Day 85: Haul Out The Holly

Everything is swirling in my head this holiday season like a psychedelic candy cane.

Thanksgiving, though it went off without a hitch, brought up a lot of stuff for me. And, it’s been making me really, really nervous about Christmas. Not necessarily because I’m worried that I’ll drink. I know I won’t. But, I know there’s going to be discomfort around not drinking. And, it has nothing to do with what family does or doesn’t do around me. It’s me and my fucked up head.

Christmas. Being in a place I’ve been a million times before, with the same people, doing the same thing. Except, this year, I won’t be doing the same thing. Or, I will, I just will be sober for it. It gets confusing in my head. And, who knows how confusing it will be when the actual event arrives? I’m trying to keep afloat by not putting too many expectations or too much weight on the situation. Let it come. Then, and only then, can I truly fret about what’s going on around me.

Tonight though, I was able to put my fear and worry on the back burner and enjoy the first of what will hopefully be many sober holiday events in my personal life. I invited the awesome guy I’ve been dating, I’ve been calling him Lars here on the blog, over for dinner. In exchange, I only asked that he come help me get my Christmas tree and help me decorate it. It’s a tradition that I absolutely adore.

Getting my tree, it’s the symbol that the holidays have really begun. I get my favorite Christmas music cued up, cook something warm and inviting, pull out all my ornaments, lights, and nick-knacks. As far as I’m concerned it’s the best type of heart warmer.

Last year, I did it alone. Well, I shouldn’t say alone, because I had a fifth of good ol’ Jim Beam bourbon with me and a twelve pack of Full Sail’s Session Christmas brew. I got my tree at the nursery all by myself. Struggled to unload it off my roof rack, and dragged it inside, refusing the mail man’s offer to help. I drank near the whole fifth of bourbon, and, I can’t remember how many of the beers. I wept as I hung lights and played one of Frank Sinatra’s Christmas albums. I called my mother. I don’t remember what I said or what she said in response, but, I do remember the concern in her voice. I knew that night, something was broken, and it was more than my heart.

After I managed to get the tree up, I stumbled to the bar. That’s the last thing I remember. But, when I woke up in the morning, fully clothed in my bed with a massive hangover, I walked into the living room to discover that I’d knocked the tree over. Ornaments littered the floor and the blue carpet was soaked from the toppled tree stand.

I later learned that I’d gotten so shitty at the bar, the owner had another, more coherent, regular walk me home. He’d left me to stumble in my front door, and the rest is a mystery. God, what misery.

This year,  I started anew. I giddily drove with Lars to the nursery, jigging like an elf at every opportunity. He helped me get the big ol’ tree up. Followed me with the lights, as I circled around it, and helped me hang ornaments while we listened to my favorite Chieftains Christmas album. I made chili and we had a cute little meal in the small dining nook of my apartment. We had coffee and smoked cigarettes. We laughed.

So, this is what making holiday memories is supposed to be like…warm and heartfelt. Easy and light. Special.

Whatever the actual holiday brings me back in New York City, it’s really of no matter. I’m making new traditions. Living a new life. With new, good people. And, that’s what the holidays are about. Not wine, bourbon, beer, or lonely misery.

The ghosts of Christmas past will always be there to remind me where I came from, but, it’s the gifts of Christmas present that I plan to enjoy. Here and now.

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