*with apologies to anyone named Janet
My oldest sister would have loved what’s going on in the world today. Janet, yes that was her name, loved rules. She had rules for everything, from how to vacuum a floor – you had to unplug the vacuum from the living room plug and plug it in in the kitchen, even though the cord was plenty long enough to reach. You couldn’t put ice cream in your grocery cart until you had everything else on the list – never mind that the grocery stores are normally kept at meat locker temperature and the chances of melting were slim and none, or that she kept a cooler bag in the car because you never know – it might melt during the 10 minute ride home.
She also hated most holidays. Easter was okay because you went to church and most likely heard about how sinful you were. (I could be wrong about that, it’s been a few years since I went to an Easter service, this witch tends to break into giggles in churches so I try to attend weddings only, where people don’t look at me like I’m going to Hell tomorrow, if not sooner. Well. Giggles during a funeral are considered unacceptable in polite society.)
She thought Thanksgiving was ridiculous. It had nothing to do with any guilt about something our ancestors may or may not have done 200 years ago that has nothing to do with any of us and I can’t understand why I should refuse a good meal over, or why it should keep me from being thankful for the good things in my life now, but I digress. That kind of self flagellation was not a thing in Janet’s life. She hated Thanksgiving because, in her words, “who eats dinner at 3:30? It’s a stupid time for a meal.”
Thanksgiving when I was growing up was a full day of eating. We were down with the snacks, the celery stalks filled with cream cheese and olives, the crackers and cheese, the olives – especially the big black olives that you could stick on your fingers and use as puppets. We started eating at noonish, and all those snacks never seemed to ruin appetites for the big meal that started at, yes, 3:30ish, and ended usually around 9, when everyone was pretty much in a coma. I kid you not, there would be someone at the table from the time the turkey landed until there was little left of anything but bones. (In the meantime, dishes were washed, coffee was brewed, dessert was brought out and devoured, turkey sandwiches happened, cookies and snacks were munched – it was a marathon)
The last time we had dinner at Janet’s, the food was whisked off the table when the first helpings were barely gone. No snacks reappeared. A second glass of wine was frowned upon. (And it wasn’t even expensive wine!) Finally, my mother asked when the pie would be forthcoming. Janet replied that her food needed to settle and it would be some time. 15 minutes later, my mother announced that HER food had settled nicely, and with that she got up and brought the pie to the table and started handing out helpings. Janet was not pleased.
She saved her most vehement dislike for Christmas. She was subtle about it and it took me a long time to realize that she actively hated the holiday. She had a limit on gifts – what she bought me cost no more than $10 and my parents got something that cost less than $25. She had 4 grandchildren, one of whom lived with her. That child got no more than $100 in gifts, and the one that lived far away had the shipping costs deducted from the total spent on her. The other two were the children of the daughter she had disowned so they got nothing.
One year she put the tree in a back bedroom so she could close the door when no one was around and forget about it.
Not content with merely disliking Christmas, she was on a mission to make sure that no one else enjoyed it either. Every year, she would almost convince us that she wasn’t going to be a grinch, and at the last minute, out would come the fangs and she would suck every bit of joy out of the day. It never failed.
She hated me my entire life. I spent half my life wondering why and then decided it didn’t matter, but I’ve never really convinced myself of that. When she died, I sobbed. Bear asked why I was crying over someone who had hated me all my life and I said, “I’m crying for what should have been and never was.”
Why was she like this? I have no idea. Maybe it was the brain tumor that eventually killed her that made her so very hateful. I’ll never know.
All of this leads me to current events. The Janets are in charge, it seems. You WILL NOT HAVE THANKSGIVING! YOU WILL NOT HAVE CHRISTMAS!
Yes, Janet, we will. I will have Christmas, as I have every year – it’s been a long time since I let anyone ruin Christmas for me and this year will be no different. I will have a tree, and I will have presents under the tree, and I will invite my friends to come in for hot chocolate, a cookie, a glass of wine – refills are allowed – or a cup of tea or coffee. There will be no masks, and there WILL be hugs.
The Janets who think they’re in charge are welcome to come into my home, but if they think they’re going to enforce arbitrary rules – we have pie when the mood strikes and not when some rule says it’s time. So sit down, grab a fork, and smile.
The Janets need to be told to sit down and shut up.