26 December 2011

Post-Christmas 2011

Sometime near 7:30 Christmas Eve night, I decided that since the cats were already enjoying their shared Christmas gift (a cat bed) and since that made me their Santa Claus, that I was entitled to some milk and cookies. My cousins had baked them. They turned out to be pretty good, but they were a bit too hard for my liking. I paused for a moment and realized that this was my family: these four kitty cats. I haven't had the pleasure of being Santa Claus for a child of my own, nor am I likely to ever have that experience. It still hurts after all these years, and I don't have any desire to discuss it further now but it was heavily on my mind this year. I felt empty in ways that even my furry dependents can't fill. I felt emptier still without my wife here with me.
Ramona, practicing being adorable.
Before I became too maudlin, though, my new friend texted me and cheered me up. She's a very sweet young woman with a tender heart and I think very highly of her. Depressed Travis would downplay the value of such a friend--just as he downplayed the friends he already had, who were always willing to be there for him--but Healthy Travis counts this friendship as something worth celebrating. My friends have all rallied around me since learning of the severity of my depression, and I am truly thankful to--and for--each of them. Meeting this new friend as I did as I began my recovery, though, gives her a unique insight into me that the others don't have, and so she's been able to reassure me in different ways. I like to think I've returned the favor, though just to be sure, I keep trying to find ways of doing so. She's a very special young woman and I think very highly of her. I want her to have as good a friend as she's been to me.

Christmas was fairly uneventful with my family. We ate a late lunch together. My uncle brought his current girlfriend and her three kids. The younger daughter and I colored in the How the Grinch Stole Christmas! coloring book I've had for several years (the publication date is 1997 and I may have had it since then). This year, I decided that--though I feel empty, as described earlier--the most appropriate page for me to color was the final page in the story, where The Grinch sits down to dinner with the Whos "...HE HIMSELF...! The Grinch carved the roast beast!"

It may be overstating my Christmas to suggest that I basked in celebration with the Whos, but I certainly feel more participatory and celebratory this Christmas than I have for more than a year. Last year, I think I may have been so spiteful that I would have tried to "steal" Christmas if mass theft was at all practical for someone with my health. This year, though, I felt a sense of belonging at the table, sitting with my cousin and the little girl with whom I colored. We weren't at the "grown-ups" table, but that's okay. We were at the cool table.

Christmas night, I met with some friends to see Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. I'm not even bothering with a full review post of this one; all that really matters to me is that I enjoyed myself. The movie was terrific fun (it's easily my second-favorite in the series, just behind M:I-2) with lots of great stunts and Simon Pegg made me laugh throughout. I also enjoyed Michael Giacchino's score quite a bit. I'm glad we opted to not see it in IMAX because I'm terrified of heights, and several sequences made me squeamish on a regular sized screen!
You had me at, "No Plan."
What struck me about the movie was that the IMF team is officially disavowed...but keep working anyway, to save the world. It's what they do, after all. The chips were certainly down, but they pulled together to persevere. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and Benji Dunn (Pegg) were together in the last movie, Mission: Impossible III, but agents Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner) are newcomers. The theme of people who have no one else but one another banding together--including friends old and new--resonated particularly strongly with me.

So too did a subplot about what became of Ethan's marriage to Julia (Michelle Monaghan) in Mission: Impossible III (which, incidentally, opened less than four months after my own wedding). I tried not to think too much about that, but of course it gnawed at me throughout. I was only able to completely suspend my fixation on that during some of the stunt sequences set in high places. (Before anyone suggests it...No! I am absolutely not going to confront my fear of heights, and certainly not as a coping mechanism!)

That's pretty much my Christmas 2011. Anxieties and emptiness; friendship and hope. Was it the best Christmas ever? No. But it was better than others and on the whole, I'm glad I was here for it.


  1. Tammy Oerther12/26/2011 10:11 AM

    I'm glad you were here for it, too!

  2. :-) Thanks. And I should be there for Fat Christmas, too!

  3. I also am glad you were here for it.  Even though we both have things we will never be rid of.  I saw this and thought of you and that this is something Travis would say, but wanted to share it with you.

    Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, an hour, a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside. If you quit, however, it lasts forever.

    I would add that some pains do come back but they subside for a while at least.  Just don't quit!!  I want to thank you for not quitting.

  4. I don't agree with that quote at all, Larry. In fact, that was the whole point of another of my recent posts: surrendering is the way to stop hurting. It's continuing to hurt that requires the kind of fortitude that most people think suicidal people lack.

    That aside, thanks. I'm glad I'm still here, too.