Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Ordinary Conversation is No Longer Ordinary
This time of year, as people start to get ready for the holidays and take some time off work, normal filler conversation leans toward "so, what are you doing for the holidays?" And I'm finding it hard to come up with an adequate response. Normally, I can make small talk, giving innocuous information about minor plans, the kind of answers that most people expect when they ask that question. But, things have changed. I don't have any real plans. This is the first year when both of my parents are gone, and they've been the connector for some of my siblings and I to get together. Without them, it's different. And trying to find a new "normal" has been strange. So, I make vague comments about "hanging out" and "taking it easy", which makes me sound evasive and secretive. I'm normally not one to give out too much personal information anyway, except to actual friends, but holiday plans very universally involve family, so I think the lack of mentioning that throws people off.
I also recognize inappropriate things to share with people that make it awkward for everyone. Christmas is Monday. I'll be working on Friday, and it's likely I'll be excused from work early. Nice, right, extra time to get a jump on Christmas, take care of last-minute shopping, get the house ready for guests, bake some nice goodies? Nope, none of those. I'm glad that I'll likely be dismissed early so that I'll be able to make it to a visitation without rushing or being late.
Yep, the hits keep on coming. I promise you that I'm not making this up. I know that at this point, it sure sounds like it. How could so many traumatic things happen to one person in a relatively short period of time? I've got to be lying, embellishing. Not even counting recent events with my place of employment that have also majorly added to my stress level, one of my best friends lost her mother a couple of weeks ago. The visitation is on Friday and the funeral is on Saturday. That's how I'm starting my Christmas weekend, to be comforting and available to her and her family. So, when I'm asked, "what are you doing for the holidays?", I don't respond with "going to a funeral" and instead make up an obviously vague answer.
I see Christmas all around me, and I feel almost nothing. Things are pretty, and that might register for a second, but joy is fleeting.
The awkwardness is there with people I haven't seen / spoken to in a while as well. People want to catch up, hey, what's been going on with you. And I'm tired of being the downer person, bad news heaped on bad news heaped on bad news. But when I deflect, I feel bad too, because I'm pretending that everything is ok when it's not. Made worse when I don't feel like I'm dealing with it well, and have trouble pushing past the lethargy and feeling of just wanting to stay under the covers.