It seems like only yesterday I was hanging out in Westlake Park, enjoying Christmas in 2010.
Here it is … 2011 … and I’m once again celebrating in exactly the same way. Running around looking at Christmas lights.
Why mess with success?
Now that I have a family, I really enjoy this time of year.
I don’t think I’ve ever gone into details about this publicly, hell, I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone privately either, but … what the hell … I’m old and mostly over it.
You see, Virginia, there is a reason why I don’t have a legal last name.
For the majority of my life, I didn’t really have a family. At least not as its typically defined.
I was born the only child into a physically abusive family, and when my parents eventually went their separate ways, nobody wanted me. I was abandoned.
I spent some time bouncing around extended family households, but they all had families of their own so the welcome mat, understandably, didn’t stay out for long. Sometimes, I would just crash on the subway, or I would scrape together enough to rent a hotel room. In my teens, I began working for cash under the table as a bicycle messenger, which enabled me to rent studio apartments, buy things, and have a normal life … or at least a close-to-normal life.
I cultivated a circle of people my age, but I always dreaded the holidays. Everyone I knew got presents and went home and had dinners, etc, and I pretended to do the same. I didn’t want people to know that something was terribly wrong with me, as I was convinced there was.
Think about it, even Jeffrey Dahmer’s father supported him during his trial. Even the ugliest people have faces that a mother could love. What kind of monster would be rejected by both parents?
I was that monster, and of course I didn’t want people to know this. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, I regaled people with my family plans, then holed up in my apartment. One year, I emerged the day after Christmas with a new pair of shoes that “my mother gave me for Christmas”. Another year, my father bought me a brand new camera. My parents were great shoppers. They always knew exactly what I wanted.
I kept this up for literally fifteen years, and at no point was anyone the wiser. At least if they were, they didn’t say anything.
It wasn’t until relatively recently, that I started my own family, and I could say “I’m spending Christmas with my family”, and mean it. I think this is why, even though I am not religious, I get excited at this time of year. I have an odd appreciation for it that perhaps other folks don’t have, or perhaps lose in all of the commercialism and stress.
Every opportunity I get, I take my family out and we run around the city, stop and ride the carousel, buy bags of donuts, jump on the ferry, go around and look at the lights, and just hang out. It’s a big deal for me, and I think I regress to my childhood a bit.
I’ve come to know my mother somewhat in recent years, but she’s very ill and has never met my actual family. Since the kids don’t really have a lot of known relatives, Christmas is not awash in presents. We give them what we can, but it’s mostly about just enjoying the time together. “Ice” skating in Cal Anderson park, skating at Seattle Center, walking to Westlake, sipping hot chocolate on the deck of the Bremerton Ferry, etc.
Each year, for the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, my blog gets plastered with far too many photos of lights, but I doubt I’ll ever stop. For reasons which most people could not possibly understand, it truly is my favorite time of the year.
All’s well that ends well.
P.S. The photos on this page were taken yesterday, on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day, 2011.