Sunday, December 24, 2006

Seasonal Schmaltz

Let’s see… not believing in God (despite believing that the man called Jesus was a damn fine role model)… hating to shop even for practical things like food and new underwear… and being a vegetarian who doesn’t love to cook…. Christmas, and all its traditional trappings, doesn’t get me the least bit excited. That said, it doesn’t bum me out either. I’m entirely neutral toward this whole Christmas thing.

Not that December 25th doesn’t cause me some amount of emotion. I enjoy watching Liam’s excitement, of course. And this year is particularly amusing since I know he doesn’t believe in Santa, but is trying to fake it since he hasn’t figured out if the presents end as soon as he admits disbelief!

For me it’s the “Happy New Year” part of the Christmas season that typically has the most impact: the call to reflect on what was in the past year and what new and exciting things I have to look forward to in the new year. And having my birthday on February 1st, the Happy New Year greeting also reminds me that I will imminently be "one year older." And that, more than anything, makes me stop and think.

The year of my 29th Christmas I recall quite clearly. I had a huge amount of excitement about the fact that I was just a month away from turning 30 - and, I believed, finally entering the age at which I would be taken seriously. I honestly believed that by virtue of leaving my 20s - the decade of my mohawk, of having rats living on my person 24 hours a day, of wearing ball gowns with combat boots, and of drinking far too many Black Labels on far too many school nights – I would somehow be given the respect I thought I was due as … umm… an adult.

Throw on top of that the fact that three months after I turned 30 I was going to give birth to my first, (and only), child. Come on! Thirty, bob haircut, pet cat, Dayton boots and a mother. Everything it seemed to me, was working in my favour for achieving what I so desired: respect from a society of strangers.

I think I was 37 before I finally accepted that no matter how old my birth certificate says I am, I will never garner the nods of approval from the suits in the ivory towers. (And now, I can’t for the life of me, think of why that ever even mattered).

Fast forward ten years. The Christmas before I turned 39 launched me into a “this will be my best year ever!” enthusiasm for my new age. My marriage was feeling uncommonly stable. I was entering my third year of self-employment, having beaten the odds and survived longer than the majority of new business owners do before giving up the crazy idea of self-employment to go back to a real job again. And, I’d finally, and firmly, established my position as “the meanest mom in the world” to an eight-year-old who hated the idea that anyone was the boss of him. I was on top of it all!

Ah, 39! The promise. And the delusion!

By the time the next “Happy New Year” season rolled around, and I was contemplating turning 40, my husband had left me for a 26-year-old. And despite the encouragement from friends that “40 is the new 30” I was having a hard time seeing how a woman with grey hair, wrinkles and adult onset acne (pimples at 39/40??? Proof that if God exists, he is a bastard) would ever have sex again.

Forty. I was facing having to get a real job so I could get bank approval for a mortgage on my own. I actually wrote my first job application in 13 years. Cover letter, resume. Damn near killed me. And I wasn’t even offered an interview!

And, to top it all off, in the ten years since the Christmas that I was convinced I would earn respect of other adults by turning 30, I was now facing the reality that my own 9-year-old, having honed negotiation and logic skills superior to my own, had overthrown me in my role as a benevolent dictator and established himself as a fairly equal partner in what had become a democratically-run household.

What the?! None of this was what I had planned as I bit into that first (vegetarian) mince pie the Christmas eve before, making my wish for the new year …

So, here I am now. It’s Christmas eve again. In five weeks I’ll be 41. Reflecting on the year that’s just passed, I feel great about 40. It turned out to be an exciting and interesting year.

Through the miracle of the equity mortgage and having a great lawyer, I was able to buy the house I’d previously co-owned with Liam’s dad – without having to get a real job! (Of course, this is the kind of blessing that challenges my atheism…).

Despite the hormonally-induced zits, I did have sex last year – and it was the freaking best sex I’ve ever had, thank you very much. (And another challenge to my atheism, apparently, given my tendency for calling on God in moments of heightened awareness.)

And Liam has turned out to be a reasonable and thoughtful minority-government ally. Dictatorships seems overrated now and I’m quite enjoying sharing the blame when decisions he participated in making disappoint him.

Looking forward to 41, now. I’ll be thrilled to stay-the-course. And, if the course changes, my guess is that I’ll be good with that, too. Life is good. No. Life is fucking amazing as I head into the new year.

So, to all of you, my wish that your new year will bring you opportunities to learn and to grow, to regularly pee your pants laughing, to face new challenges and accept the outcome as positive (even if it’s not what you had hoped for), to have spiritual experiences when you’re both naked and clothed, and to love deeply and to be loved for exactly the person you are.

Everyone of us deserves nothing less. Happy New Year.



Blogger Geoffrey Milder said...

Great entry! There's lots to look forward to! Have a wonderful December 25th, and fantastic New Year, and an even better birthday!

Big hugs.


December 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so glad to hear you are well and going into another New Year filled with zest for life.

I was so excited for my 30th and 40th birthday I don't know if I can handle the excitement of launching into my 50th year...luckily I have 5 years grace to get warmed up and fit for the excitement.

December 24, 2006  
Blogger JavaRoasters said...

Reading that post I remembered the concert we went to back in our teenage years. You were a great chick to hang out with back then. As the years go by you get even "cooler and funkier" (my Dad's description of you). Besides that, I think you have become a better person, and will always be a great chick. :)

I am really looking forward to seeing you this week.

December 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merry Hooo Haaa !!

December 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Free..MYRIAM !!

December 25, 2006  
Blogger Donna said...

...and to all a good night...

Who/what is MYRIAM and why does she/it need to be freed?

December 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Myriam Bedard: One of our national treasures is in a US hoose-gow over Xmas !!

December 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a New Year's midnight electronic kiss for you - mwah - but you can't take it until exactly midnight tonight.

Happy New Year!

December 31, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yay!!! Donna's back!!! Love your matter how awesome/fucked up you (and we all) are, seeing your blog makes me feel better about there's a sistah to experience the 20s, 30s and 40s with...and so on. Here's to a great year,


January 02, 2007  

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