the Holiday bawl

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I bawled on Christmas Eve day. It was a hearty, completely-losing-it weepfest. It felt pretty good to cry as I fought to finish the handmade cherry pie. As my daughter didn’t take her afternoon nap. As a half-hour’s drive away my husband, 4-year old son, and in-laws awaited me, and the baby girl, and dessert. I’d worked till 11:00 the night before. Oh yes, woe!

I was wallowing in woes. Most of my own making.

Earlier in the day I’d had good friends visit–Jen and Karissa. We drank coffee and sat outside in the sunlight as I tried to rapidly decompress. I kept looking for my holiday spirit. I welcomed it, but hadn’t given myself any time. Jen, one of my oldest friends, juggled baby Story and cleaned up our kitchen. Karissa rolled out my rock-hard crumbly pie dough. She’s like that. You can hand Karissa a tortured lump of “pate brisee” or a crying newborn baby, or ask her to hang a picture in your house, and she’s got it. We talked about the hard knocks of 2011. I tried to tell them how much I appreciated seeing them.

I got messy after they left. I cried because year-old Story Jane wouldn’t sleep, and I needed her to. (Sleep is my parental Achilles heel.) I was crying because I felt alone. And because I was remembering past holidays–Christmases of my childhood–and got swept away in the hope and disappointment. (Santa. Right. Happiness forever. Right.)  I kept crying and looking at my daughter watching me cry from her high chair. I hated that I wasn’t together. And that despite Jen and Karissa’s help, the pie wasn’t together, much less baked.

So why didn’t I just go buy a goddamn pie? Or arrive without dessert?

Humbled by this question, I have to admit I needed a good breakdown. I bawled for more than two hours, and then I felt better. I was still snuffling, but calm as at last I drove, with the pie and the baby intact, to Rafael’s family’s house. I was to arrive with puffy eyes and a fresh cherry pie with a small heart cut in the center of the top crust. The cherry goo had sloshed in transit and the pie looked just like I felt: an achy bleeding heart.

No matter–I walked in and it was the holidays. Raf’s mom offered me a glass of wine and I sat down with Story and got a thousand hugs from a very happy Alejandro. I’d arrived. Not on time, not perfect, but present.

I’m learning that’s the most I should expect and strive for. To be present. I’m still squirreling my way around it, but it feels so good when I’m there.

And note to self: it’s probably best to avoid such drama in the future. Next year I’ll take a couple of days off before Christmas. And maybe just buy a damn dessert.

Hold me to it.

Love you,

Margot

About Post Author

Margot

I wrote my first novel "Richland" in cafés in San Francisco’s Mission District, after working during the day as a producer at design firms. I graduated with honors from U.C. Berkeley, with a degree in Political Science, and lived in San Francisco for more than 14 years. The siren song of the East Bay lured us after our son Alejandro was born. We're now adjusting to life in the weirdly idyllic neighborhood of Rockridge, Oakland.
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2 thoughts on “the Holiday bawl

  1. I love this! I need a good cry too, but I feel like I’ve been too busy to have a breakdown. I keep saying that life will slow down, but it never does, unless you make the effort to take the pressure off of yourself to do everything, be everything & everywhere at the same time! That being said, I didn’t make sugar or gingerbread cookies this year, (my childhood favorites), but I did make a couple of batches of magic cookie bars & homemade toffee. Both are delicious and super easy if you want the recipes! Hope to see you again this year. Happy 2012 & Take it easy! Tonia

  2. I would like to report that I bought two pies for Christmas in 2012. They tasted homemade because I was so happy about them. Hope you did what you needed to do too Tania!

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