December 13, 2007

Darkest before the dawn

As we hurl toward the winter solstice, Alice seeks comfort she cannot find. The holiday season is never her favorite, but this year it is darkened by another death in the family -- Clover's Companion's father had a massive heart attack and died at home over the weekend.

Alice's own father met the same end, and while it was many years ago, everytime someone's father dies the same way, Alice relives the days following her own father's demise. Each time she remembers something different -- she remains foggy on many of the exact details -- but a girl only has one father, and Alice knows the ache of losing that one suddenly and without warning.

It was winter, too, when Alice's father died, when she received the phone call she couldn't believe, when she had to call back to make sure her mom said what Alice had thought. The memory alone makes Alice shake with sorrow.

So, it's not happy holidays around here. Christmas lost whatever luster it may have retained after Alice's father died. He was a master of celebrations -- the food, the gifts -- it was his time to shine. No one in Alice's family has the same high spirits; no one makes us feel that good, makes Alice feel adored as the daddy's girl she was.

And, face it: after a certain age, any present that anyone is willing to buy for you is probably something you could easily obtain yourself. Basically, it's letting your friends and family run the errands you are too lazy to do. The stores are crowded; the streets full of tourists, and midtown isn't fit for New York natives between Thanksgiving and New Years.

If you felt like shopping online, it would be a simple matter to type in the credit card number you've had the opportunity to memorize. Then, you could get whatever is in the $50 and under department without the gift wrap, delivered straight to your door. You still get to open a box.

The newest element is credit card recitation seems to be sharing your so-called secret code to verify your identity. It seems like as much consumer protection as the T.S.A. offers passengers in the way of airport "security."

As it is, all our shopping seems pretty much a wash. Sure, the shiny paper and bows adds an element of surprise, but more years than not, Alice would just as soon go from Thanksgiving to Groundhogs Day, without making stops for the rest of the politically correct "holiday season." The only exception to this desire is Alice looking foward to exploiting her role as Aunt Alice to niece Kayanna.

What would Alice like for Christmas? Her dental aspirations include retaining her two front teeth and the rest of the matched set in her mouth. A pony wouldn't fit in the living room, and Alice is too old to believe in happily-ever-after. She would like to see her father. She would like to see CC's father. She would like to see Dona. But as Jim Croce sang 30+ years ago, she has only "photographs and memories...all that I have are these, to remember you."

Frequently it is the intangibles, the memories of what once was, or the stories Alice has created to match the memories that may or may not be factural -- or the idealized hope of what might be. Failing that, she wouldn't mind enough money so that she could live off investments for life. (Alice will never understand the people who define themselves by their jobs; she is looking forward to being able to answer the "what do you do" vocational question with, "I'm retired.) The work place is way overrated as a place to absorb her energy, or most people's, she thinks.

To top it off, the sky is pitch-black (inasmuch as a Wonderland can be, given the ambient lighting that abounds here) by 5 pm, maybe earlier. For whatever reason, it tends to be much easier to get though the day when the actual daylight sticks around. S.A.D. lamps give Alice migraines, something she would rather avoid, thankyouverymuch. In short, come winter, Alice's brain chemistry can't win for losing.

So, she apologizes for the melancholy tone of this post, but warm and fuzzy are not how Alice is feeling at the moment.

They say it's always darkest before the dawn. Alice will be very appreciative when the sun rises again.

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Blogger the only daughter said...

Whenever I run across a post about fathers, especially by daughters who love/d them I worry over my own father/daughter dynamic.

I am sorry for your losses and hope the natural light shines for you soon.

2:09 PM  
Blogger scout said...

Perhaps because I am similarly inclined toward the melancholy, the December 25th I remember most vividly from my childhood is the one when we received a call early in the morning reporting that my maternal grandmother had had a stroke. Hers always having been the house we gravitated to for the big day, we ended up eating dinner that night at McDonald's. It was the year my childhood concept of the holiday died, so I can imagine the damage losing your father during the season might wreck on one's psyche. My thoughts are with you and CC.

5:18 PM  

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