Chinese Food

This is the first time in my life I’m going to wake up on Christmas by myself. It’s the first time I won’t be with my family and I’m having a hard time with that. There was one year when I went to my partner’s parents’ house but they were family at the time so they counted. We were only a few hours from home anyway. Now it’s two days before Christmas Eve and I’m clear across the country just getting around to writing Christmas cards. My mood is somber to say the least. I miss everyone so much.

The last string of posts on here illustrates the emotional holiday roller coaster I recently boarded. One minute I’m up, the next I’m down.

A little part of me is dying at the thought of not eating Chinese food with my grandmother on Friday. We do it every Christmas Eve. She sits at the head of the table, where she has forever sat, and I sit to her left piling enormous amounts of Kung Pao pork and General Tso’s chicken onto her plate, more than anyone thinks she can eat but she always finishes it. Then we eat fortune cookies and laugh and laugh and laugh.

This year is different. This year the impact of being laid off is finally hitting home. The money has dried up and what little room I have left on the credit card will soon be snatched up by head gasket work for the car instead of a plane ticket back east. This year I’m paying the financial consequences of chasing a dream to be a small business owner and I continue to pay the consequences of having a car and pets. It’s a combination of unforeseen circumstances and personal choices.

The thought of walking away from my food cart in order to get back on a path to financial security breaks my heart. But it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as this moment when I am so far away from my Grams and my mom and my dad and Kathy and Joanna and Ericka and my sister. I’m not going to lounge on Mr. and Mrs. Contorno’s couch this year, leaning my head on Joanna’s shoulder, reaching my hand over to rub Kathy’s pregnant belly. I’m not going to hug all of Kyle and Priscilla’s kids or Ericka’s either. I’m not going to sit on the floor next to my Grams with my head in her lap while she opens her presents. Talk about a shot in the gut. Not having enough money for a new toothbrush sucked. But not being surrounded by my loved ones on Christmas?! Holy good god I might rather stick forks in my eyes than suffer this again.

The weight of the sadness I’m feeling at not being with my family right now is making it clear to me where my priorities lie. I’ll never let this happen again. I’ve learned so much this year about what I truly need (and don’t need) to survive. In this moment I’m recognizing how much I need to be sitting next to my grandmother on Christmas Eve eating Chinese food and then again on Christmas morning when I make her brunch.

In the meantime there’s a lot of work I can do to better love the ones I’m with. That’s honestly something I’ve never been good at so the practice is welcome. I certainly won’t be alone all day Saturday as gracious PDX friends have invited me to their house.

Stupid Christmas making me all sad. I will snap out of this now and go write some upbeat cards. Sorry for the downer!

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