This is not my first Christmas alone and silent. Far from it. But it is the most unexpectedly so. I’ve been treating it like any other day because, in this situation, it is. Same look at open roles, same breakfast, same dog walk. Just less traffic outside and the Last Minute Gift advertisements have finally ended.

I have not missed at all the frenzy of shopping. It has been a tremendous blessing to be left out of that madness. In fact, I am giving serious consideration to each year booking a cabin in a pristine wilderness and just being away for all of this. Once you have experienced the pleasure of No Obligations it is hard to consider returning to the frenzy.

I figured today I might get the backpack cleaned out – it has languished too long in the truck and, a few months ago, I had to rummage through it and sub-packs were strewn everywhere. Too, it is a bit heavy so I need to scale it back a little bit. Obviously, when you need it you really need it but you also have to be able to tote it.

I had to leave the house yesterday and it was madness. Generally, I try very hard to be off the roads on the holidays because People. And usually Drunk People. So I got an early start but made the mistake of going to the grocery store to get some decent coffee. What a mess. It took forever to get out of the parking lot, too, because someone thought they could wait at the door, idling. Then wandered slowly by every aisle, considering a turn, then not. I conjured up my last bit of patience to not curse them and just go home.

The dogs had their Christmas snacks this morning – some ground chuck that I bought for dinner. Even the cat had some – the cat that refused to stay inside last night and that I refused to get up for at 3am. Coyotes be damned – she should have stayed inside. Now she has found a place to sleep it off.

Artik has remained mostly an outside dog of late – I don’t know how I can manage that later if I have to live in an apartment. And she still refuses to come inside in the evening, waiting for his car to roll up the driveway. When the neighbors come home she races around the corner as she used to do to see him, slowing down as she realizes it is not, and then trotting back to lay down again and wait. It is heart breaking. She enjoys my care but she loves him. Too bad he didn’t feel the same. Sometimes I get quite angry at her refusal to give up the vigil. It is a reminder that he is not coming back and he never really loved us as we all thought. There is still a poignant ache in that and I need no reminder of it. But she is just a dog – she doesn’t understand and I have to temper my words so that we can get through another day.

It is easier, certainly, as time passes. But the little things come up as reminders and you are forced to shake it off, again. I think that is part of the reason why I’ve considered just leaving the state entirely. It might not remove every single reminder but at least the scenery would be changed…the people and the places…no one would know me or my history.

It can be hard to see people smiling and rushing about to be with family and friends, hard to see the happiness of children, considering the gifts to come. So I try to avoid it – social media, TV, movies…it won’t be so hard next year and easier the year after that. And someday it won’t be anything more than a day off of work.

I think it can be hard to make it clear to well-meaning family that it really is okay to be left alone. They can’t always understand how hard it can be to present a pleasant demeanor when you feel things like envy, anger, disappointment, and fear. You don’t want to sit there and smile when it is a lie. Well, I don’t. I know there are people who capable of that sort of thing. I would far rather not be a damper on anyone’s fun. It is a consideration, I guess. A removal of self from the world to prevent it from being dimmed with my lack of enthusiasm.

There is, of course, the religious side of the holiday – it isn’t as though I cannot appreciate it for that or pare down all the excess to that one point, that one star. But in some ways I have been disappointed in that, too. It isn’t a “loss of faith” but rather a disappointment that having done this once was insufficient to the scale of universal balance. Why must I have this in my life again? But we can’t know the big answers in this place. It is a solid fact – you can think you know, you can have faith that you know, but no one Knows on this side of the veil. I am patient to find out the Answers. I just wish I wasn’t dealing with the eternal question of Why Me.

So while I haven’t gone full on Bah Humbug I am most assuredly not in a celebratory state. The word Diffident comes to mind. Reserved. Waiting. Wanting. And just think…all that rush and madness that so many have gone through for the last few months will be over in a week. They will start again their year with the assurance that next year it will be different.  I will begin it with the guarantee that it will all be different. Nothing will be the same. For good or ill…nothing of this life will come through to the next.

Except, I guess, dog fur. That I can count on. And maybe to stand here once more. I’d like that.


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