I don't know what it is... I always get this depressed feeling that overcomes me on holidays. I feel blah whether there are people around or not. It's just something that happens, and I've learned to just give in to it and get the day over. Since my Mom passed December of '94, followed by my Uncle, Aunt and my dog, all in the month of December, the holidays aren't a great time for me in general. And other than going to my past boyfriend's family get-togethers over the years and, more recently, my friend Robin's house for dinner, my Dad and I just try to get through the day. Sometimes he'll cook for us... and when I say cook, I mean open up a package of broccoli in fake cheddar sauce, a can of corn, some Stove-Top stuffing, some pop-n-fresh biscuits and a small pre-cooked ham in a can. The only thing missing is a plate of stacked toast and a basket of popcorn, and it's a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Oh well, it's simple and it gives him something to do, and I'm fortunate to still have him with me, so I appreciate these times as if they were borrowed. After supper (which is usually around noon because he has nothing else to do so he starts cooking at 9am), he'll go watch some football game and I either go in my room and watch movies or I'll go to the hotel to blow leaves since the parking lot is always empty on Thanksgiving, finishing up the last few days of my landscaping contract for the year, until March when I start all over again.
There's so much hustle and bustle around the holidays. You spend all this time running around making this huge meal, not to mention all the clean up... and it's scarfed down in 12 minutes... just about the amount of minutes of the football game's half-time... coincidence?... I think not. In the past, all stores are closed and that makes me claustrophobic. Like my Aunt, I need to get out of the house every day whether I need anything or not... it just breaks the day up and breaks my cabin fever. This year, many of the stores have hours on Thanksgiving, which is blasphemous... after sitting down to a family meal giving thanks for what you have, we then camp out and trample others alive to get things that we don't need, all to save a few bucks. We are a strange bunch, that's for sure.
I remember the holidays when I was younger. Like good Pittsburghers, everything was cooked in the oven in the basement and most parties took place there as well. If you're not from here, don't ask why celebrations were held in the basement... they just were... there's no logic to it. There always seemed to be a foot of snow on the ground and I'd have to go out and shovel a path in the yard for our dog, even though he never actually walked on the path. When he came inside, I'd have to pick the snowballs out of his fur. My Aunt and Uncles would come over for Thanksgiving and we'd all sit down in the fancy big table room, one of the few times we'd be allowed in there and not have to eat a meal off a metal TV tray. Being Italian, most times my Mom would make spaghetti... or ham... which was good she didn't make a turkey because if there's one thing my Mom was really good at, it was making meat dry as fu@k. I think I still have a pair of loafers made out of her pot roast... leathery and dry. Thank goodness for applesauce, which I put on top of everything to get it to go down. There was always black olives, pepperoni and some sort of stinky-ass cheese that my Dad would pick up and they always went in the same bowl or dish, year after year. The Christmas decorations always went up the Sunday following Thanksgiving and down the day after New Years... and they always went exactly in the same exact spot every year with no deviation. I would help my Dad make pizzelles as he made smelts at the same time and the house smelled like fish and anise... which, I'm fairly sure, is what my Aunts with the mustaches wore for perfume. On Christmas eve, I would crawl into my brother's bed and my Mom would sit on the edge and read us The Night Before Christmas. Now, I just wish that my brother would crawl back under the rock from whence he came. Times change.
As you get older, you realize that it wasn't so much about what bowl you used... or what you had for dinner... or where a certain decoration was hung... but, rather, it was about being with your family, as screwed up and dysfunctional as they were. And as there are fewer and fewer around, you appreciate the ones that you have left... and cherish the memories.