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oh oh, here they come
of parents, holidays, and finding a place to reconcile
by alex b (@Lexistential)

At this present time, I am petrified. There's a growing knot of dread in my stomach, a feeling of knowing my life will turn topsy-turvy.

Nothing in the upcoming Christmas holiday is setting off my anxiety; this year, I've been reveling in the arrival of the season by singing along to "Last Christmas" and watching Charlie Brown specials. I've been thrilled to decorate with the usual garlands, and for once, I've even liked hanging ornaments. Having done my shopping on a schedule (for once), no incomplete gift-related tasks are responsible for my ticking Spider sense that something is wrong.

If anything, I should be feeling like a proudly confident bastion of Holiday Cheer. And, for the most part, I do feel like I've been a good elf that's ridden out a tough year and is prepping for a productive 2012.

Then, I factor in my parents.

And, like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, I wilt.

At this time in my life, I'm not hugely close to my parents. Thanks to twists and turns of circumstance, our general status quo is estrangement, and polite communication via text messages and emails. With the convenience of living on an opposite coast from them, I've come to see them like sweaters in an attic; they're tucked away in San Francisco, and they're over there.

I admit, I mostly like that they're not in my visible sight. And I've largely been glad that, for the last decade or so of life, I haven't been obliged to participate where I haven't wanted to. But, this year, my life- along with the rest of my family's- changed considerably with the passing of my aunt. It's from her death (as well as the birth of a new niece last summer) that I, along with the rest of my family, decided to make an attempt at being a better unit.

Thus, this Christmas isn't just a question of the little stocking stuffer, but the possibility of arriving at some kind of reconciliation- a far greater task to accomplish, one I'm sure that Kris Kringle would balk at. Our impending New York Christmas together isn't just going to be about seeing Miracle on 34th St., but of whether we're able to handle a week in proximity together around Queens and Union Square.

I'm almost certain that at some point, we'll fight.

But, this time around, we have to do so in person.

Perhaps it's seeing my parents in person that unnerves me the most. In spite of my mom and dad both reaching their 60's and visibly aging (and looking much more harmless now than in the days where they lectured me in dual language), they never cease to be their younger incarnations to me. Seeing them means feeling like the kid that got in trouble (again), the recalcitrant daughter who didn't measure up to the immediately preceding, golden firstborn son. And, seeing them in advanced age may mean feeling like I haven't done enough for them these last few years.

At this time, I know that I simply have to face my longstanding estrangement with my parents without hemming, hawing, or freaking out. I may not feel totally enthused over seeing them (as well as with going to church for the first time in years), but the time has simply arrived to address ourselves and create new interaction as a family. I'm pretty sure that I'll feel ten times more neurotic on Christmas Eve than I ever did after sneaking cigarettes in the family car, or concealing any evidence of boys in my life.

But, I have a shred of hope that, after this holiday season, my life will be just a little bit more wonderful where it needs to be.


An expert in coloring outside the lines while reading between them, Alex B has a head for business, bod for sin, and weakness for ice cream during all seasons. Apart from watching Bravo marathons and enjoying haute bites here and there, she writes about TV, pop culture, and coloring outside even more lines. She sneaks Tweets via @lexistential.

more about alex b


attack of the text-message bitch-slap
a transcript of a casual smackdown
by alex b
topic: writing
published: 2.23.07

how do i mourn a villain?
processing the passing of a polarizing relative
by alex b
topic: writing
published: 3.17.11


reem al-omari
12.19.11 @ 1:21p

I love that you see your parents as "sweaters in the attic." That's awesomely hilarious. I see my parents regularly and they're sweaters in my closet.

alex b
12.19.11 @ 7:36p

I should go to the therapist with that one, huh?

reem al-omari
12.20.11 @ 1:49p

Nah. As long as you can verbalize what's going through your head you are your own therapist. That is my humble opinion, of course.


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