So after all that, I'm back the next day, go figure!
OK, lets be honest here: Christmas s a difficult time in my family, and has always been. My entire family is very involved at the church, which means that from a young age I went to all five or so services on or around Christmas day,and as I did music I had to perform Christmas carols (this continued until I was 19 and went off to play carols at an old age home where the old ladies made me play everything twice because they thought I needed the practise).
Over the years I've gone from super-excited and writing my own Christmas carols, making decorations, spending months planing gifts, to basically just trying to survive the fraying tempers that come as a result of my parents working really hard and still having to deal with preparing the house and a huge meal for the various relatives (who are unintentionally very critical people and that can sting a bit when you're functioning on very little sleep and too much sugar). As much as I'm sure some people frown on my only going to one service (and I skipped carols this year, although not on purpose, I was being dangled over the edge of a cliff at the time)., I like to think that being vaguely awake helps me to deal with all the flying emotions slightly better than otherwise, particularly since I suck at handling people most the time.
At the moment I've been left at home to help clean up and decorate and do all the little things before I rush off to drop presents with people and get home in time for my folks to go off to midnight mass (wouldn't want them to worry about me on the roads while they're in church and can't get to me if there's a problem. they worry like that).
So basically it's a few days sprint in bomb-drill position, not saying anything personal or that could be construed as such and helping as much as I can before I feel the emergence of my inner sarcasm which means I get out of there before I start the next family feud.
One of the traditions that had become really important to me was the putting up of decorations. My brother and I used to do it together, with the kind of childish exuberance that lead to the plastic tree (it's older than I am) to sag under what looked like a tinsel-monster had thrown up on it. We also had a gazillion tree ornaments that all had stories behind them and therefore had to be put up (my brother had a panda and a trumpet, I had an angel and a saxophone, my dad had to put the star up, as well as all the clunky clay things we made at school and ornaments that were given as gifts from various people, and some that matched my grandparents decorations).
As I got older Ire also various things to go all over the house and my brother and I would fight over who got the tinfoil spiral things over our doorways (we also booby-trapped our rooms for Father Christmas but that's another story).
A few years ago when my brother moved to the UK I had to do the decorations alone, but he was coming home right after Christmas so it was ok. Then the next year was being all Grinchish and he forced me to put up decorations with him and got all excited over the smell of the tree very specific plastic smell) and so on and I got excited too.
This is the third time since then that I've done the decorating on my own, ever since he decided that his lovely girlfriend would make a lovely wife (and an awesome sister to me). I remember it being hard the first year when I thought I'd call him up to come and help and my mother wouldn't let me because she said it was his time to start new traditions as a husband in his own house. Fair enough, plus remember the bomb-drill story? You don't disagree with my mother until at least the 28th...
Last year I was so exhausted from fieldwork and diving and conferencing I kind of put the tree up and threw tinsel until it stuck.
I don't know what's been going on this year. I've been super-busy and Christmas kind of snuck up on me. I've also changed a lot this year and moved from cynical and tough to slightly more emotional and open. Maybe that's it? Maybe it's that our personal decorations are old and worn out and to be stacked at the base of the tree rather than hanging on it?
All I know is that I just burst into tears while putting up the tree and setting the table. Am I a bad person for wanting my brother right now? I love my sister-in-law to bits and I couldn't be happier that they've found each other, but sometime it feels like I really am an only child and I wish I had appreciated having him here more than I did. And I'm a little bit freaked out, I'm not a frequent cryer, so I'm not quite sure how to deal with it...
Anyway as a lot of my close friends are only children, or older children I felt very stuck without anyone to talk to. I guess this is why we blog?
I'm hoping turning the music up and scrubbing some floors will help? This mood-yoyo is starting to annoy me lately. How do people go their entire lives being emotional? It's hard work!