents, my sisters have the same parents. I am the odd one. The one who was a mistake. Or so I thought for a very long time. I don't use the terms "Half-brother" or "Half-sister" and neither have they. But in reality, that is what we are. But we are blood. And as we say in Jamaica "Blood thicker than water."

And for the very first time in my life, water was all I had this Christmas Day. Not even sorrel.

My husband left work and went out for drinks.


Z said...

It doesn't sound like you were ever a "mistake" to me - you've always been valued and loved by both sides of your family. But yes, I can see how you never felt you really fitted in either part.

Kathy said...

NOW, NOW u are a 'big woman'. :-)Besides there is always next year and the next. And like I always seh, "You don't truely appreciate the value of a shower until you can't/don't take one (for days)".

The way you're feeling is totally normal. Just don't make it keep you down. The way I see it, it's time to start your own traditions and family. That's what it's all about.

MERRY CHRISTMAS MI FRIEND!!! You're always loved, needed and never forgotten!! I want to be like you when I grow up :-)

Bodhisattva Harlem Mama said...

I think most people would be lying if the holidays didn't remind us of our own places within our families, our strained relationships, our distant ones...ones where we just don't know our place. It's true when they say that Christmas is the lonliest time for's that reflection. But it really is because we have sort of made it into more of what it's not about than what it is. It's a time to reflect on our own personal relationship with God. It's a time to touch base, give thanks, especially for the gift the day represents. What's hard is when the changes's not like the old days...time, distance, death...changes, make it impossible to stay the same, even the good parts. But the one thing I that when I see your face, hear your voice, feel your love, witness your writing, I know one are MY blood. And for that, I give thanks. Thank God they got their groove on to make you. Thank God!

Corinne Rodrigues said...

Came here via Cloudcutter and love your blog. I'm blogrolling you for more and lots of catching up to do :)

Sheer Almshouse said...

Thanks everyone. You know me... I never hold on to funk. I feel it, express it , and move the heck along.

It's a LOT of change and readjustment and we are talking and shuffling our way through.

Nevertheless, holiday blues are part and parcel of my existence even if in very small doses until I have my own babies to fuss about :)

Thanks Z, Kathi, Harlem Mama, and welcome Corinne!!!!

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