I hate Christmas. I loathe each and every moment of it, and I yearn for it to be over, and now, nearly midnight of Christmas Eve, I can see the blinking colored lights at the end of the tunnel. This is not pretty. I’m drunk. In eight hours I will begin the two hour drive to my father’s house and along with everyone else stuck in this mess, we will all just hope for the best, and stay out of each other’s way as much as possible. I don’t mean for it to sound like this because it isn’t usually, but this is Christmas, and that means it is going to be weird, and it is going to be very weird. I can feel the winds of the past screaming through my life like a cold hurricane.
My paternal grandmother started two traditions when she was alive. One; each year was going to be her last year, because she would be dead next year. The first time she told me this it terrified me, and I was very upset as any five year old would be. Slowly, over the next twenty-five years or so, the story began to lose some of its edge. She died when she was ninety, sleeping on the sofa at my father’s house because if she slept in her bedroom she was afraid she wouldn’t hear someone if they came to the door. The next tradition was she wanted Christmas to be held at her house, which was the same as my father’s house, and there was no way at all to talk her out if it. Everyone lived two hours away, and getting together at my sister’s house made so much more sense, but no. We had to go to her house for Christmas because she might not be here next year. The dying thing took a lot of the fun out of it, I tell you.
My father has picked up both traditions and he’s made it a lot less fun than his mother did.
My father is in great shape for someone who is in his mid seventies. He runs every day, he works, he drives, he does all the things he was doing twenty years ago, when his mother died, and he is going to be here next year. But no, we cannot have Christmas anywhere else on earth. It has to be at his house. Mostly because he wants to be there when the Geezers drop in, and they will, too. There are a lot fewer Geezers than there once was, but when they show up the world stops spinning for them, and we, my sisters and I, are require to wait on them hand and foot, just like we did when we were kids, until they leave. That’s the thing that really pisses me off about Christmas. We all get together two or three times a year, and it’s supposed to be a family thing, but if one of my father’s friends is there we’re delegated back to second class citizenry.
His friends have family issues of their own. The Greatest of The Old Geezer Gods died a few years ago and his wife, also sick to death of that back patting little group of Geezers, more or less banned them all from the funeral. She had quite enough of being treated like their waitress and handmaiden. She put up with it a lot longer than we have, and she put up with much worse, too.
That little group of men who all worked together were the Captains of Industry in the county and they were all pillars of the Community and they all got together and marveled at themselves. I’m not saying they were bad men, or bad people, but they sure thought very highly of each other, and because my father never thought highly of me, they didn’t either. There were men in that group that died without me ever addressing them by their first name. My father would have had a fit if I ever addressed his friends by their first names. They went to their graves with “yes sir”ing and “no sir” ing them to the bitter end. Now I’m fifty and we’re down to the last few Geezers, but since they really are dying now…
My father and I have never been close. The last time he liked me I was four years old. Last year we were doing okay, and then the Geezer arrived and every time I turned around he was wanting me to fetch tea for the Geezer, or shuck oysters for the Geezer, or take the Geezer some food, or go get a blanket for the Geezer. Any of this stuff I wouldn’t mind doing, but my father could have done it himself. But he was reverting back to the Good Ole Days when kids were there to be ordered about and treated poorly, and he and the Geezer enjoyed reliving my youth.
My father is going to outlive most of his friends. He does realize that but instead of wondering what the future is going to be like, he’s more intent on getting things back to the past. The days when he and a small group of men determined the fates of the people around them have ended. Now, there is a small group of people who will one day decide his fate, and there will be no bottles of liquor traded off for favors, and no boxes of cheap cigars to seal the deal. The Geezers are dying and one day they will no longer be there for him, to assure him he’s doing the right things, and all will be well. What will eventually happen is the people he once used as table help and wait staff will have to make decisions as to what to do with him when he reaches Geezer-hood.
I hate Christmas. I hate being reminded that I’m somewhere far down the food chain of importance to my father, and I always have been, and I always will be, unless, of course, he runs out of friends.