Po Boy Views
The Idiot and The Odyssey
Back in the day, January would annually be celebrated as the month that sanity finally returned to the grownups in my family and collaterally, to us children. In December each year we were surrounded by raving full blown bat guano crazy maniac adults that we happened to be subjected, related, and forced to live in close proximity to. Mercifully, this was when I was younger, but I feel that it became instrumental as a specific reason why I no longer live any closer than a thousand miles from my nearest relative. My life: my sanity.
Turmoil would start on my birthday, which is December 1st, and for a long time I suspected that I was the cause of the madness that invaded the household. In retrospect, I realized that the beginning of December was the time that the last welfare check came in before the horrid days of Christmas were upon us and the mad scramble for family holiday cred had to begin not only in earnest but with a high degree of alacrity. Large family; small income; pride; prejudice; pretense; competition and excessive focus on the importance of material significance all rolled up into the red eyed, fang gleaming, fire breathing, brimstone belching, mucus dripping, blood thirsty, razor clawed monster of impending failure to keep up appearances for the holiday season turning everyone around me from mild mannered Doctor (I’ll have another piece of pie) Thanksgiving Jekyll into Mister (cajones-in-a-vice-grip) Holiday Hyde.
I’ll admit I wasn’t the sharpest tack, but it didn’t take a rocket surgeon to know that the grownups were having meltdowns in December more so than other months-- when they were merely irrational, unpredictable, illogical, and a lesson to the kids that growing up was something that should be avoided at all costs.
Of course, when the New Year finally rolled in, the miasma of impending doom had passed—for them. The threats of no presents, no tree, no Santa and even no Christmas dinner had fallen by the wayside—for them; but, as kids, young and green, disappointment was our devil. Our fantasies had been bedfellows that we had nestled with each night; sugar plum fairies that had danced in our heads as the holiday season came and stood poised to drop an avalanche of cosmic detritus on our hopes and dreams.
After Christmas, the realization of the finality of the experience set in for the adults with them congratulating themselves for a job well done. Us kids, deflated over not getting our ponies, pool tables, Madame Alexander’s and Thompson submachine guns resigned ourselves that we had just not been deserving enough.
And, with Christmas past and New Year’s looming, the grownups gave a collective sigh and started gearing up for that fabulous party to come, as if making it through the year alive was reward enough to warrant a colossal shindig; each one telling the other that it ‘hadn’t been such a bad year’ and ‘this one’ll be better’ (besides, the next check was in the mail).
Fast forward to 2015. Here we go with another New Year. Our holiday angst is fading, our resolutions are being formed and there are no other big expenditures for a while (except for birthdays, anniversaries, groceries, school supplies, doctors, dentists, the usual bills, getting things fixed and gettin’ ‘er done).
I’ve come to the realization that it’s never going to get any easier; this year again, there will be gains and losses; babies will be born; loved ones will die and the rent will be a little late sometimes. The one thing that is certain about life is its uncertainty.
I’ll try to avoid accidents, missteps and the reliably unplanned ‘less-than-comfortable’ conclusions resulting from my actions (if I’m not paying attention to good and positive results); but, you know, stuff happens. Lessons will be learned or repeated. But, winter will turn to spring and there will be rain. Our best laid plans won’t always work out and there’ll be sweet surprises that transpire, magically and exactly when we need them, like the sun rising in the east over the west bank of the river every day.
We can get all maudlin about how the world is goin’ to hell in a hand basket or we can enjoy the ride; we can lose our minds and misplace our senses of humor or we can be like my weird and wonderful role models that congratulated themselves on squeaking out of yet another year and toasting each other into another year. Another chance to do the best they could with what they had.
So, I’ll keep reminding myself that I’m too blessed to be stressed and fortunate to have made it through another year myself; still standing, bent but not broken.