On Monday I was sitting here rewriting my Thanksgiving rant and what it was that got me all worked up. My sister was being a bitch about Thanksgiving and I wasn’t in the mood to grant emotional latitude. We were wrestling with the same emotion. She would have preferred to handle it at a sunset yoga class on the beach and, of course, I take such matters head-on. No one is avoiding emotions and skipping Thanksgiving on my watch. With our ages, our parents’ ages, the loss of our grandmother, and age taking its bitter toll on my grandfather, we’re both feeling a bit confronted by biology and as though we’re bringing our family’s train to a screeching halt. I love children, I always have. I don’t think I’d be a good parent for millions of reasons, most of which being my crippling paranoia of harm befalling those under my care. It’s a whoooooooole thing for me that dates back to childhood when my brother had an allergic reaction to candy we bought in the store together. They were chocolates with no mention of peanuts but I didn’t read the ingredients, something anyone in proximity to life-threatening allergies knows you must always do. He had a horrible reaction, epinephrine, 911, hospital, the whole extent of it. The next morning he was back home playing with Power Rangers. The candy did not have nuts but had less than 1% peanut flour. It was written in a font smaller than the rest of the ingredients under them. Which is how my mom missed it when she read the ingredients as she used to do constantly. This was long before peanut allergies were ubiquitous and it simply was a foreign concept to many people. Thankfully, such an irresponsible label would be unlikely today. It’s funny because I have an almost photographic memory--it is very, very accurate. Everyone in my family swears I remember this incorrectly and that I was not involved in the buying of the candy at all, that I stayed home with my dad. It’s really the gleaming example to me as to why memory is not a reliable narrator. Who knows what tricks and edits are played in the face of trauma.
Anyway, my compulsion to protect serves me well in most relationships because the other party ultimately has free will, even if I prefer they didn’t. Where it would turn disastrous is with children. My poor children would live in a fabulous, beautifully decorated, but padlocked cage. It would be like Martha Stewart’s year of house arrest. I also have a highly emotionally manipulative side and when the poor things did try to run to freedom and go to school or ride their bikes outside the fences I would probably be like “I guess it’s okay. IF YOU WANT TO KILL ME--I WILL DIE” and then dramatically faint onto an Eastlake chaise. That’s assuming the surrogate that would bear these children didn’t already run for the hills and become a Lifetime movie after I kept her comfortably imprisoned. And then the babies would need to nurse and I’m pretty sure Amazon doesn’t sell breast milk. I’ve always thought I should start a company where gay men trade sperm with lesbians for breast milk. The working title is Cock n Trade or Breast and Butter but I’m still working on it.
So anyway, this holiday brought up those feelings and I think both my sister and I wish the other would have children so we didn’t have to. She thinks I should because I’m domestic, nurturing, love children, and everyone has always said, in future tense, with no thought of using subjunctive you’ll be such a good dad. The consensus for my sister was always more like yeah you would work it out. Most people don’t know my sister well enough to know that she would in fact be a ferociously wonderful mother. Of course there is still our brother but he will probably have a non-legal commitment ceremony with a woman named Wind or Leaf and they will live in a van going from National Park to National Park and donate all their money to reforestation on Mars to escape ~corporate shackles, man~ and they’ll only bring the children home every other Summer Solstice. Also he’s enough younger than us that there’s no pressure on him for a while. My plan is just to wait a while longer and then adopt a couple 35 year olds and skip parenthood to grandparenthood. That’s what I’m suited for, I think. I’m basically one brooch away from being a grandma anyway.
You can understand how the subject at hand had us both thinking and acting irrationally. By Saturday evening, we had made peace (and she made some fabulous White Russians) and by Monday I was writing about it in kind of a tongue in cheek but I was right way. And then I got a text from my best friend with a screenshot of the Buckeye Alert about an active shooter on campus. I think she might have been driving or at work but the text above the screenshot was “where JMJ?”, my brother. I had just called him to wake him up ten minutes before, so mercifully I knew he was not on campus. But no one else knew. He is preparing to graduate and working on his thesis. At this point, his remaining classes are all neck deep in science, so with the only information that morning being that there were multiple shooters in Watts Hall, a math and science building, concern for his whereabouts was on many minds. The 911 call was at 9:52 AM at 19th and College on OSU’s Campus. His class was at 10:45AM at 18th and College that morning.
Yes, my rant was suddenly embarrassingly trivial to me. And though the morning felt unbearably dark, as afternoon came the news got better. What everyone feared and expected to be a mass casualty was not. There are 11 victims who sustained horrific injuries ranging from severe to minor, but all are expected to live. The fact that there was a police officer on the scene within one minute of the 911 call and he had the ability and wherewithal to kill the attacker in such a short period is miraculous. And such a testament to the Ohio State University and the City of Columbus Police. The officer is an Ohio State University police officer, however OSU police have access to City of Columbus training, so this highlights their successful and important relationship. His name and face are now well-known here, but in case you haven’t seen, this is Alan Horujko, the absolute pride and joy of every Ohioan.
It is common here for outdoor Christmas decorating to be done before Thanksgiving. Predicting our weather is much more art than science, so December can be absolutely wintry with snow and ice—warm and more akin to October—or usually, a giant weather orgy containing a little bit of everything. In the week before Thanksgiving, I noticed people out in droves putting up their Christmas lights and garlands as usual. But following the collective sense of horror, relief, and pride on Monday, I’m noticing a lot more people out in a second or third round of decorating. I think many are truly ready to rejoice and to celebrate.
So forgive my unusual and far reaching introduction to my series of Christmas posts here, but it was all pogo-ing around in my head and needed to come out somewhere. How we always kicked off Christmas in my family was to drive around and look at Christmas lights. As is customary for many other families. Of course this was before unlimited options in music, so we only listened to one album: Christmas with Johnny Mathis the updated version of the original, Merry Christmas by Johnny Mathis. The update includes my sister’s favorite, Marshmallow World. My favorite was always We Need a Little Christmas. And the only Christmas song my brother likes is Holly Jolly Christmas. That tradition isn’t exactly the same anymore, but I uphold it in some way. How do you kick off your holiday season? Christmas in my family has evolved and evolved and now it’s a big cocktail party where the emphasis is less on dinner like Thanksgiving and more of a big, messy cocktail party. There are no gifts anymore, too much alcohol, and always at least one truly horrifying dance between my aunt and me to Last Christmas. Last year it happened around 2:30AM and I am so glad I don’t remember it very well. Tell me about your family’s Christmas! In Australia, it seems Christmas is more of a lunch on the 25th? In Europe it seems to be more of a dinner on the 24th? In America, it is all over the place.
|My favorite style of OSU flag|
How big? What do you make? Do strays have to be cleared with the host before they’re invited? Gifts? 100% Christmas music or a mix? I also want to know all about Hanukkah. When is your favorite time for it to fall? Having it start on December 24 and end on January 1 this year seems fabulous to me, but maybe not? Tell me!