The Holidays are tough for me.
Mostly because they are intended for family.
My family and I have been strangers for most of my life. And in all honesty, I don't know them any better than they know me. Well, what's left of them.
My father was the glue that held it all together. When he died, I knew it would change the dynamics. He was the peacemaker, the intermediary, the light, and occasionally the bringer of war. My father was a force of nature. Mostly positive, but if you wanted an enemy, he could be that too. When he died, he took the glue with him.
If my sister were here, and you were to ask her about our relationship, she would offer a completely different perspective. I know this. But, in all honesty, some of our most heartfelt moments were in the last months of her life. We had a lot of resentment and animosity that only the looming specter of death could relinquish...but by then, it's too late...right?
One of the gulfs between my family and I was simply the aesthetics of personality. My family could say the most vile, vicious things, yell, scream, and cry...and then act the next day as if nothing had happened. I've never been able to do that. I'm much more like my father in this regard. One errant word, and I won't reach for a cup of water if you catch fire in the next moment.
I guess you could say I hold grudges.
And life has marched on, and they're gone. And the family that remains are strangers, no more familiar to me than that associate who always seems to be working nights at Jewel. I know here face. I know her name too. It's Alison if you were wondering. Painfully, I feel the distance that I always experienced with my family growing between me and my daughters. I'm hoping it's just the age, rather than a permanent fixture of our lives. Time will tell I suppose.
When I was a kid, I seemed always surrounded by other misfits. We would band together. We'd spend the day playing games, wandering, trading stories and talking shit.
And as I've grown into a "respectable" member of society, I don't have that misfit circle anymore. Most people I know now have families, and spouses, and kids that they can't wait to spend the day with.
I spent the entirety of my day till now working. That helps past the time. Helps slow the brain. Helps ignore the discontent.
Following work, I was supposed to have dinner with a friend and her circle. As closing time approached, the thought made my stomach turn more and more. And so, here I am...the band Snot ringing in my ears, left alone with my thoughts.
And in the midst of this existence, I have so very much to be thankful for, and that notion certainly doesn't go unrecognized or appreciated.
I have a lot of positive people in my atmosphere. Mostly acquaintances, which is totally fine, but also a few close friends who help keep my head on the right side of the clouds. For these people, I am thankful.
I work 7 days a week. It's certainly not the coolest state of being I've ever experienced, but I'm thankful that I have jobs, and that I'm able to cover my bills. I know that tonight there will be people sleeping in alleys, and on grates to find some warmth, and on trains, in houses with no electricity, and anywhere else that a slight respite can be found. I will be sleeping in a bed tonight. With sheets, a blanket, and a roof over my head. For these things, I am thankful.
Tomorrow, I will train jiu jitsu. Right now, it's the only thing in my life that brings me absolute joy. I'm glad that I have health enough to train, and not only the financial means, but also the privileges of modern life that allow me to do so as well. Jiu Jitsu is the one thing in life that keeps me absolutely sane, and I don't know here I'd be without it. For this, I am exceptionally thankful.
When all else fails me, I have my memories. I think people discount memories. Sometimes, you have to slide them up and over you like a sleeping bag, and just fall in. Sometimes. Memories of better Thanksgivings. Memories of people that I miss. Memories of laughter, and movies, and waking up to a throng of people on every couch in the room, because you all ate so much food, you knew sleep was eminent. I'm thankful for the experiences I've had, the people I've met, and the paths I've walked. They've given me the strength to stand today. For that, I am thankful.
My life is far from rosy, and I'm not going to create fiction to convince anyone that it is. But, it is the only one I have, and if you've ever met me, you know I ride it like a bumper car; bouncing to and fro.
I hope you all have a wonderfully pleasant Thanksgiving, and whatever situation or circumstance you may find yourself in, you can take a few moments to see the silver lining, and to offer thanks to the good. As I always said in Afghanistan, "It could always be worse."