Growing up we had a family advent reading every night after dinner throughout the advent season. We had a wreath on the table that held four candles (three purple, one pink). The pink candle was for the third week of advent, subtitled Joy. One of my parents would read from an advent book we had when the candle(s) were lit. Dad’s side of the family is so much larger than Mom’s, so it was always Dad’s parents who hosted Family Christmas Eve. There were hanky-pankies, a cheese ball and salami roll-ups with party bread, sausage & pepperoni bites, and more. At midnight a special candle was lit and reflections were said by some family members.
I stopped attending Family Christmas Eve in 2005. In 2004 my paternal grandfather passed away, and the family was getting together almost every month thereafter to share memories of him. But everyone was being so harsh towards each other on Christmas Eve 2004. They claimed they intended to be teasing. I later dubbed it “harsh teasing”, a phrase that apparently made no sense to my mother. There were at least two times when my paternal grandmother shouted over the top of everyone else, “SHUT UP!” When we all did, she asked at normal volume, “Are you forgetting the quote we are trying to remember your father for: ‘Just love each other’”? Dad and all his siblings exclaimed in unison, “NO, MOM!” I was so stressed out by the way everyone was treating me and each other. I was running to the bathroom like every five or ten minutes. I didn’t even stay until midnight. I had a car at the time. It only used one key for all the locks and the ignition switch but I had both keys on me so that I could start my car to warm it up, lock it and be able to get back in it to drive myself back around the corner to the apartment I lived in at the time. My parents deny any of this ever happened and reconfirm their belief in my misdiagnosis that co-occurred with my diagnosis of Asperger’s in 1996. I was suffering from clozapine withdrawal throughout December of 2004 and most of 2005, but I have thoroughly researched every diagnosis I’ve ever had since 1996 and only agree with four: PDD-NOS, Asperger’s, Anxiety Disorder NOS, & Major Depressive Disorder. All the other ones are QUACKERY!
For 2006-2008, I did resume going to my parents’ and maternal grandmother’s homes on Christmas Day. We did not have the large smorgasbord that my paternal grandparents had prior to my paternal grandfather’s passing but we did have two different kinds of potatoes my father has always made. One kind is just diced with butter, salt & black pepper, wrapped in aluminum foil in the shape of the Hershey’s Kisses candy and baked. The other kind are the canned, sliced white potatoes but spiced with black pepper, onions, & banana peppers. We also had Honeybaked® Ham.
In 2009 I was convinced I had auditory & visual processing deficits that made me require the tactile form of American Sign Language for all communication all the time, causing me to miss Christmas with my family despite my temporary return to Cincinnati, Ohio that was still happening at that time. This was later discovered to be an exaggeration of the auditory processing disorder I do in fact have, and a claim of a visual processing disorder I was found not to have.
Christmas 2010 I spent with my former roommate and her family. I had made peace with her boyfriend and had a nice conversation with him that day until we all sat down to watch Sex & the City 2.
Christmas 2011 I spent with my former friend Elizabeth who I met through my former roommate. Elizabeth made an interesting mix of chorizo, ham, bacon, & pork. She was a very creative cook. She passed away on 3/25/2016 and I didn’t find out until 6/8/2016. Knowing she suffered a simultaneous stroke and heart attack on 5/14/2015, I am assuming that another stroke, heart attack, or both were her cause of death unless her family ever tells me otherwise.
Christmas 2012 through ’15 I was All Alone on Christmas listening to Darlene Love’s song “All Alone on Christmas” and Wham!’s long version of “Last Christmas”. Those are rather sad Christmas songs, but I was hyper-focused on the lack of romantic love in my life in 2012-14. Christmas 2015 I had romantic love but my partner was not with me that day. Some of those years I went to walk on Sunset Beach because it wasn’t too cold but it was not all that warm either.
Christmas 2016 happens to fall on a Sunday. Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church in Costa Mesa, California will have its normal Sunday worship service on Christmas Day. So I plan to attend. Despite the current lack of romantic love in my life, I do not plan to listen to Wham!’s long version of “Last Christmas”, but when I arrive home I do plan to listen to Darlene Love’s song “All Alone on Christmas” because the version I can stream on Google Play Music is longer than the version heard in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It has a second verse and a longer saxophone interlude. Then I plan to listen to some happier Christmas music, including Colbie Caillat’s 2012 release “Happy Christmas” that I only recently heard for the first time on my credit union’s jukebox. In the background of the left channel I can hear some very country-music-like electric guitar work when listening through headphones. But the lyrics and the other instrumentation the song has are what make me like it.