Pills & This Is Dedicated to My Mom

idolatrysticker black fridayI do not shop on Black Friday.  I get depressed after Thanksgiving and stay that way till after Christmas.  It’s partly the holidays, but it’s more the dark and cold.

This is the season when, if you have pills, take them.  If you don’t have them, get them.

You can buy St. John’s Wort and other alternative antidepressants at the health food store. Or you can get prescription drugs.  As far as I can tell, anybody can get prescription antidepressants.  One tenth of adults in the U.S. take antidepressants, according to the CDC.

The holiday depression is partly because of my mother’s recent death.

Mom and me.

Mom and me.

Last year I bought her a tall hideous stuffed snowman at Walgreen’s, the kind of thing she very much liked.  My sibling moved it into a corner out of sight.  “He said it might catch on fire from the radiator,” my mother said.  We both laughed very hard.

Poor Mom.

Poor me.

The truth is I didn’t see enough of her.  Every time I went to the nursing home I came home and bathed, washed my hair, and washed all my clothes because it stank.  Doris Lessing writes of the smell of incontinence and old age in Diary of a Good Neighbor.  She writes,

 I was full of revulsion.  The sour, dirty smell was in my clothes and in my hair.  I bathed and washed my hair and did myself up…

I knew exactly what she was talking about.

So I was a good enough daughter, but not good enough if you know what I mean.

In many ways, my mother was the last person who loved me. I don’t mean  “likes,” but actually loves.   Mothers may dislike us as young women, but they approve of us after a certain age.  We wearily look each other over and know who is who, what is what.

Unlike me, she made very good Christmases.  “Gifts are fun.”  One year she gave me a beautiful patent leather billfold. “Where did you get that?” everyone asks.   And before her house was dismantled, I found two boxes with the same billfold, bought for and rejected by her grandchildren. It was one of her many sorrows, that she couldn’t give them anything they liked.

For years she sent me warm clothes–some I couldn’t possibly wear, like the white sweater with the faux fur collar–but the meaning was M-o-m  l-o-o-o-v-v-v-es  K-a-t-h-y!  So you’ll still see me in the fleece jacket with the reindeer design.  No, I wouldn’t have bought it for myself!

Stay married, she always advised during the holiday season. (She got divorced the week before Christmas, poor woman.)  You don’t want to break up over Christmas.  No, indeed.  But it can be a slippery slope:  your mate may turn into a serpent, a Minotaur, a griffin, or far worse. He won’t be giving you a patent leather billfold or a white sweater with a faux fur collar, now will he?  (And now let me put several emoticons here so you won’t take me too seriously:  🙂 🙂 🙂 )

Just listen to a LOT of rock music over the holidays because it makes everything easier.  Although I can’t say “Because the Night,” written by Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen, is appropriate for the season, it should distract everyone and put him or her in a more affectionate mood.

Here is a video version with Bruce Springsteen and Michael Stipe.  Totally different styles, but it’s great to see them together.   Intense  Springsteen and his band do what I call “the Trojan horse” movements onstage.  (It always looks to me as if rock bands are forming a horse; don’t ask me why.)  Stipe has a different elegance.  I love Bruce’s sweat and Stipes’ dancing!

5 thoughts on “Pills & This Is Dedicated to My Mom

  1. Aahhhh – one of my favourite songs ever. It’s hard to stay up and focused when the weather gets bleak and it seems to be dark all the time. My OH gets very seasonally glum, particularly at the start of another January. Roll on spring, I say…..

  2. One problem I have in my marriage for many years was when I was a child I tried to be happy Christmas day; maybe when I was very young (say under 7) I was. But I’ve an idea by the time I was 11 I knew it was forced — I saw that my parents wished I would stop; yet I kept up the effort. I discovered Jim my husband disliked it. As a young child (2-4) he had lived in a condemed house: as in the US, the UK local gov’t produced arguments like you must get out, and no we have no where to help you to go to and no money for you, but you must get out. This came to a height one Xmas where there were no toys. There was no money for any. As a child seeing the hypocrisy of this: that everywhere it was asserted how wonderful this all is, and many children got presents, but the poor got nothing and no help and no recognition. he learned to dislike it. For years I contended to try to pretend for two daughters and way overbought for gifts. Spent ridiculously to see delighted faces the next morning. Then one year I saw the older one had ruined the morning for the younger, angry at her that she had gotten a present the older one wanted. After that I cut back but I was so sad, became so distraught that my husband changed. For two years he took us out of the US to a nice holiday (once in Paris) to wipe away memories. When we returned, we made a traditon or custom: Xmas day go to movie and have Chinese food, Boxing Day go to museum. Be pleasant and cheerful. And we did keep this up the last years.

    But it is an ordeal this demand that we be happy, that we believe all are happy, that we do what others do — have friends and lots of people. Well, what if you don’t?

    I feel pills would not help me and say your mother was a good spirit for you for this time when we are under these kinds of social pressures.

  3. Karen, it’s definitely a seasonal thing for many. It’s very dark, but I also feel the Force of Christmas. May the force be with you? Maybe I could go live in a Star Wars movie for a while.

    Ellen, yes, I feel the pressure of Christmas. It’s as though I am feeling something from outside trying to move in. Turn on the TV for even a minute and it’s Buy, buy, buy…the newspapers are filled with coupons…and though that’s more or less in a day’s work it intensifies. Paris at Christmas: how wonderful.

    We need a counter- holiday! A counter-Christmas during which we give no gifts and approve only of one Christmas movie, Christmas in Connecticut. Then we listen to Eric Owens and other American Voices stars on the CD player, right? And then maybe we watch a French film or two. And then Xmas is over before we know it.

    But it doesn’t work like that!

  4. Kat–
    There is no avoiding the sense of shame that comes from being repelled by the more sordid aspects of a parent’s last months, and sometimes years. How can someone I’ve honestly care about for decades generate such a response? There must be something wrong with me. But there isn’t.
    As for the season that calls for pills, I can’t understand why you omit two of the most important over-the-counter palliatives. One is Dewar’s, the other Jack Daniels.

  5. Barry, thank you for your kind words: and why didn’t I think of Dewar’s or Jack Daniel’s for Thanksgiving? I must put these is on my Xmas shopping list. Only 23 days till Christmas…Or is that SHOPPING days till Christmas?

    And I must find something besides Christmas in Connecticut that I want to watch!

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