The holidays have always had strange effect on me. I love the season. I (too) often break out (poorly) singing Christmas songs in the office (sorry) from I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas to Wham’s Last Christmas. However, as the Christmas spirit grows around me I begin feeling more and more like I don’t belong anywhere and feel very alone in the world.
If you thought I drank a lot, I drank twice that during Christmas. Within minutes of arriving home, I would pour a glass of whiskey. I would sit, drink and go through the motions while ignoring both the past and the present. On Christmas Day, I would drive back, pick up a bottle and drink on the couch leading to crying for reasons I will never understand until I passed out.
I grew up with what would appear a storybook Southern Christmas. Most of my entire family lived in or near the small town of five hundred I grew up in. All the aunts, uncles and cousins would gather at my Granny Bootsie’s house. But holidays were always hard for me. I dreaded them. It seemed everyone had something to talk about but me. I felt like I had very little in common with the people around me. I was shy, nerdy and awkward. I didn’t want to play two hand touch in the backyard, and if I did or didn’t, I was made fun of. I didn’t hunt nor do I care to. I found myself just wishing I was at home playing with the Star Wars toys that Santa left under the tree. (Hint: Star Wars stuff is still favorite gift.) I just didn’t fit in.
Last Christmas was particularly impactful. As a drove home on Christmas Day I heard George Michael died. 54 was too young. Drunk, I texted mama and asked how old my grandfather was when he died. “57, heart attack complications due to alcoholism” Six days later I stopped drinking.
For the first time in two decades I will be sober on Christmas Day. For 20 years, every year, I would show up but not be there. This year I will be there Mama. I love y’all.