The Connolly Happy Merry Holiday Video Message!
Hey, guys, it's me, Peggy...surprise! No holiday letter this year; thought we'd move into the new decade with a festive video message. Happy holidays! Here I am, ugly sweater and all, saying the merriest of merries from all the rest of the gang. You can see some of them in the background. Over there, there's Chet, our eldest with his lovely bride of 14 years, Eloise, talking to next door neighbors Arthur and Sally Milburn about their crab-grass problem. Chet gravely advises heavy pesticide, no damn eco friendly here. Well, each to their own, right? And there's his seven-year-old niece Julie playing Heart and Soul over and over on the piano. Heck, seven out of eight notes correct is a huge improvement! You see my guy, Ted, leaning on the mantle, talking to two generations of Connolly, the twins and the grandparents. It makes me want to weep it is so sweet. And look, there's baby June chewing on an ornament. The others are in the kitchen getting the feast ready. I'm sure they'll be trailing in to say hello...I hope.
Oh, and you might have noticed the Kalashnikov that's been pointed at my head this whole time. From the looks of it by this novice, it appears to be on a hair trigger. Yes...well, we...the family and I...have some unexpected guests this year.
When I answered the door an hour ago, I assumed it was the Reynolds ready to thrill us with their annual neighborhood caroling. It wasn't. Three gentlemen and a very sweet young lady were at the door, um...requesting to visit. And here they are! To my right is Ivan. Welcome, Ivan, and how are you this merry day...yes...uh huh...well, I suppose all those foreign-sounding words mean he's fine, just fine. Here at my left is Marina. Love your hair; where do you get it done?...I see...sure...I'm guessing she's referring to her country's version of SuperCuts; that's where my book club ladies and I always go. Lovely, just lovely, Marina. Across from me; you can't see him, of course, is Mikhail, our wonderful cameraman. And standing there with Kalashnikov in hand is Randy; can't forget about you, you little dickens! Our little ex-pat, right Rand? Ow, the butt of that rifle is pretty solid, Randy.
The burrowing of the rifle's muzzle deeper into my temple reminds me that they wanted me to read a list of their demands. A manifesto, they call it, right, Marina? Okey-dokey, here we go. 'We picked average American capitalist family to' I'm sure he means anaverage American capitalisticfamily. So hard to get every word correct when translati...yes, yes, the manifesto, here we go. 'We take family hostage until demands met. Demands are...One', I just thought, I hope their will be enough holiday goose for everyone. With four extra mouths to feed, maybe...right, the demands...'One', I'll start there again, 'One, capitalist illegal regime pays us 12 billions of dollars or we erase family', my that is a lot of money, isn't it, Ivan. Oh my, Ivan's shaking his head and walking into the dining room. Those delicious aromas have to be getting to him by now...yes, continue...'Two, complete surrender of army, navy, and guilty commander chief to us and country.' Hey, anybody with nut allergies; we've got some almonds in the stuffing and that can be deadly. You know, once my mother ate some almonds and...yes, ouch, you're right. 'Four', they didn't get that right, did they? 'Four, all citizens must were underwear on outside so to show traitors to cause.' Well, that just seems silly. There goes Randy to the dining room. Perhaps for some eggnog before dinner? Watch out, Randy, it packs a punch!
Ohhhh, I wish you could see our youngest, Jimmy, and how he's grown. But I see he's in the other room with Ivan learning how to use a shiv...a shiv, that's what it's called, honey? Yes, Ted said, yes it is. Jimmy's such a precocious soul.
Look, Randy's trying a deviled egg, and with a thumbs up, too. Ivan, don't get mad at Randy for starting in before everything's ready. That's what the holidays are for. Just jump in when you're ready, Ivan.
Well, that's about it, folks. Looks like you might be seeing clips of us on CNN and FOX before you get this. Guess we're stars now! Get in line for those autographs, kids. Wait...what's that noise? Ivan and Randy again? They are getting loud, aren't they. Oh, Ivan, don't you think you're holding little Jimmy's neck a bit tight? You know, I don't think they're discussing the menu at all. Boys. Manners. I swear they're swearing in two languages now. My Lord...Randy, I don't think that's even physically possible! Oh, there goes Jimmy; good boy, hide under the table.
No...Please...Everyone, let's move into the living r...Randy, stop...Marina, now is not the time...Ivan...screaming...Ivan...Randy, put the gun.............AAAUUUGGGGGHHHH!!!!! Oh my goodness, blood...and Ivan...everywhere. Darn the luck, the goose is all red!. And is that Ivan's brain matter in the stuffing? It was supposed to be vegetarian!! Jimmy, please put the shiv away; we've got enough to handle right now. Now, Randy...settle down...don't.......
ALLRIGHT! ENOUGH OF THIS BULLS...excuse me, nonsense. This is a good Christian home, and we will behave in a good Christian manner; well, except for godless heathens like Uncle Terence. Anyway, Mikhail, camera on me, now! Make it a wide shot to include the whole table and chairs. Marina sit, start passing plates around. Randy, use those napkins to dab the goose. Yes, you can put your gun under your chair. Mikhail, put the camera on the counter pointed toward us and sit. Then start popping the bubbly while Chet carves the bird. Ted, gimme a kiss and here we go.
Hey, gang...well we made it. Another holiday filled with love...and...smiles...and..magic and...blood...of course, blood in the sense of family...and love and smiles and...oh, I feel like the Ouroboros worm right now. Well, time to chow down. Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season and an amazing 2024. And I hope all of us here will be able celebrate the New Year with you. Bye-bye!
McKenzie: Home for Christmas (Part I)
14th August, 2012
"Chrissy, are you sure you'll be alright?" Christine kept searching for a reconciliation in her brother's eyes, but he was reluctant to give in. His eyes wandered from her leather boots to the cracks in the pavement to the fallen dried leaves, but never towards his sister. Her hands remained mid-air, hesitant yet yearning to comfort her younger brother. But before she could, he walked away in a swift turn, never once looking back. She could still remember how he turned around a million times to bid his countless cute farewells on his way to school, but he had gone so far from that little boy.
Little did she know that a ruthless mercenary would target him later that day, and she would only find his rotten corpse a few weeks later.
26th December, 2013
"Mom, you can't stay here all day." David McKenzie stood in the doorway of his childhood home, apron around his shoulders, wet from all the dishes he had washed and put away. Dementia had taken its due course with her, often leaving her stranded in the middle of the hallway, or in the creepy vacancy of the store room. He gently placed his hands beside her shoulders, leading her inside from the windy porch before she caught another bad fever.
Life was peaceful. It was not something David was particularly used to. And if someone had told him a year before that his life would be serene and mundane and boring someday, he would have had a hard time believing them. He didn't even believe Edward when he said so. But there he was, cooking and cleaning and maintaining his childhood home beside his mother. The only red that splattered on his hands anymore was not that of blood, but of the stingy manure that he used in the backyard. It made him realize that it was perhaps always possible. That perhaps if he did what he finally did many years ago, life would have turned out a lot more different. Perhaps Edward would still have been--
David relaxed his stocky frame in his mother's old armchair, which he had replaced from the porch to his study. Edward and he used to fight over those chairs when they were younger. The father's armchair being the taller one, and the mother's being the shorter. Edward always won, except for a few times when they both resorted to violence, and David came out on top. But the joy was forever destined to be short-lived, as their mom would soon inquire how the fight broke out, ultimately leaving him in their mother's chair, and Edward smirking in their father's. David tilted his head, only to see the tall armchair lie by his side, vacant.
"David," His mother's faltering voice barely creeped out of her bedroom, making its way into his study. He had missed her calling his name. But then again, it was hard on her to expect to have remembered someone who she sparingly saw in the last couple of decades. Regrets. With an elongated stretch, carefully cracking all his bones and muscles in place, David slowly started on his trudge to his mother.
Gunshot. The glass cupboard which sheltered and curated their family memories lost her first line of defense, although it missed David by a feet. Amateur, David thought to himself as he ducked and rolled over to the ill-stacked space behind the couch. With no weapons to protect himself and caught in the haze of an unpreparedness for a shootout, David struggled to pull himself together. Mom. He had to be fast.
The gunshot must have been from the open windows of the dining, from the windows behind the couch. From the outside. Amateur. But what concerned David was something else. No one except David, Edward and Stern knew about his childhood home, and two of them were not alive. One killed the other, and he killed the one. His heart was no longer throbbing, having recognized the poor aim of the intruder, but his mind was at unease, not knowing how someone could have tracked him here in all these years. He had to know.
No more gunshots. Solo. Inexperienced. Probably someone who practiced in rifles. Reload time. David captured a terracotta vase from the unorganized mess of things he had stuffed behind the couch. Tossing it to the right end of the room, he quickly moved from behind the couch to the wall adjacent to the window through the right. Another gunshot. It missed the vase, instead ripping a hole in the nearby cushioned chair. David could then see the end of the rifle protruding inches away from where he was through the window, and in a swift move, he flipped the weapon over into the room, but the heavy force on the act was much superior to the grip of the holder, launching the rifle to the middle of the room, too far from both of them. Weak.
David pushed the windows close with all his might, shattering its glass casing everywhere in an attempt to surprise the unwelcome guest. Calculating how much time it would give him enough time to pounce upon the intruder, he slipped to the space right below the windows, and by balancing himself over the wooden borders, he toppled himself outside. Gaining balance as fast as he could, David stood before his guest, only to notice a twenty-something girl with a bleeding cut on her face from the shattered window, yet to recover from the ground. But in her eyes spewed a rage, a fire, that David knew would be hard to put down.
With a scream of anguish, the girl hoisted herself and sped at him, uncovering a knife from her fully-armed vest. David locked her arms in an instant against the window, giving her another deeper cut near the wrist. The knife fell off her palms with the sharp pain, but her clenched jaws were almost trembling with anger, which made David take a step back, "How do you know where I live?"
Struggling to set herself free from the windows, her nails giving a sharp cut to David's chin, she declined to answer his question. Realizing that his attempts would take him nowhere, David pulled the girl against the bars of the window in a whim, nearly knocking her out for the moment.
Around Christmas Time...
I’ve always been an avid fan of Christmas time when everyone seems happiest. People smile more, laugh more, they embrace others more. They even seem to be even more neighbourly as well than they would usually be throughout the year prior to Christmas time. Whatever quarrel there was between neighbours would come to an abrupt end. In everyone’s mind, seemed present and living the notion that ’Since it’s Christmas time, we shouldn’t have bad blood so let’s parang together, have fun celebrating Christmas and be good to each other. Let’s forget the bad things, at least for now. This is just one of the allures of Christmas time.
Everyone decorates their houses with colourful lights, other outdoor decorations too. As for the indoors, they paint the walls, clean the floors, including every other space that needs to be cleaned, letting not one dust bunny go free. Some people decorate their Christmas treesl that we get excited to decorate with pretty ornaments, and the gifts that we are glad to receive with bright smiles while we give some away too.
Something about Christmas just brings family together. Members of the family who have immigrated to other countries and those too, who are still within the country but have not been seen by their other family members in what feels like ages make a sudden visit in which they stay for some weeks or days to spend some quality time before they return to their separate residences. Families enjoy eating scrumptious food and a variety of snacks as well as drinking tasty beverages and hanging out with friends to laugh.
At Christmas time, we go to church and though that’s not different from any other Sunday in the year, during the service someone may more than likely sing a Christmas song accompanied by a few words said at testimony time that reflects the reason for the season, Jesus Christ and our happiness at his coming but most of all, the dying he did on the cross for ours sins. After the service too, we may treat everyone to a meal or some sandwiches, cakes and drink, either handmade or bought in preparation for the day.
It really is a lovely time if I do say so myself, and I’m not being biased just because I’m speaking of the country in which I live. It’s just that I appreciate it at Christmas time and the sprinkles of it that are seen throughout the year. I like that this is my country and while the culture is not perfect, it’s still beautiful and I just know that I’m proud to be a citizen of the country in which I live.
Merry Christmas, Grandma
Her wrinkled smile is all it takes to penetrate my sagging heart.
“Grandma, it’s been a while…,” my voice wobbles like a guitar string, as I firmly wrap my arms around her small, frail frame.
It’s been four years since I’ve seen her, and her body has become small enough to drown in mines. Or, rather, I’ve grown large enough to bundle around her like a blanket.
Her twinkling eyes hold years of homemade iced cookies, buttery mashed potatoes, tangy cranberry sauce, and chocolate advent calendars.
My grandma, though not related by blood, has brought my home back to me with the presence of her gracefully aging soul.
Too soon, she waves and turns her back to the gaping frame of my door. I cannot help but hide away and crumble into a salty sea of memories, as I softly whisper, “Merry Christmas, Grandma.”
I grin impishly up at my brothers, who wear the same half-smirk like a birth mark similar to the ones we all share on our neck. I have that smirk too of course, and bite at my cheek to satiate it. It feels too.. robotic how similar I've noticed we can be. Maybe it is from years of denying my own family, but it seems so painfully obvious just alike we are. I let myself smile at the brief thought, forcing my eyes to the two men on the vintage seats my mother insisted we buy.
"Matching sweaters?" Aaron asks with a chuckle, holding his up to his chest. I chose the green pleating to match his eyes. Tom beside him holds it at arms width like it's a drooling child.
"Do we have to... wear these?" He asks skeptically. I roll my eyes, knowing he finds an appreciation in the fabric from how he runs his thumbs over the lapels.
"Hell yeah we do. If you don't, you'll make grandma sad."
Tom perks up, ever the obedient first born. "She got us these?"
"No. But she'll think it's cute as peaches if we all wear them!" I grin mockingly back.
"Thanks, Rose." Aaron cuts in genially, shrugging it on happily over his plain black shirt.
I nod, glancing to my dog in a much smaller matching sweater to their own. My mom joins us on the turquoise couch, her coffee hot and reminding me of an airport from its quality. I don't need to suppress a gag at how familiar it's become now, noting how she's still in her pyjamas but will switch to her own ugly sweater- purple, mine blue- within the hour. Its so familiar watching how she tucks her feet beneath her, my dog finding purchase on her thighs.
Unfamiliar is having my brothers home for Christmas.
They are spread across the country, and we text sometimes but we very rarely see them in person. And it's special just having them, me and my mom all under one roof again. For once getting along among the rubble of a broken home. I imagine my father standing idle in an awful green robe, a camera in hand to capture the moment. But I do not linger.
We don't have traditions. We used to- the extended family would gather for dinner with my grandma in her basement suite and then head upstairs to join my aunt's family for gifts and games. But my grandma is too old to cook despite how much she tries, and my aunt's kids don't much care for us nowadays, off in their own worlds.
But I do notice the small things- how Tom seldom wears the pocket watch I got him last Christmas in every photo of him all spiffied up in his law suit.
How when touring Aaron's apartment for the first time, he had a painting from when I was eighteen proudly hung on the wall.
And I know they'll treasure these stupid sweaters, too. They'll sit on top of their folded clothes, as though it's an everyday item, never shoved to the back. They will open their closets and glimpse it and remember how much their little sister loves them. That is a tradition I shall uphold- their remembrance of my care and adoration.
Tom returns a moment later clad in his brown pattern in time for breakfast, and I don't say anything. I know my brothers like I know myself, and poking the bear with the proverbial ugly Christmas sweater gift would embarrass him. I lean familiarly into my dog that has scooted himself between my lower back and the chair backing, and watch as my brothers tuck into their food my mother has made: pancakes, veggie bacon and eggs- tradition, only when we are all together- and cheers my Mimosa to theirs, the filtering of classics filling our conversation about what's new in their exciting lives. I do not cut in about myself, rather quipping insults a sister is to do, and absorb my mothers happiness at the tableau to sustain me another year.
I do not have traditions in the sense of those family dinners flushed with laughter, and shredding of reflective paper we would shoot at each other's heads in a game borne of family anymore. We do not make caves out of snow mounds my brothers would cozy up with me inside and tell me stories, either. I do not come, nor do I go. I am stagnantly here- the sibling left behind as everyone grows and disperses. But I have familiarity. And that is family. That is Christmas.
The holiday season
Gemma looked down and noticed her left knee was jigging up and down, as she sat on the window seat of the train. For a moment, she stared at it, that unconscious nervous tick and then she forced her knee to be still. She was headed north, to spend Christmas with the family.
This time of the year, she was usually overseas, somewhere tropical, with a beach, beautiful sunsets and a population who were indifferent to the heavily commercialised holiday on the 25th of December. Somewhere else. Anywhere else. This year, her mother had called her and with a catch in her throat, asked her to attend.
For months she had pushed the thought to the back of her mind, but slowly, the date had drawn closer, until it had rudely arrived.
Reluctantly, with every cell in her body resisting, she had packed a small bag of clothes, booked a train ticket, locked up her apartment and headed to the station.
Now it was inevitable. It loomed in the near future - a dark nebulous cloud that threatened to upset Gemma's carefully calibrated life.
For her, Christmas had never been the happiest time of the year. For so many years, it had been the busiest time of the year on the farm, when restaurants put in large orders for produce and workers were scarce, so the family all helped out. A time of high stress and short tempers. Her mother had always tried to make an effort, to make the day special. She spent hours in the kitchen, sweat beaded on her brow as she roasted various meats and vegetables, made salads, Christmas puddings and stollens. Every year, the day had the potential to be one of joy and family.
And yet every year, without fail, it would turn into something else.
Staring out the window as the sun-scorched countryside raced by in a straw-coloured blur, Gemma felt her throat constrict as she reflected on the experiences of past Christmases. Of sitting down at a lunch table which was groaning under the weight of all the food.
Of her father always being late. The frustration on her mother's face that she tried desperately to mask from her children. Her father's raised voice. Always finding fault with something.
The inevitable argument.
The screaming voices.
Her father's faces twisted and ugly.
The taste of food turning to ash in her mouth.
The tear stained faces of her younger brothers.
The plates of food smashing on the floor as the table was tipped over.
The sour smell of garbage overpowering the appetising smell of food - after her father poured out the contents of the bin.
The shock and quiet of the aftermath.
The desire to be small and invisible, so as to escape his notice and wrath.
It had happened with such depressing predictability throughout her childhood that despite having managed to skip the past ten Christmases, Gemma felt the familiar fear creeping back in, as the train sped north and the safety afforded by distance melted away.
Perhaps it would be different this year. Her parents had long since separated and divorced. And this year, for the first time, her father was not invited.
Arriving at her mother's house later that evening, Gemma forced a smile, as she eyed the small Christmas tree in the corner and the string of Christmas cards hung up above the mantle place. Out of habit, she went to the fridge, pulling open the door with just a vague thought of eating something. It was full of cheeses, summer fruits, a trifle, custard and all the delicious foods she and her brothers liked. Her mother had gone all out. Maybe because she knew that no-one would shout at her later, about the cherries being too expensive or the fish being the wrong type.
Or maybe because she refused to let Christmas be defined by him.
Gemma grabbed a cherry and popped it in her mouth then closed the fridge. Her heart still felt heavy and her throat tight, but she turned to her mother and pulled her into a fierce hug.
'Thank you,' she whispered. 'Thank you for trying.'
Black Sheep in the Circle of Wolves
It’s the holiday season. A time for families to come together and share joy and memories. And give thanks for all the blessings they receive in life. My cousin has been hosting the Thanksgiving festivities at her house for a while now, so going there has become tradition. I couldn't tell you what it's like. I've never been invited. So while my family enjoys turkey, ham, stuffing, alcohol and togetherness, I sit here. Alone. In my bedroom. For I am the Black Sheep of the family.
It wasn't always this way. Growing up I was the baby among my cousins and without a doubt the favorite. I never had any brothers or sisters so I guess you could say I was spoiled. On Thanksgiving, (which was always at our house), my mom would make us all write our name on a small piece of paper and fold it up. Then she'd take the pieces, throw them into a hat and make us each pull out one. The name on it would be the person we were supposed to get a Christmas gift for. I guess she did this for everyone else because she always made sure to get a gift for everyone and everyone always got an extra one for me.
As I got older, my interests began to change. I discovered boys and sex. Then after a bad break-up, I discovered drugs- and booze. My parents did everything they could but nothing helped. Before I finished my freshman year in high school, I was a drug addict. And that Christmas, everyone would know it.
Its funny how no one ever acknowledges the person who is aware of the signs. I had been able to fool my parents. But once my family arrived, the cat was out of the bag. My cousin's husband was the first to say something. A "former" addict and forever alcoholic. I use the term "former" loosely because looking back I realize he was telling the truth about being drug free about as well as I was. Still seeking approval from my family he saw an opportunity to take the spotlight off himself and shine it on someone else. A fifteen year old girl. Swell.
I should probably mention that at this time I was not the only active drug user in my family. I was just the only one that hadn't mastered the art of hiding it. How disappointed everyone must've been. I bet they talked about it the whole time they were getting loaded in my bedroom. The shame they must have felt when they discovered I was not of the same high moral standards.
Years went by. People pretended to get sober, myself included. Eventually we stopped having Thanksgiving at our house and my cousin took it over. My parents say it got too expensive having both holidays at our house but I'm pretty sure they got tired of being judged. After all, it is their fault for not being able to see the signs.
Funny how no one ever mentions the abortion my parents paid for. Not mine of course. But the daughter of one of my perfect family members. Who at the time was fifteen. They never mention the lying, cheating or violence. And why would they? Maybe I just don't get it. I've never stepped on that moral high ground they all walk on. I've never been invited.
See my parents, raised me to be loving and tolerant. To use the gift my dad gave me. Which was the ability to read people. To use that as a tool needed only for protection. He showed me how to listen to my instincts. How to use caution when dealing with strangers. But never, NEVER, stick your nose up. He taught me that humility was the only way to ensure that when the tables turn, (and I promise you they will), I have a seat on the right side.
My mother. She is a beautiful person. The epitome of a strong woman. Her unconditional love and loyalty was the only thing that got me through some days. Of course I didn't realize it until later on in life. When the entire world had given up on me and everyone else in our family had their nose up, she was there. And when I cried to her because I wasn't invited to my cousin’s she said:
"That's ok. We didn't really want to go."
An Elf To An Other
He had come close to banishing Christmas for himself. As he had stopped eating ice cream, stopped drinking alcohol, it was not that far fetched that he would be cancelling Christmas as well. Unsurprisingly, as his parents’ behaviour had changed in accordance with rich people's habit of disregarding seasonal changes other than by choosing a vacation-spot, and as they had read an increasing amount of magazines not featuring children and shaming ageing, it seemed something that they might be about to do for him. It was funny that they were cancelling Christmas, yet he played the Grinch. That was about class, he had come to, to a certain degree, understand. Although he could not as openly show on himself being of a “lower” class as people who had family-relations more traditionally visible in the ranks of middle rather than upper class, his family had started treating him with the same sort of sternness as rich people to poor in a Dickens novel. Or as towards a barking dog in the street, independent on his being quiet or not. They did not shoot dogs, themselves, likely because it would be frowned upon or they would have difficulty getting the permits. For they were quite openly lazy in regards of resisting the urge of hiring people to do jobs for them, and could rarely be stopped from not cancelling something other than a trip to an Italian beach resort. Cancelling things seemed a dear past time to them, he snarled to himself. They had read the magazines, and so they knew what they mistook for their rights. And they were furious for not getting them. If there is something for rich people to get out of dutifully watching coverage of poor people’s misery, it is their ecxpected rights. As a middle aged bureaucrat at a sooth-sayer they watched the reporters tread on in awesome silence.
And so he hesitated going there for Christmas, which had not been cancelled. Yet, despite, despite, despite… he was going, hesitating as a pastime on his walk over. He had long since stopped - another pastime of his (stopping) - regarding his wants and needs in regards to larger issues as something to care that much about, since TV would blurt out the usual stuff no matter what he did, no matter what he said. Christmas seemed to him as a sort of hostage-situation between classes highlighted in memorabilia designed to lure kids into metallic arms. It was also a moment to draw a breath and sigh “humbug”, that he somewhat enjoyed.
He knocked on the door since they had taken away his keys. Even when he was staying there, they had refused to hand him a pair. The humiliation was so heavy he had to increase his efforts of reversed hospitality and gratitude – he laid his own cards as theirs on the table and wished himself a merry Christmas with an increasingly guilty sigh.
Don’t I love to rant? #majorlifeupdatevibes #prollynotgonnaworkouttho (:
It has come to my attention that, perhaps, I had been taking life a little too seriously. That, maybe, I care a little too much.
For as long as I can remember, I had been trying to build a system I could follow in my life. I believed I was in desperate need of a routine to pull my life together. And I probably wasn't wrong, to be honest. Life was a little complicated back then, and perhaps the lulling solace of a routine was precisely what I needed. Maybe it could have made me feel a little less helpless, and a lot more in control of my life. But I never built one. Or in other words, I built many, even brought out various cool adaptions and variations of such systems as life took me forward in time, but none of those could hold me accountable. They failed me. Or in a much more real sense of things, I failed to keep up with any of them. And here we are now! Perhaps, I had been taking life a little too seriously.
All these systems, they did not keep me accountable. Right? But did they help me? In some ways, they did, I wouldn't lie. But it did more harm than help. Attempting to keep up with those routines left me tired and unmotivated. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't just bring myself to do the things that I was supposed to do. And the to-do list of each day just remained the same, or sometimes grew larger in size. It was overwhelming, and the guilt was eating me alive, though I was barely getting anything done. Ironic.
Ever since I was young, there had been another thing I had forever struggled with. Doing something for myself. Ah, the guilt! It always eats me alive. The frolics every toddler put up to buy all the things they loved in the shop, I never had one of those tantrums. I never wanted anything. I wanted to ease the burden of my family. I was the good son. Did I even ever actually want something? I don't know. Maybe I did. But a long progression of that cycle eventually left me with this looming disinterest towards any given thing in this entire goddamn globe. What a tragedy. Most people struggle and end up demotivated and desolate in the rugged path to their dreams, while I had none to begin with. Or maybe I had, I just neglected it for so long that I can't find where I stored them anymore.
What was the point I was trying to make? I struggle to come to the point, I really do. And I am not editing this post. I am not going to filter myself, and present the version of me that I want to be seen out there. Don't get me wrong, but I'm doing this more for myself than for the ones who might eventually read this post. I want clarity. My brain had been in a haze for far too long, and it's about time I take it out for a rinse. And thankfully, I love to rant and write. So this is technically a rant to clear my brain. My life, actually. But I wouldn't mind some company. In fact, I would love some company! If there's someone out there going through similar stuff or actually just wanna help me out (because I'm such a beautiful person who deserves the entire world (: ), tag along! We can get through all of this together! After all, the company matters just as much as the journey, doesn't it? Maybe if we are all in this together, this could be a whole lot more memorable and fun!
Ah, yes, haze. Directionless. Dreamless. Disinterest. Unmotivated. Systems! Yes, systems! So yeah, I'm gonna just dump all the systems in the trash bin in the back alley. I know they had been with me for far too long for such a miserable farewell, but guess who left me miserable for a long time too? What you're witnessing right now might just be the rejuvenation of an ex people pleaser, who's about to enter his villain era. That is, I am about to put up some white little fences which anyone can jump across and still be overwhelmed with tremendous guilt when I couldn't help out the one person who would ditch me in a stranded planet without a second thought (: I'm just kidding, I'm not that naive. Oh! That's one of the fun parts, lemme explain.
I know exactly what I'm doing. The level of self-awareness I possess is almost otherworldly. It's the pinnacle of human evolution. And the desire to act on it is also such a force of nature! But do I? Probably not. I do tell myself that my apparent naivety is a guide to view the world with a pretense gullible-ness, which allows me the privilege of seeing right through people and their intentions and puts me in a position superior to them, all the while they consider me a weak, 'rose-tinted glasses' wearing, 'untouched by the cruel realities of the harsh world' optimist. I actually take some pride in that. And to some extent, I am not wrong. It does help me a lot. And when Waymond Wang came along in Everything Everywhere All At Once, representing the others like me, I was absolutely enthralled. But again, what was the point I was trying to make?
Yes, losing the systems. I was in an argument with a friend of mine the other day (let's call him 'The Productivity Monster' for privacy's sake), and all of a sudden, I coined, "Life's not a to-do list, stop treating it like one." At the moment, I thought I was liberating myself from the capitalist loop the world is stuck on. But am I? Nah, I don't think so. I believe it was more of a 'I want to retain this peace I somehow earned over the years, and I am not risking it over a conflict that I couldn't care less about'. But I do believe that life's not a to-do list. On the contrary, a freestyle isn't exactly the way to go about it too. It's not our fault though, hear me out.
Societal norms. There are certain societal norms out there. And it is not impossible to shut your eyes towards these norms, and live a life following your heart's fantasies. It's magical, it's transcending, it's what we all would have done with our lives in a different geopolitical landscape. But these norms not only influence the approach with which we want to approach our lives, but also influences the approach with which we have to. These norms were not exactly prepared by considering every possibility of human condition out there. So the ones who weren't born to the privilege of meeting the basic societal norms had to attain some level of privilege to even think about altering or revising such given norms. And sadly, most of our lives end while we are attempting to meet them. Again, what a tragedy. But what was the point I was trying to make?
So yes, I'm going to be a little silly from now on. I am going to loosen up a bit. Let myself act on intuitions and intrusive thoughts a lot more. Try and give up on my rather perfectionistic impulses. Try not to feel everything too deeply. But ah, wouldn't that be terminating the one thing that makes me special and lovable? Probably yes. But I'm fully confident that I'll never be able to ditch any of my uncalled-for compassion and empathy even if I try my best to do so. Who knows? Maybe I might even end up finding just the right balance. Hmm, this seems like such a beautiful step forward.
If you wanna tag along on this self-actualization journey alongside me, don't be shy! I'm shy myself, so we're gonna be just fine! Let's do it together! To a beautiful life, my friends! Let's do this <3
HE GOT A GIFT
"Fey, it is Christmas today."
I turned on the torn wrapper I had laid on the floor and glanced into the tired eyes of my brother. He sat on the bare floor with his legs crossed. His ten-year-old body looked like a beaten-down forty-year-old's. I am sure I looked worse than he did.
I looked around and noticed that it was still dark. Several other people were clustered around, some asleep, others sitting and staring into space. The putrid scent of alcohol and cigarettes clung to the air like a leech, refusing to come off.
“Why are you awake?” I asked, returning my gaze to my brother.
“Because it is Christmas.”
He remained silent, obviously lacking an answer to my obvious question. His inability to answer must have upset him, because the next thing I saw was tears in his eyes.
I climbed to a sitting position and looked at him worriedly.
“What is wrong?”
He refused to answer, instead giving the tears permission to fall. I stayed there, glued to the floor, staring at the only family member I have in the entire world.
“Okay, okay,” I said, trying to pacify him. “Merry Christmas.”
He turned to me and smiled. I smiled back in return.
“Today will be different," he said. “It is Christmas.”
We had spent the last ten Christmases together, and it had never been different, so I wondered what he thought was going to be different about the day. It wasn’t until later, when his body was laid down into the cold ground, that I realized just how different that Christmas was.
Finally, he was free. He got a gift.
“Merry Christmas,” I whispered, trying in vain to hold back the tears.