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A quiet Christmas

This is my first Christmas since I lost my father, and I’m spending it by myself.  You’d think that would be depressing, but it really isn’t.  We weren’t really that big on celebrating Christmas, my father and I.  He didn’t like giving someone a gift that they asked for or expected, because to him the surprise was crucial, but he didn’t know what to get for me.  I wasn’t very good at picking out things for him either, even when I could afford it.  So generally, when we did anything at Christmas at all, it was just to get together for a turkey dinner and have an awkward exchange of token gifts.  Last year, I think the only thing we did was that I came up to his new retirement community and we had Christmas brunch in their dining room.  (First time I ever had goose.  I thought I’d been served the beef by mistake, since who ever heard of red-meat poultry?)  I think he would’ve been happy just to skip Christmas altogether.  So it’s not like this holiday was a major event for the two of us.

As for being by myself… well, for a while after he died, I didn’t want to be alone and I made quite an effort to seek out companionship — I drove to Detroit to visit family there, then a couple weeks later I went to the New York Comic-Con and stayed with Dave and Kara, and then I went to that big family get-together for Thanksgiving.  And in the week or two following Thanksgiving, I got to thinking, “Hey, this was good, I should try to arrange to spend Christmas with someone too.”

But then I found myself in a downtime after turning in my DTI copyedits; I didn’t have any deadlines or obligations except to myself, and I took the opportunity to do a lot of reading and listening to music.  (I bought the box set of all of Ron Jones’s episode scores from Star Trek: The Next Generation — 14 CDs’ worth of music.  I just finished it this afternoon.)  And when I tried to rally myself to get in touch with someone local and try to make Christmas plans so I wouldn’t be alone, I realized that I was comfortable being alone.  I guess I could get hokey and say I wasn’t alone because I had my books and music and ideas to keep me company.  Whatever the case, I realized I was enjoying this quiet interlude after all that’s happened over the past half-year.  Yes, it’s good to have companionship, family, and all that, but I’ve gotten a ton of that in recent months, particularly at Thanksgiving.  And sometimes being by myself is good too.  It’s how I’ve spent a great deal of my life, and I’m coming to realize that being content with solitude is something of a family trait, at least for some of us, including my father.  So I’m okay with it.

Sure, that interlude happens to overlap Christmas, but so be it.  Doing what feels right for me is more important than following some external schedule of merriment.  I’m still hoping to make some more social ties locally, but not right now.  Right now is me time.  Heck, I can’t remember the last time I spent this much time just reading and listening to music.  In recent years I’ve become somewhat too addicted to the Internet to the detriment of other recreations.  I’m glad to be getting back to basics.

Of course, a turkey dinner of some sort was still obligatory today, because, well, I like turkey.  I didn’t go to much trouble on that account, though, since Hormel makes this excellent turkey-and-dressing entree that comes in a little white tub that you can heat up in 90 seconds.  But I decided to make the corn along with it a bit fancier than usual by sauteeing it for a few minutes before I steamed it.  And… I made muffins.  A storebought mix, but I chopped up an apple and mixed it into the batter, and substituted applesauce for the recommended oil (and used one of those storebought cups of egg white in place of two eggs, because I don’t use eggs for anything other than my infrequent baking projects, and of course because of the cholesterol issue).  And that was fun to do; I found myself enjoying the process of making muffins to a discommensurate degree.  And they turned out to be quite yummy.  I am very happy with my muffins.

So I’m feeling pretty good.  I’m in the midst of re-reading Alan Dean Foster’s Star Trek Logs, I’ve got the new Dresden Files collection (from the library) waiting to be read, I finished the Ron Jones CD set today, I got to see Doctor Who at the Proms on BBC America (a 2-hour special featuring live orchestral performances of Murray Gold’s grandiose music for the new series), and in less than an hour I get to see the new Doctor Who Christmas special, airing on BBC America just hours after its BBC debut.  All in all, a very fulfilling day.  So I have no complaints.  (Although if Santa wanted to drop by and do all those dishes in the sink for me, I’d appreciate it.)

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