Together But Apart: A Post Christmas Curiosity

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

Oh, my stomach! I think my gastric ocular ligament failed me. What’s a gastric ocular ligament, you ask? It’s the part of the body that connects your eyes to your stomach. It’s supposed to prevent you from eating everything you see but, clearly, it doesn’t always work. Usually, and I’m sure this is just a coincidence, it fails at Christmas, on birthdays, special occasions, and whenever I visit my favourite restaurant.

You know, back when we could frequent dine-in eating establishments. Ah, those were the days. When I was a kid! Walking uphill both ways. Back in my day… I’m running out of complaints! How could I run out?

Uh, maybe it’s because I’m feeling happy, content, and sufficiently stuffed? Nah, that can’t be it. There has to be another explanation.

I know! My stomach is so full that it expanded upwards. My other organs were forced to relocate up north, and they got turned all around. The shift in my physiological geography put pressure on my brain. Thinking has become extremely difficult which is why, I suppose, I just made up a ligament and recklessly shared my emotions.

No, wait, what am I thinking? I didn’t make up the ligament. My grandfather did, and it’s a polite way to say that I’ve stuffed a gut. I ate too much and, now I might vomit or slip into a prolonged state of unconsciousness. Can overeating cause hallucinations? Because, um, there’s a pink elephant in a tutu asking me to dance, and it’s really freaking me out!

How was your Christmas, holiday, or whatever you celebrated? I think I’m still in vacation mode, or I’ll just blame it on the food. My brain is fogged over, and I’m being super silly. I almost wrote superciliously, but that’s a different word, with a different meaning! Whoops.

What is wrong with me today? Oh, so many things except for the one thing you’re thinking. Not to put thoughts into your head, but you might be wondering if I’m drunk or otherwise intoxicated? The answer is no, no, I’m not. This is my brain after a holiday involving copious amounts of delectable delights. I even ate meat, which I rarely do, so I’m not accustomed to the tryptophan hangover.

It’s making my body very sleepy, and my mind race around like I squirrel that just ate two-dozen coffee beans. I think I have the mental zoomies. Just like my dog with too much pent-up energy. My brain is running around the room with its tail tucked between its legs. Look at it go! Run little buddy, run. Watch out for that wall!

Ouch, too late. That’s gonna leave a mark.

The crash will come, and I will sleep. It’s inevitable. No one can spin this fast for this long. I’m smelling the smoke, the tires are gonna burst, and I’m going to shut down for an extended period of time.

Butt first! Teehee, see what I did there? Butt. I need sleep!

I’ve said this before in other posts so, forgive my repetition. It’s for those of you who have just stumbled across this page and who, for reasons I can’t fathom, have kept reading. Thanks for that, by the way. I wouldn’t blame you if you clicked off halfway through the third paragraph, but here you are. Sticking with me, and all I can say is bless you, you kind and noble person.

On with the repetition! I don’t like the holidays, birthdays, or any day that’s been set aside for sentimentality and forced cheer. It makes me kind of sad, but this post isn’t about that. It’s not the time, place, or season. 

And I don’t wanna.

Ah, but these days stir up emotions that aren’t comfortable and then I’m told that I should be happy, cheerful, merry… Well, I’m too stubborn sometimes, and I don’t like being told what I should feel, want, or need. I dig my heels in and feel the opposite out of spite.

Real mature, I know.

Given my proclivity for Grinch-like sensibilities, you would think that this Christmas would be the worst one ever. Just look at the circumstances we find ourselves in! For the sake of my sanity, I won’t write the word or spend a lot of time outlining our current state of affairs. We all know what’s going on, and most of us are making the necessary sacrifices to save as many lives as we can.

We know this, we’re doing it, and I just want to say thank you to everyone who’s doing their part to lower the curve. I’m not going to say the C-name or the P-word because, again, I don’t wanna. Petulant? Yes. Necessary for my mental wellbeing? Absolutely.

But thank you! For everything you’ve sacrificed, and all you’ve done, thank you.

So, was this the worst Christmas ever? Do I find myself wallowing in a deeper state of despair than previous years? Am I holding on to my sanity with a fraying rope and I diminishing sense of hope?

This might surprise you, but my answer is no to all of the above. To be honest, I think I’m just as shocked as you are, and I’m scratching my head. What is this curious emotion I’m experiencing? Could it be happiness?

Curiouser and curiouser, hmm.

Perhaps this year has been so trying, and this is a chance to set all of that aside for a little while. It’s a chance to forget — No, not forget but focus our energies on something more positive and full of wonder. In no particular order, things like: Santa, presents, good food, family, and mistletoe. Placing cookies under the Christmas tree and setting aside some carrots for the reindeer. It’s all of those silly traditions that are unique to you and yours. 

It’s a sense of normalcy in a time when everything feels so extraordinarily bizarre. And, even for someone like me, it’s been a welcomed relief. It’s also an excuse to put my life on hold and reach out to people I love.

I’m very fortunate to have a close-knit family, and we enjoy spending time together. Sure, we argue, disagree, squabble from time to time. But when one of us falls, we’re all there to pick each other up. When one of us flies to the stars, we’re there to cheer each other on. If there’s one thing I never, ever, have to doubt? It’s the love of my family, and I know they will always be there for me.

In this regard, I’m so lucky that it borders on sickening.

Under normal circumstances, Christmas is our chance to appreciate each other and our good fortune. It’s a chance to pause our busy lives and get together. We eat too much, laugh too hard, and celebrate the fact that we’re all together.

This year, of course, things were very different. We were apart, and that sucks. I would use stronger language, but I barely made it onto the Nice List this year! Too many curse words have flown past my lips. I don’t wanna rock the boat because Santa Clause, that little devil, is a bit of a prude.

My family is divided into two separate bubbles, and we’re keeping it that way because a few of us are extremely vulnerable. A few others work with people exposed to the virus. They are angels, hero’s and I am in awe of them every damn day. Anyone who risks their life to help others? Legends! You are the best humanity has to offer.

I, on the other hand, am weak and vulnerable. That’s cool too, I suppose. I’ve had a kidney transplant, so I take medication to suppress my immune system. That medication stops my body from attacking and killing the kidney that was generously, selflessly, given. I’m grateful for the science and modern medicine that’s keeping me alive.

So, incredibly grateful! However…

The downside is obvious, especially now. If there’s a contagion out there then, I will almost certainly, get it because my immune system is a weak little b**h. (And I’m on the naughty list again.) When I get sick, I usually get it worse than most, and it can become life-threatening very quickly. I ended up in the ICU after getting a common cold! So, our current situation?

I’ve had the virus once, it was a miracle that I didn’t get a lot sicker, and I’m genuinely scared to get sick a second time. Will I be lucky again or, will my body shut down because it’s taken one too many hits? I don’t know, and no one in my family wants to risk it.

After all, we’ve come this far. The vaccines are here, and I’m hoping I’ll be cleared to receive it soon, but that’s a ways off. I’m in the outlier group. People on immunosuppressants haven’t been approved for the vaccine because science doesn’t know if it’s safe or effective. I’m hoping, praying, and wishing on a star that I can get it, and it works.

But until then, I’m isolating, and that’s just how it needs to be. It’s not fun, and I’ve had some low days because of it. I guess this brings me back to what I was saying about this being the worst Christmas ever. Or, more accurately, it should’ve been the worst on record, but I’m sitting here, the day after, with a full belly and a warm heart. I’m content, and I think I might even be happy.

It’s weird, right? Yeah, kinda weird. The Grinch has a heart? The curiosities just keep coming!

I have two other people in my bubble, and we’re all isolating as much as possible. My parents are taking all the precautions they can, and I’m doing the same. It means, in accordance with the health guidelines of my province, I can visit them. They are the only people I see, and their home is one of the few places I go. 

Yesterday, I went over to cook Christmas dinner with my dad. My mom decorated the table and made their home feel festive and warm. I snuggled with their dog, Thomas the corgi, and we opened presents. We ate a delicious meal and Zoomed with the other half of the family.

It was a little strange, not being in the same room and trying to hear each other over a small screen. It wasn’t the same, and I miss them very much. But! Exclamation mark, highlight, and shout it loud. We were together in a strange and different way. It wasn’t the way we normally do it or would’ve liked, but we were together. 

We ate together. Talked together. Laughed together. We were still together, and that will always be incredibly special. 

Maybe it’s even more special now because so many people have an empty chair at their dining tables. Quite a few of my friends have lost loved ones this year, and Christmas is so hard. That’s an understatement! It’s heartbreaking and the first holiday after that kind of loss is extremely difficult. I’ve been in that position, and all I can say is, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Sincerely, you have all the love I have to give.

That’s why I’m feeling so fortunate this year. Correction! I feel grateful, and it’s bordering on overwhelming. I have my family, and we’re all doing alright. We’re okay. The people that I love are still around and, thank you God for that merciful gift.

We’ve all sacrificed so that we can have moments like this, together. We’ll keep at it, and yes, it’s exhausting, but when it’s over, we’ll all be together in person, again. We’ve made it this far together because we’ve stayed apart, and I’m so grateful for that simple stroke of luck. 

I think that makes this one of the most curious, yet happiest, Christmas’s I’ve ever had.

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