I spent the week before Christmas bracing for impact. My body, my skin, my lifestyle, my hair color, my laugh are laid out on holidays beside the turkey, the wine, the dessert and coffee. And every comment seems to cut so close; I spend the next months recovering, confidence rebounding when I’m alone again.
But this year – not so. The comments emerge and they die without setting off the powder keg of my insecurities. I’m in disbelief – something will happen, something will be said that I haven’t thought of yet.
Since we are not at home, nothing is familiar. Wandering the tropical landscape, I think we’ve forgotten the holiday.
I ask my father about his favorite Christmas song, and he says “the Mariah Carey one.” Which interests me like a piece of trivia. And other innocuous questions follow. My family and I, like curious strangers.
But something must happen, I think. The sense of foreboding prevents me from relaxing into this limbo of polite family relations.
But maybe this is the new normal. Maybe we’ll be polite, forever skating across each other’s surfaces, with our ties deepening through years rather than moments. I think I would prefer the weight of history to the energy of conflict. A family that is even as a table. I could lay there, comfortably.