How To Survive Christmas AlonebyPositiveThinker©
Are you alone and lonely for the holidays? Don't you wish that Ronco would invent something to make you feel not so alone and sell it on TV for, oh, I don't know, $19.99 and if you called right now, you'd get a second one for free? Yeah, well, go fish, life doesn't work that way.
A friend in need is a friend indeed doesn't always go along with you sow what you reap. Sometimes, life just happens and you suddenly find yourself in uncharted territory and alone, be it a move to a new city or country, even, a job change, a divorce, a death, a dispute, the witness protection program, hiding from bill collectors or relatives, even after being incarcerated before being released and returned to society or in my case, on a weekend pass from the mental institution. Whatever the reason you find yourself alone and lonely this Christmas, I have found, stumbled over, actually, the perfect solution to make you feel wanted and needed. I call it instant friends.
This is my second Christmas being alone. The first one was awful and the second one this year promised to be not much better, worse, even, that is, until I came up with a way to survive Christmas, while home alone.
My girlfriend and I haven't been getting along lately. We've been snapping at one another and I can't remember the last time we were intimate. It may have been that night that she was unconscious, after she took a sleeping pill. It was the best sex I ever had with her.
Anyway, we're on the verge of splitting. It's been a long time coming precipitated by this bad economy and me being out of work and unable to find a job for such a long time. She's worried about losing the house and I don't blame her, as I'm no longer able to share half the expenses, as I did when I was employed. Now, I feel as much a squatter as I do a moocher with her supporting me.
"Hey, Honey, on your way home from work, would you be a doll and stop off at the liquor store? I'm out of beer, again."
"Get a job, asshole."
"Sorry, I didn't hear you, Honey. The TV was too loud. I'm watching 24 hour sports."
In my case, I've been hoping for more unemployment compensation. The bill that sailed through the House got hung up in the Senate Finance Committee, controlled by, guess who, the Republicans. The Republican Senators played games with desperate people waiting for some meager monies to get them through the holidays and the rest of the year, while they added their pork barrel spending amendments and earmarks for friends to the bill. Those bastards don't want to give average Joes and Janes shit. Finally, the federally funded unemployment extension passed and was immediately signed into law by the President on the same day, November 5th, but 3 weeks later, I'm still waiting to hear if I'll be one of the ones approved to received more extended benefits. I have my fingers crossed.
The whole process of being unemployed makes me feel like a beggar and a loser. It's as much a humbling experience as it is a humiliating one. I'd rather have a job. I'd rather be working than receiving a handout, but there are no jobs. Yeah, yeah, I know, it's just money that I paid into the system coming back to me in the form of unemployment compensation, but this extension is different. It's in addition to what the state has already given me and I've already exhausted those benefits. This is an emergency federally funded bill that is added as a new tax to employers to pay for the funds. Still it stinks as much as this shitty economy does. They give the banks, insurance, and car companies billions of dollars, but don't give squat to guys and gals like us.
When it was apparent last year that I wouldn't have money enough to buy Christmas gifts for my girlfriend, her family, and my family even, I spent last Christmas alone and it looks like I'll be spending this Christmas alone, too. Even though I was invited to her daughter's house last year to celebrate Christmas, it wouldn't be much of a Christmas watching everyone opening gifts with nothing for me to give or to receive. My girlfriend doesn't understand that I'm depressed and would be even more depressed watching everyone opening gifts, but me. So, I stayed home alone with the dog and ate peanut butter and jelly, while watching It's A Wonderful Life, which was really extra depressing, since my life hasn't been so wonderful and just continues getting worse. Yeah, I know, welcome to my world.
The best part of that movie, of course, is the end when George and Mary Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, look around and see that they are surrounded by a wealth of friends. Now, if that's not fiction, then I don't know what is. Look around you, go ahead. How many people do you see, and you can't count those people with knives waiting for their chance to stab you in the back, who are your true friends?
"Et tu, Brute?"
The only one I'm surrounded by is my loyal dog and, as soon as I run out of money enough to buy him dog food and cookies, he'll be looking for a new best friend, too, the fickle mutt that he is.
"Buster, don't go. Come back. I'll find a job soon."
I'd invite my kids to visit but they live too far away to visit me during the holidays and being out of work, I don't have the money enough to spend to visit them. Besides, they're busy living their own lives to be worrying about Daddy, the one who cared for them, nurtured them, supported them, put them through college, bought them their first car, paid for their wedding, and helped them with a down payment for their house. What could they possibly owe me? You'd think a roundtrip airfare and a Christmas dinner wouldn't be too much to ask.
My girlfriend has already told me that she's going to have Christmas dinner with her daughter and husband again this year. Only, this year, I wasn't even extended an invitation. That leaves me alone with the dog, again. And if you can imagine how disappointed I am about not having a home cooked turkey dinner, imagine how disappointed Buster is about not having any leftovers.
"Down boy. I don't have any leftovers. I was just writing that I wouldn't have any leftovers. Don't go away mad, Buster. Just go away."
After the miserable time I had being alone last year during Christmas, I would have went with my girlfriend to her daughter's house this year, but I wasn't even invited to her daughter's house, probably because I didn't go last year. I can't help but feel as Doctor House does on House when he's running around the hospital begging invitations to holiday functions.
"Hello, Mike, how are you? It's Joe...from high school. I was in your gym class 30 years ago. Anyway, I was just wondering what your wife, I assume you're married, was serving for Christmas dinner. You're kidding me. I never pegged you for a gay man. Hello?"
Only, how could she do that to me? I can't help but feel doubly punished. How could my girlfriend's daughter not invite me? How could my girlfriend, the woman I love and who supposedly loves or loved me not say something to her daughter about her not inviting me? Don't they feel bad leaving me alone on, of all days, Christmas. I wouldn't treat my dog like that. Okay, I did leave the dog in a kennel one year when we went to Disney World, but that was different. He still has nightmares and separation issues and I can never drive by that kennel again without him thinking I'm going to leave him there.
"It's okay, Buster. Daddy's not going to leave you. That's a good boy. Give Daddy kisses. No, eww, not French kisses. Gross."
It's just wrong to treat me like that. It's not bad enough that I'm unemployed but, now that I'm feeling down, must those around me step on me and kick me, too?
This is my girlfriend's daughter, the same one who, when she was out of work and I was employed a few years ago, I helped her out with some money. When it was her birthday and Christmas, I showered her with gifts hoping to lift her spirits. Now, that the shoe is on the other foot, now that she's working and I'm not, I'm forgotten, not even acknowledged by her. They don't think enough of my feelings to extend me an invitation to Christmas dinner. It makes me not only realize how alone I am but also how much I can't wait to end this relationship with my girlfriend and her family and leave.
Only, where do I go? And where do I get the money to even move my stuff. I'm here for the winter, that's for sure. Maybe by spring, the economy will vomit me up a job. Maybe by spring, I can get my own place to live, an apartment or a condo with a pool and a clubhouse with young, single chicks. Only, all those places don't take pets.
"Don't look at me like that with those sad brown eyes, Buster. I'm not going to abandon you. We're stuck with one another. Okay?"
I never had my own place. I went from living with my parents to being married to being divorced and living with my girlfriend. I've never been on my own. Another new chapter in my life, before checking in the nursing home, this will be a new adventure for me, that's for sure.
Still, I've been dreading the holidays. It's no fun when you don't have any money and don't even have anyone to celebrate them with. Yeah, yeah, I know that Christmas is about religion and baby Jesus, but you just have to see the commercials on television, listen to them on the radio, peruse the supplements, and read ads in the newspapers to know that Christmas is all and only about money.
A trip to the mall this time of year is enough to make an unemployed person suicidal. The Christmas carol music hurts my ears much like distortion that I want to scream and run naked from the mall. If I have to listen to Jose Feliciano sing Feliz Navidad, Nat King Cole sing Chestnuts Roasting Over An Open Fire, or Burl Ives sing Holly Jolly Christmas one more time, I'm going to punch a mall Santa.
"That's him, officer. He punched me in the nose because Burl Ives was singing Holly Jolly Christmas."
"Holly, Jolly Christmas? I love that song," said the police officer to mall Santa. "Come on, buddy. You'll be spending Christmas in jail and that mangy mutt in the pound. Unless you're blind and disabled, there's no dogs allowed in the mall."
Sure, there are those people who say you can have a great Christmas without spending a lot of money, any money, even, and they write articles about how you can make your own gifts and those homemade and handmade gifts are more appreciated than what you buy in the store, but I'm not a handy kind of guy. My toolbox consists of a butter knife and a hammer. If I can't fix something with a butter knife, I smash it with a hammer and buy a new one. Only, now, without a job and without money, I can't buy anything. I don't even know how to make cookies, another one of their suggestions for a cheap, albeit thoughtful and homemade gift.
Only, this year, I plan on making the best of a bad situation. I've already ordered my Christmas dinner from the grocery store. If that wasn't bad and sad enough, I bought a pack of Ring Dings as my holiday dessert to eat after my Christmas meal. I just couldn't bring myself to fight the last minute crowds in the supermarket to buy something better than that, such as ice cream to put on the apple pie that comes with my holiday meal. So, I hit the convenience store, while playing my lucky winning lottery ticket, no doubt, at least, I pray to God that it is.
Someone please tell me, when did Ring Dings go up to $1.39? They used to be ten cents. They've gone up exponentially more than a gallon a gas. Only gold has exponentially increased more than Ring Dings. When I get a job, I need to start investing in Drakes and Hostess Cakes stocks and commodities buying short and selling long. Maybe one day, I'll be the Ring Ding King. Wow.
Last year I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when my girlfriend abandoned me for the festivities of her daughter's home. I know, pathetically sad, aren't I? Woe is me. This year, I plan on surviving being home alone for Christmas by celebrating the festive occasion with friends, albeit, friends who won't drink much, eat much, and talk too much. My kind of friends.
I'm tired of looking out at the neighbors and seeing their visiting company coming and going all day long. It makes me feel like a reclusive anti-social person not to be surrounded by well wishers during the holiday season. Where did my life go so wrong? What happened? I don't deserve this. I've always been a generous, loving, and compassionate man.
With no one to invite to visit me, I decided to decorate my dining room chairs with houseguests. That's right. I plan on entertaining an entire dining room of friends.
For all you losers, I mean, lonely people like me who are home alone for the holidays, with just a bit of creative ingenuity, you, too, can dress up your dining room chairs with shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and jackets. I already gave it the test, while walking the dog from across the street and even closer on my side of the sidewalk, it actually looks like there are people sitting around my dining room table. Then, when I took my dog in through the front door and he saw all these make believe men sitting around my dining room table, he started barking and growling.
"Good boy, Buster. Good boy. It's okay. They're just my make believe friends. They're just my clothes positioned and fashioned over the dining room chairs."
From a distance, even up close, actually, it appears that there are people in my house. And even when you walk in the dining room, you do a double take. Gees, why do I suddenly feel like a character out of a Charles Dickens novel? Yet, let's not worry about what other people think. We're not crazy, just lonely and lonely people do some crazy things.
Now, where I had no one visiting me before, I have a full complement of friends sitting around my dining room table. Viola! Gees, with eight friends, maybe I'll play Monopoly. I'll finally get to use all 8 tokens. No, I know, I'll play poker.
"Who wants to play Texas Hold 'em? Raise your hand. Just kidding. You don't have to raise your hands. I'll just deal the cards."
Maybe, I'll win this time, I should, I hope, I think I will. Actually, in essence, I'll be the only one playing. Maybe I'll cheat to make sure that I'll win, just in case. I don't want to take chances losing the little money that I have to a bunch of stiffs.
Now, I don't feel so alone and lonely. Now, I won't be celebrating Christmas all by my lonesome, but with friends, my closest friends, my best friends who are so near and dear to me that they are wearing my clothes and dressed to look like me. Finally, I have a houseful of people to talk to, laugh with, and watch football.
"I love that jacket you're wearing and you look great in that hat. I have one just like it. Hey, who wants another beer? No one? Okay, I'll get one for myself. Hey, you guys don't mind if I change the channel, do you? There's another football game on the other--"
"Joey! What the Hell are you doing? Are you insane?"
"Oh, hi Sheila. Nothing just watching some football, uhm, with the guys. Settle down guys. She's my girlfriend. Yeah, I know she's hot, but she's taken temporarily, that is, until she dumps me."
"Who are you talking to?"
"When I walked by the front windows from the driveway, I did a double take. I thought you had a houseful of people sitting around the dining room table."
See? Didn't I tell you?
"Instead you have clothes over chairs made up to look like people. Have you lost your mind? You need to find a job. You need to get out of this house more."
"I, uhm, just didn't want to eat Christmas dinner alone."
"You are alone, loser. There's no one here but your laundry."
"Shh, they'll hear you. You're embarrassing me in front of my friends."
"Who? What friends? You have no friends. They aren't real, Joey. They are just your clothes arranged over the backs and tops of chairs to look like people from the back."
"Okay, okay, so, there's nothing wrong with pretending. It passes the time. I don't feel so alone and so bored. Besides, I thought you left. Aren't you going to be late for your Christmas dinner?"
"I did leave but I forgot my cell phone and came back. I'm calling Doctor Murray Monday. You need help."
"Here's your phone," I said handing her the phone. "You need to go. You're interrupting my private party, the one that you aren't invited to and don't have an invitation to attend."
She gave me a long, soulful look, when I said she wasn't invited to my private party, which I hoped was guilt.
"Do you want to come with me," she asked.
Just the way she asked and looked at me, I knew she wanted me to say no. She was just asking because I made her feel bad. I was pretty pathetic dressing up the dining room chairs. It was a good idea at the time, I thought. It did give me something to do, picking out what each chair would wear.
"I can't," I said looking over at the guys sitting around the table and suddenly feeling wanted and needed, just as George and Mary Bailey felt when they looked out over all the friends that surrounded them that day.
"I'm in the middle of a poker game, Texas Hold 'em. I have pocket aces," I said in a whisper.
"They can't hear you, you moron. They're just clothes."
When you think about it, it is funny. I should take a photo of my clothes sitting around my dining room table with my camera. Hey, this is not even as bad as all those paintings they have of dogs sitting around the table playing poker or standing around a pool table playing pool.
Maybe I'm on to something here. Maybe I should paint this on canvas and call it clothes arranged on chairs to look like people. Boy, talk about empty suits. Yeah, that's a good idea, too. I could dress them up in my suits and sport coats with neckties and pretend they are sitting around a conference table, while holding a meeting.
Then again, maybe there's a deep psychological meaning to having, needing, and wanting empty clothes sitting around a dining room table. I wonder what it means? What do you think?
I do need a job. I do need to get out of this house more. Maybe I should mention this to Doctor Murray. Hey, maybe I could borrow some of his lab coats and nurses uniforms. I could have theme tables with firefighters, police officers, and military men and women. Hey, this could be a new career for me.
Home alone for the holidays? Don't despair. Allow us to come to your house and dress your dining room chairs. Wow. I like it. I wonder if this is how Andy Warhol started?