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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

In the Face of Sadness: Retreat Into Traditions

I don't know how much I have really talked about the things that have been happening in my life. I hint. But I try not to do too many details so as to keep from spreading the depressing crap around. The last 7 years have been one long emotional storm featuring swells of crushing disappointments followed by calm depressions. Just before you catch your breath enough to swim a few strokes in fierce tides a wave breaks over your head. The closer you get to shore the harder you have to paddle because there is a whole ocean behind you trying to swamp you and drag you out into deeper water.

It started with my dad's death in October. The first few months were horrible once I found a time for myself to grieve. And then all the things that come up within a family when there is a death surfaced. And that has been a struggle. Every advance is met with a swiping blow to knock my feet out from under me. It is our habit to control each other when we can not control the world around us. I recognized and broke that habit when I was very young. But I could never convince my siblings that they needed to control themselves and not others. And when dad was gone the control issues began again in earnest.

I stashed parts of me deep down inside, my dreams and my aspirations were buried so deep I had to find a life coach to help dig them out. How many arguments? How many lectures about being responsible and getting a real job? How many times did they convince me that I would never amount to anything? And how many times have I come back after laying low? I can't count. I've lost track. I only know that to be myself is the only thing that I have to do in this life. And I intend to do nothing else for the rest of my life.

And that, I think, is why the new Peacock and Pomegranate motif has surfaced. They are representative of resurrection and immortality. If any time of the year describes renewal better than winter I don't know what does. In the darkest days of the year everything grows dormant. So when the holidays come up and we indulge in our traditions we renew ourselves.

 This has been a sad season. Not just because of the things that have been happening in the world. It took me a year to accept the life that I have. And to get beyond the limitations of a relationship that I had left while grieving one that I accidentally made sure would never happen. A year ago I realized that I was being duped by my brother and it took almost the full year of discovery motions and lawyer chats to make the whole thing come out into the open only to find a detailed, dated account of betrayals. I really thought that this last one would be the one to end me. But it wasn't. One of the reasons that it was not the betrayals to end all betrayals is tradition.

Christmas Eve found me under the clear lights and garland in my window in the same way many Christmas Eves have found me in the past: gorged on eggnog, MY music playing and knee deep in projects. Our Christmas Eve tradition when we were kids was to open mom and dad presents in the morning and then play all day. My presents were almost always art related; color by number oil paints, Crayola art play sets, coloring books and DIY Christmas village houses. My gifts let me go away from everyone else and be in my own world. Those were good holidays.

Last Christmas sucked. Poorer than a church mouse, frantic about being able to have somewhere stable to live and never certain to have money for food... I sat in a huddled mass in the middle of my bed for most of the season and especially Christmas. But this Christmas Eve I got back into the traditions that always brought me some measure of comfort if not downright joy.

I went to Michaels to take advantage of a newer tradition, the semi annual storage event and purchased the requisite some assembly required units. While I was out I got the phone call announcing that my CDs from Germany had arrived. When I got home I put on the tunes and spent hours assembling the goods. In the end I had the means of organizing myself so that I now have a bit of a studio.Then had the prime rib dinner at work and came home to start the Christmas Day joy.

Christmas morning I woke to Matthias Reim's Christmas CD and cracked open a brand new watercolor pad. Onto the next tradition. A day of new art, eggnog, more music and then at 4pm the Christmas Story. It was a wonderful day.

The only thing that is missing from those holidays of old is the day after puke fest. I always used to get sick for the entire day after Christmas. There was an awful amount of stress leading up to the day. And then the absolutely sickening amount of excitement when the festivities ensued that my body just couldn't handle it. I've been seven years without the puking. If I could have dad back I'd put up with the upset stomachs again. But he is where he is happier and I always have him in my heart anyway.

Rituals were made for mankind for a very good reason.

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