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Response to trumad (Original post)

Thu Dec 26, 2013, 01:01 PM

184. I watched a DVD of Joss Whedon's version of Shakespeare's

Much Ado about Nothing with a friend on Christmas Eve. Then he left, after about an hour of post-film chat, to spend the rest of the evening with his mother, her new husband, and his three daughters, all of whom my young friend (a 23-year-old former student of mine) likes very much, though he cannot communicate with them about his passion for literature, history, neuroscience, sociology, and ideas in general, because their interests just don't match his.

On Christmas I slept in, read a couple of novels and a bunch of stuff on the net, and played with my 3 cats, who don't get enough attention toward the end of the semester when my workload explodes. I also graded a few finals and essays, since I have a deadline for getting course grades posted for my 4 sections of English 101.

To find time for my cats, my pleasure reading, and my sleeping in, I had to politely decline several sweet invitations from friends who freak out at the thought that anyone should be alone on Christmas. The same thing happened on Thanksgiving.

I usually give in when the pleas become insistent enough. One particularly dear friend, a 37-year-old lawyer, also a former student, has managed to persuade me most years by begging me to get his mother off his back. His family essentially consider me family. He is by far the dearest of all my dear friends--so much so that I consider his 22-month-old son my grandson, even though there is no blood relation, and his wife (whom I also consider a dear friend) my DIL. His parents fully accept my claim to a role as William's extra grandma.

His mother really does badger him about getting me to have Christmas and other major holidays with them. My adult kids live far away. My son, who is in the foreign service, is posted in Turkey. My daughter lives in Texas. I live in Kansas. My friend's family is extremely close-knit, so they cannot imagine not always spending holidays together--as well as having dinner together every Sunday night. I am very close to my own kids, but they both have amazing but demanding careers, so we get together in person when we can, regardless of whether it is a day our society marks for getting together--i.e., a holiday or a birthday.

I am not religious, so religious holidays don't matter to me. I am not sentimental about such socially defined "special" days, either, so to me visiting my friend this weekend is just as good as seeing him on Christmas Day itself.

Other people are sentimental about such holidays, though, so they are deeply troubled to think of someone being alone on such days. I realize that many who are alone would rather not be alone on Christmas. I feel for them and I hope those of you who are aware of such isolates will reach out to include them in your gatherings and celebrations; and your kind wishes are of course generous gestures when that isn't possible.

But not everyone suffers from loneliness when alone on holidays. Some of us enjoy the downtime, the day off from a demanding life. I feel bad for people who worry about my being alone on holidays. Although I am rather introverted, both of my kids are extraverts, so they are bothered at the thought that I might be alone on a holiday. They know I receive several invitations and they always beg me to accept one. Usually I do, just to calm them and to ease the distress of the friends who invite me. But sometimes, like this year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I just need to be alone with my cats and my books.

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