Another Spare

My mother used to joke when people asked how many daughters she had and she would laughingly reply “A pair and a spare,”.  I didn’t realize how she really saw us until later on in life when the spare had to take care of her.  She  wanted, and invested in, the pair with full rights to demand care when she could no longer care for herself, or when she was just tired of taking care of herself (We’ll never know which).  Both my sisters, twins, knew how to cook, knew how to clean, had practice with their own children on how to change diapers and how to take care of another human being.  I can barely take care of myself even now and I’ve been practicing.  I prefered to write or craft rather than clean house, sue me.

I just finish listening to Spare by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.  I appreciated his experiences with depression and anxiety and felt a kinship with the rage that accompanied his depression which he called “the red mist”.  Though he was allowed to wallop his brother and friends to get it out of his system, a perk of not  having any proper parental supervision and being a boy, he described the pain of it very succinctly.  Though each journey through depression is unique to each individual it’s nice to know you aren’t alone in the void.

We are reading/listening to the book for the Aunt/Niece book club.  The chapters read like blog posts, chronologically from the death of his remarkable mother to the present.  I know the book was about his coming to terms with the unnecessary and tragic death of his mother, the lethal abuse of the tabloid press, the absolute narcisism of his father, his service, his stumbles in the public eye, the rank racism towards his wife and children and ending with his separation from the institutionalized dysfunction of his family.  That was the point of the autobiography; to take control of his own narrative and his own life. I guess, on a microscopic scale that’s what I’m doing here as well.

I pulled a different meaning from the whole of the book.  I saw it as his fight and flight from the void, almost completely on his own.  But more important, discovering the happiness to be had in the light.   He reached a point in his recovery when he realized  he had progressed beyond the constraints of the little bubble universe the family and the tabloids created for him.  I’m still occadionally bumping my head on the constraints my up-bringing (such as it was) put on me.  Writing here has helped me push my mental and emotional boundaries to realize I am the master of my own mind/life/soul.  Like Harry, I understand the need to move far away from the funk in the my dysfunctional family because I’m afraid I will go back to where I was.   That is not a crack at my family in any way. We are all on different paths now, nolonger slaved to the one our mother picked. I like the path I’m on but it’s new and it’s scary and it would be so easy to go backwards and be, instead of moving on my chosen path to becoming.

The book as a whole is an interesting, albeit asingle hyperfocused view of the monarchy. He is very respectful to the Queen yet didn’t exclude her from the spotlight of dysfunction either. He owned up to the things he had done wrong, the few things the news outlets got right and how he is working to move forward in his life. I appreciated his honesty. If you are an anglophile you should enjoy it.

An Act of Christmas

To say I hate the rank commercial Christmas of the gift giving, excess in all things and the jolly fat man (especially) would be an understatement.  There is nothing wrong if those things make your Christmas, it’s just not mine.  Christmas to me is about Christ.  His birth.  The hope He brought to the world and the present of salvation He gifted to the world.  I enjoy the images of the angel or star at the top of the tree, the promise of spring the tree brings and Christmas hymns which herald the season.  I have a small nativity I put up instead of a tree because of the wonderful family who gifted it to me and the love which radiates from the small icons. That is Christmas to me.  Don’t get me wrong, presents are nice but there isn’t anything I need which I can’t get for myself, and stress buying has seen me getting a lot of stuff this month.  (Of which I’m still horribly shocked I spent so much on me!). This festive spending seemed to blacken the already dark mood from the first twinkle of Christmas lights on the house. I wasn’t going to put my nativity up this year because my room is a “pig stye” as I told my friend. She said it was fine, Christ was born in a manger, He would feel right at home. I immediately went home and put it in a safe place where Sammy couldn’t ‘play’ with it.

Christmas morning was special. After the family Christmas Eve of excess, there were bagels and herbal tea for breakfast and a round of opening presents. I didn’t buy anything for anyone because I didn’t think to and because I wasn’t used to Christmas mornings. Haven’t had one in dogs years. My nephew and his wife gave me stones to enhance creativity for my writing and a perfume spray called “Spiritual Gangsta”. My sister gave me a blank journal and a candle. I had nothing to give.

By the time I was ready to leave to take my last gift to my great nephew I was close to tears. I was both enraged and touched. I wanted Christmas to be over so I could just get back to the water treading I’ve been doing for what feels like forever now. I gathered my things and drove the hour or so towards their house when I was starting to get tired so I pulled off to get something fizzy with caffeine and something to eat. I got a soda and 20 nuggets. I know, it’s not really food but you can eat and drive without losing site of the road. I wasn’t that hungry but for the price, 20 pieces are the way to go. As I was driving out there was a man bundled against the cold holding a sign that said, “Anything, please.” I don’t really recall hearing the voice of God telling me to give that man half of my nuggets, or even the gentle whisper of the Spirit urging me to do anything at all. I pulled over, rolled down my window and gave him half my order, wished him a Merry Christmas and drove on. From that moment forward the anger, the dark mood or whatever you call the specter of the Grinch was gone. My soul was lighter and I felt the hope and joy the season is supposed to bring. That was Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

May all the good tidings of the season be yours, and please dear God, bring on the new year!