Too much left to do...too little time to do it in. Spaghetti to make, a stubborn turkey to defrost, a house to clean, a blow-up-bed to blow up, last minute presents to buy. My youngest son and his girlfriend are flying in tomorrow morning at 8AM. Whatever possessed me to buy tickets for that ungodly hour, I'll never understand. The poor things will have to leave their home in Indiana long before dawn to make their Midway flight by 6AM. It will be the first time anyone from back home will see where I live now. I shouldn't be scared, but I am. Dan is being a good sport about the whole thing. Being Jewish, Christmas is not his "thing". There's a small tree in the corner and stockings hung on the mantelpiece....and a Menorah on the table.
Christmas is not my "thing", either. Too much time spent in seeing sorrow up close and personal. Too many tears, too many fears, too much tragedy. C. Dale Young said it well in his blog, "Avoiding the Muse": http://avoidmuse.blogspot.com/2005/12/no-vacation.html .
I spent too many years working Christmas, either on an ambulance or in the Emergency Room - or both, depending on how many shifts I was scheduled and where. This is only my second Christmas in 16 years when I will not be working. I am finding out that you can quit a job, but you cannot quit a memory. Terrible things always happen on Christmas day...and on every other holiday, as well. Even the normally not-too-terrible things seem more horrendous than usual when they happen on Christmas. The expected winter house fires, the anticipated and ordinary drunken driver accidents, the chronically abused child, the oft-beaten wife, the 80 year old grandfather who clutches his chest and arrests at the dinner table....all of these are things which we grow accustomed to dealing with - and yet they seem so much more tragic when they happen on Christmas. People die every day - people die on holidays, it's a fact of life. I'm no longer in the field, but I can't seem to shake the doom and gloom. When I cannot reach a family member by phone at a time when I think they should be home, I still imagine (as I've always imagined) that my child is lying, bleeding to death, somewhere in the middle of the street, that my grandson is screaming in his second floor bedroom and no one can reach him because the smoke is just too toxic, that my 82 year old mother is lying on the basement floor with a broken hip, and has been for days, that my boyfriend was the victim of a random terrorist act at the Pentagon Mall train station. So much of my life is tainted by the knowledge that "shit happens".
There are good things in the world, too, however. Although I'm learning them slowly, I'm learning them now. There's love and there's the contentment that comes from living with someone who understands you and your moods. There's poetry to read and to write and black kittens who purr on your lap while you're doing so. There are grown children who are successful and happy to call on the phone and to visit with. There are grandchildren to spoil and weddings to attend. There are mountains close by, and an ocean within driving distance. There are even casinos for when you feel especially stupid. Not all car trips end up in accidents, not all Christmas trees catch fire, not all old people fall down. Unfortunately, you learn what you see, and I may have observed too much and enjoyed too little.
I keep trying to write poems about my work-time. It's hard, tho. I hate drama and how do you write drama without being dramatic? I have a few......eventually I'd like to write enough of them to be able to assemble a book of nothing but "work poems". My problem is, tho, that I feel disloyal to the patients when and if I write about them. After all, they didn't ask to be written about...or read about, for that matter. Pain should be private, and so who am I to take their pain and make it public?
Ack...anyhow....Merry Christmas, be safe and be happy, tell someone you love them. Oh and if you remember......
While it's probably too late this year, perhaps next year you can send a fruit basket, or a cake, or better yet, a pizza, to your local fire station, police department or emergency room. It won't be dinner with their family, but it'll still be dinner. :)