Sunday, December 26, 2010

So This Is Christmas

This Christmas was fraught with imperfections and mishaps.

As though it wasn't bad enough that I couldn't afford to buy the gifts I would have liked to have given to my dear loved ones....

Negotiations for a new job opportunity didn't go as simply as I'd expected, dragging the conversation out over the holidays, my life and career's future hanging in the balance.

My flight home to Syracuse on Wednesday was canceled after dragging the airport wait out for five hours.

My airport sushi dinner came back to haunt me in the middle of Wednesday night back in my Astoria apartment, interrupting my night's sleep after only three hours and granting me only thirty minutes of uninterrupted spurts until the alarm awoke me one final time to get up and go back to the airport.

I was so sick on Thursday that I barely ate all day, and only managed to choke down some pizza and chocolate on Christmas Eve, foregoing wine and cookies. My back was hurting so badly that I moaned on the couch and slept with a hot water bottle pressed up against it.

Christmas morning, pajama bottoms falling down from my newly-flattened stomach, I strapped my size 12 jeans on with a belt, letting them hang around my hips, and dove into an egg-bacon-and-buttered-toast breakfast with gusto, despite the pain it caused my inner workings, and the roar of protest that emitted from them.

But it was a perfect Christmas in every way, because I spent it in a place I now can comfortably call home, where I feel I am loved and I am told that I am loved. This Christmas, I received that which I wanted, but more importantly, that which I needed. This Christmas, as in every Christmas of the last several years, I received the greatest, and most needed gift of all: the embrace of a family who has chosen me as one of its members.

It's a perfect Christmas when, upon attempting to drop me and Maria off after breakfast and shopping, Maria's mom asks, "Do you want to come get gas with me?" and we both jump at the chance, with a "Yes!" and a "Yay!" The simplest activities may be routine to them, but they are a revelation to me. I yearn for the chance to wander up and down the aisles of a Wegman's grocery store with them (somewhat satisfied by today's visit to Sam's Club, which is a revelation in and of itself). I savor every bite of breakfast and every sip of coffee with them. And together, we ooh and ah over Maria's new purple sparkly earrings and my new fuzzy Christmas socks, tall enough to peek out over the tops of my winter boots.

Once I got home to Syracuse, it didn't matter that I felt sick, or had a hard time getting here, or had only received three Christmas cards in the mail, or didn't have any room for a Christmas tree in my own apartment, relegating my ornaments to my storage unit. While I have been here, I have only made a cursory mental note of the emails or phone calls or text messages I haven't received, because I have all the love and affection and care and attention I could ask for here: from sister, brothers and brother-in-law, parents, and a whole zoo full of animals, who are as all over me as I allow them to be.

I haven't pushed them away yet.

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