This week the jingle of bells, the tacky twinkle of electricity-wasting flashing lights dangling off storefronts, the blow up snow men and stupid faux reindeer on neighbors' front porches has been enough to launch me into crying jags that could overflow the levees of the Mississippi. If one more person in a silly hat offers to spray me with perfume or sell me some piece of crap made in China I'm likely to go postal.
When I decided to end my seven-year-marriage (one year ago) I did not envision sitting by the fire alone on Christmas Eve or negotiating to get my twin boys for half-a-holiday. I imagined that my life would become a cross between The Tudors and the L-Word: illicit sexual encounters with strikingly gorgeous Hollywood actors in Elizabethan garb. Surely, I'd have to fend off admirers the way King Henry the 8th had to fend off mistresses.
To my amazement, one year after my release from marital life, my in-box at OkayStupid remains profoundly empty except for the occasional message from guys like: MansGottaHaveWife and FatCheapBaldGuyLuvsBeerNU. Rather than Shakespearean sonnets delivered by flying doves, I get emails that say: "I likes to read uh-lot two." Or "I rully connect with yr profile. U look deep. Me two." Or my personal favorite, "Why is a great guy like me still available? Ask my wife! We have an open relationship!"
The shock of having to start over at the age of forty-three is sort of like having to rebuild after a tsunami. My friend Kathryn, who's about to deliver twins, put it to me this way: "This year is your C-section." The downside is, I don't have access to injectable painkillers.
In a desperate attempt to salvage myself from my looming holiday breakdown I contacted all my Jewish friends. Throwing self-respect to the wind I send out emails and texts that read: "What are you doing for the holidays? I'm alone this year. Looking forward to the peace and quiet, but wondering if you need some extra help cooking? Just checking in! I'll be fine! Don't worry!"
My email box fills up: "Sorry, Going to Mexico!" "Eating Chinese! Good luck!" Everyone's terribly sorry and terribly busy.
A businessman friend tells me he cherishes being alone. He means well. My therapist says, isn't it a great opportunity to begin a new tradition? For this kind of wisdom I pay her.
In an attempt to look on the bright side, I share the following reflections. Ten reasons to be grateful you are divorced during the holiday season:
1. You won't be forced to remove your aging in-law's head from the plate of mashed potatoes after he O.D.s on painkillers for that aching leg injury that is the source of fascinating conversation that you won't miss this year.
2. You won't have to make small talk with the bipolar in-law about her latest invention: a new invention for separating the scotch tape from the roll when it gets stuck!
3. Hundreds of dollars will be saved on under-appreciated gifts for all seventeen members of your ex's family, including the overweight cat, the neighbor with dementia, and the plumber who married your aunt-in-law for a green card, or the alcoholic cousin who enjoyed spilling red wine on your favorite sofa, while watching you wash her dishes.
4. You won't have to nag your ex to buy Christmas gifts for his mother (cousin, sister, aunt, you) before the day before Christmas.
5. You don't have to display the flashing, singing colored Christmas lights and your ex's favorite broken ceramic Christmas tree or the Tigger Tiger light that reminds him of his childhood and makes you think of Christmas in a trailer park.
6. You can take down the Christmas tree on January first, rather than waiting until June!
7. No more need to fake delight over the crystal snowman trapped in a cube that is gifted to you by your in laws from Utah!
8. No more battling the downtown shopping crush because you've spent your savings on lawyers and your ex took the rest. Think of the Buddhist delights of a simpler and more empty home---free of material waste! Who needs furniture anyhow? Sitting on a cold tile floor in a house free of furniture and humans reminds you of what really matters.
9. No more arguing over whose turn it is to walk the dog, change the diaper, wash the dishes, or cook the yams. This year you get to do it all your way! And you can listen to Johnny Cash and no one will make fun of you, and when you're done you get to pick the movie.
10. Best of all you won't have to write a single thank you note for presents you secretly hated. Instead write a thank you note to yourself: What are you thankful for?
Addendum: Names and personal details have been changed/fictionalized in this blog in order to protect the privacy of individuals. This is a satire and there may be exaggeration or fictions written here in order to make the reader laugh. Any resemblance to someone you know is purely coincidental.